Kapiti’s new(ish) Police Chief, Senior Sgt Anita Dixon, says life in the District is much quieter than on the front line in Wellington.
And in an exclusive interview with KIN, she says the biggest problem facing her staff of nearly 40 is the erratic driving habits of some Kapiti motorists.
And she says this just could be related to the fact the area has probably the largest aged population in New Zealand.
But she stresses the police are working positively with the KCDC around elderly drivers to solve these problems and doesn’t want to be seen to be targeting them unfairly.
Shift commander in Wellington
Senior Sergeant Dixon also says that after six months on the Coast she is still adjusting to a completely different policing environment.For the past 16 years of her Police career, she has worked in the city environment of Wellington; for the past eight years working as a shift commander, often out on the streets.
Anita, who’s slimmer and less muscular than the traditional front-line Bobby, never-the-less obviously has all the skills needed for what can be a tough and challenging role.
She has seen the introduction of smartphones for all cops and and ipads for front-tine staff, who can now access all sorts of information at the tap of a few keys, saving hours of work.
But the slimming-down also means Kapiti residents who have minor problems won’t necessarily see a policeman or policewoman face to face — the encounter may be over the phone instead.
And already this has meant the clogging of the Kapiti Station on Saturdays ( on some Saturdays only four people would call in, which she points out is a poor use of resources. Help can still be summoned from a phone in the foyer,k or from a cellphone or land-line.
If the call is urgent, she says, a police car will be on the scene in minutes. But minor problems like lost property can wait until the Station HQ is fully operational again.
All this may take Kapiti’s elderly population some time to get used to, but the change is on the way.
The past two and a-half years, she says, have seen the biggest changes ever in policing. The first big change was to make crime prevention a priority. A lot of offending is never going to change, she says, but we can stop people becoming victims by taking simple steps.
The good news
The second change, now going on, is good news for the public, she says, because Police are now prioritizing helping the victims of crime, rather than just chasing the bad guys.
So if you’re a victim of crime, you can expect to get a very sympathetic hearing from local police, who will work with you to deal with the trauma and will help you to prevent a recurrence.
And the big thing, Senior Sgt Dixon says, is that there are now no major crime issues facing the Kapiti District.
And she recounts how, soon after she arrived six months ago, police arrested and incarcerated two of the top crime offenders’ in the area. And in such a small place, she says, a couple of people had caused a huge spike in crime figures. But drugs are everywhere; and we’re never going to get rid of them.
In the past, she says, it was cannabis sold from tinnie houses. But now the big problem is amphetamines (including ‘P’) and the Police. And, in spite of all the police work, the criminals will always be with us. She says criminals are not changing certainly in my experience.
‘I still think like a front-line cop. The criminal is a criminal!’