From florist to frontline cop, Whanganui police constable Nadine Staples is one of the new recruits reflecting the diversity police are aiming for.
As police work towards the target of recruiting 1800 new cops nationwide by 2020, they say there is a common misconception about the type of person they want. The latest police recruitment video is aimed at dispelling some of the myths and showing that police want to recruit New Zealanders with a variety of backgrounds.
Staples was raised in Whanganui and will be familiar to many people through her previous work in floristry, hospitality and retail. She has been a volunteer with Women's Refuge Whanganui and involved in community events.
"I'd never thought about being a cop," Staples said.
"I was working as a florist and wanted to do creative type things. I was doing my OE and when I was flatting in Vancouver I was assaulted by a flatmate and that was, I guess, the lightbulb moment.
"Three very helpful police officers came to speak to me, including one female, and that was it. I thought 'that's what I want to do'."
Staples returned to New Zealand and continued working as a florist.
"I umm-ed and aah-ed with the idea [of applying for the police], building up my confidence and fitness to apply. I wanted a Plan B so I studied nursing for two years alongside the police application process. Then I got in."
"Getting in" was not a matter of just applying and being accepted, Staples warns.
Steps along the way included fitness testing, academic testing, three months of online study, background and reference checks and 40 hours of ridealongs on police duties.
"When I actually got to Police College, everyone had had challenges along the way to get there," Staples said.
"I'd say work on your weaknesses but don't forget your strengths and if you don't get in first pop, give it another go. It takes big time and energy. Do it alongside your normal day-to-day life."
Police College was "really cool", with good support from wing mates, sergeants and other staff and extra tutorials and support available if required.
"I learned heaps. It's very full on, in a good way. It's absolutely constant which mirrors the job.
"The family harm training was really good. Jude Simpson, who was a victim for years, now works for the police and is very inspirational and passionate. I'm a bit of a geek so I liked learning law in the classes."
After finishing at Police College, Staples spent a month with different police work groups in Whanganui and then went into frontline policing "and I mean straight in".
"I love my job every day. I love coming to work. There's been some less than ideal situations and some pretty harsh realities but I do enjoy it.
"I think the majority of time we are trying to give people a hand. The red and blue lights, chasing people down, arresting bad guys, is less time than people probably think."
In the past six months, Staples has been on jobs ranging from family harm to mental health issues, sudden deaths, car crashes, dishonesty and other offending.
The first two years as a new cop was like an apprenticeship, Staples said.
"I have my field training officer who trains me for the first two years and helps me through my probationary period and I have some modules to complete.
"We also have welfare support if we need it and I get support from other people in my section, my sergeant and the other staff are really supportive."
At this stage, Staples is enjoying being on the frontline but hopes in future she may move into detective work (CIB), family harm or working with children through Youth Aid or the Child Protection Team.
Staples is happy to talk to anyone who is considering applying to join the police and wants to know more about what is involved.
"Give it a good go. One hundred per cent focus on it and make it a priority but also keep your normal life running. The reality is that 10 per cent of applicants get through but if you don't get through the first time you can always try again. Be prepared to work really hard."