New Zealand police cars are a disgrace. They are too often dirty and scruffy. They send the message that the police don't care and lack pride.
It's not that they are filthy from a hard day of chasing crims. I have seen them heading out of the station looking like they have just finished an off-road rally.
I don't know why successive ministers and police commissioners show so little care. I don't know why individual officers have so little regard for themselves and their job.
I know I'd get to work early to wash and clean my car. I wouldn't spend my shift in a car in such a state.
My only interaction with the police is seeing their cars.
I don't see police out and about on the street and so I don't know the state of them or their uniform. I judge them by default by their cars. And it's not good.
A car tells us a lot about the driver. It's not whether they are rich or poor.
Some of the richest people I know drive modest cars. And some of the poorest drive flashy ones.
But the state of the car tells you whether a driver cares. There's nothing more magnificent than a well-maintained car, especially one getting on in years.
Dirty and beat-up cars tell me the driver can't be bothered and doesn't care. It doesn't take much to wash and clean a car.
The state of a firm's vehicle fleet tells us a lot about a business. Businesses know this. They take a great deal of care and pride in their vehicles.
We have nationwide freight-forwarding companies whose trucks and trailers sparkle and shine and that look as if they have just rolled out the showroom.
I love those vehicles and the businesses who own them. They present themselves as firms who care, who are proud and who can be trusted.
If they look after their trucks like that, I figure that they will look after us and our freight.
Those trucks and trailers do harder yards than police cars. They are bigger and harder to clean. They show up the police fleet for the disgrace that it is. It's not money; it's care. And pride.
It might be seen as a little thing, as nit-picking. But I don't think it is.
Those cars represent the police. They are their branding and their advertising.
They are everywhere. They are what we see of the police.
Something's amiss. It starts at the top with the minister and commissioner. But it's also from the bottom. There are individual officers driving those cars.
Next time they pull a big shiny rig over, they should forget about the driver's log book and the weight on the axles.
They should ask the driver how he or she does it. And why.
And the minister and commissioner should be asking themselves: "Why are the cars patrolling our towns and cities so scruffy and dirty? And what am I doing about it?"
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