Levin Community Patrol, celebrating 25 years, is looking for new blood.
Training is provided both before starting and "on the job". New patrollers are supplied with an ID badge and uniform shirt. The hi-viz vests and coats are supplied and gloves and beanies are carried in the patrol vehicle.
The organisation started in 1994 following a large number of burglaries in the district. Members of the business community and Levin police talked of setting up a community patrol.
Night time patrols, acting as eyes and ears for police, were already operating in other areas of the country.
At the time, Senior Sergeant Evan Jennings of the Levin police fronted a public meeting to gauge interest and it gained momentum with publicity in the Horowhenua Chronicle.
Soon more than 80 people had joined. Following an initial orientation evening the first patrols started later that month, and membership was capped at 130.
Due to the new Levin police station being constructed at the time, a temporary base had been set up at the Kohitere Boys Training Centre in CD Farm Rd.
It was from here that the first patrols set out from under the direction of Ron Harper and Bill Smith.
Patrollers used their own vehicles and had the option of $10 for fuel if they wanted it. Basic gear was a portable police radio, a cellphone, a large plug-in spotlight, a torch, a folder with a map of Levin to note times and locations on and a lined patrol report sheet.
Donations from the business community contributed to funding the initial outlay for sundry gear and fuel costs.
From its inception, the patrol had been set up as an incorporated society and operated with a full committee structure that included a police liaison officer. Patrols were done only at night for about four hours duration, starting at around 9pm or 2100 hours.
In 2000, there was a meeting of 38 patrols from the lower North Island held in Taupo which highlighted the need for a national body.
In 2001, another meeting was held in Taupo with 63 patrols attending. This was the inaugural CPNZ Conference from which the logo was designed and the website launched.
In 2002 Community Patrols of New Zealand (CPNZ) was formed as a charitable trust and a memorandum of understanding was signed with the NZ Police.
This gave all community patrols and similar named groups a national body to be affiliated to and enable the NZ Police to communicate and liaise with.
By June 2002 there had been 315 members vetted and registered as members of LCP but only 110 remained.
Up until early 2015 nothing much had changed for Levin but pressure for all patrols to have marked vehicles compelled LCP to raise funding through grants and to purchase a new Suzuki Grand Vitara.
This was done with the help from the Endeavour Trust, Pub Charities and the Horowhenua Motor Company.
The vehicle was fitted with a light bar on the roof, a hard wired police radio and personalised registration plates – LCP1, and it has items for use at accidents and breakdowns.
It is also equipped with a thermal imager for use at night with a range of 1.2km and is good to have for surveillance of school grounds and parks.
Patrollers still take a cellphone, portable radio and the folder with a paper copy of the patrol sheet, but all reporting is now done on a formatted patrol report on a tablet that when the patrol is finished is sent to the police and three patrol members.
Tasks are sent from Levin police twice a week which included vehicles and places of interest and where burglaries or thefts from vehicles have occurred in the previous week.
The patrol works closely with and Neighbourhood Support, and also has a seat on the Horowhenua Emergency Management Committee.
Patrols nationwide are becoming more involved in civil emergencies and helping organisations such as Search & Rescue.
REQUIREMENTS TO BE A PATROLLER
- Be able to pass police vetting.
- Be reasonably fit and active.
- Have no major health issues.
- Good eyesight and hearing.
- Legible writing ability.
- Drivers licence an advantage with a good driving record (not all patrollers need to drive).
- Be available to do 2-4 patrols a month of about four hours duration, can be day or night or both.
- Be prepared to do training modules, preferably online, (a necessity before going out on first patrol).
- Good observation skills and memory are an advantage.