The oldest member of a team dedicated to keeping the centre of Hastings safe reckons it would be in danger of turning into "anarchy" without him and his colleagues.
Herman Godinet and his team were recognised for their work by Hawke's Bay Police at a special ceremony at the Hastings District Council chamber on Wednesday.
Godinet, who has been working for City Assist since their launch in 2013, said while the job can often be dangerous, they're simply there to make retailers, shoppers and the general public feel safe.
The 62-year-old is the oldest member of the team of nine described as the "eyes and ears" of Hastings CBD.
Hawke's Bay Area Commander Inspector Jeanette Park said the "hard-working and passionate" team are a valuable asset to the district.
"We consider them to be the kaitiaki of our central Hastings city area," she said.
"They know their neighbourhood, they know their people, and because of this they have a vested interest in looking out for their community.
Godinet said local businesses have gained confidence in the City Assist team over the years, a far cry from when they started when they were often referred to as "wannabe cops".
"We're aunties and uncles, brothers and sisters in the community," he said.
"Retailers tell us that it would be anarchy without us and if we weren't here, businesses wouldn't be how it is now.
"If you took us away from the CBD, then the criminal elements will come back."
Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the City Assist team are not only ambassadors for the city but also "brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers for the people of Heretaunga".
The Hastings City Assist team provide a presence in Hastings CBD from 8.30am to 6pm, seven days a week.
Godinet, who hopes their recognition from police may encourage others to consider the career choice, said the job isn't always all smiles.
"We've got into quite a few tricky situations over the years – I could probably write a book," he said.
"Part of the recognition was City Assist's role in two incidents, which involved two vulnerable people in the community who were being taken advantage of and we went above and beyond the call of duty."
Godinet added: "There isn't any specified qualifications – all we look for is people with life skills and experience dealing with people."
City Assist, who sport their well-recognised purple uniforms, has also operated in the heart of Flaxmere since 2016.
Godinet said while days can go past with no issues, they must always be on-call and ready.
"We're told that our key performance indicator is that crime is reducing in town," he said.
"After seven years, we are starting to deal with the next generation of youths. The new wave is coming from schools or homes that are challenging, so we must remain vigilant."