Police reassure the public, tackle multiple challenges



Sgt Phillip Rowden with tourists in Napier for the art deco festival that has been cancelled (image supplied)

Praneeta Mahajan

Hamilton, February 20, 2023

Eastern District Police are continuing efforts in the cyclone-hit region, including conducting 2028 reassurance patrols to help keep people and property safe.

A total of 120 frontline staff have now come into Eastern District from other parts of the country, to support local staff in a range of frontline capacities.

This additional resource includes the Police Eagle helicopter which has been in the district since Friday. The Eagle helicopter is equipped with technology that not only assists the Civil Defence response, but will also help officers track and locate offenders, or vehicles of interest.

Eastern District Commander Superintendent Jeanette Park said, “We have extra officers from across the country who are working with colleagues from Civil Defence, the Defence Force, and other responding agencies, to help Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay.”

She said, “I am immensely proud of our officers and the partner agencies they are working alongside. A number of those on duty have also been affected by the cyclone. We understand people are worried, and Police have significantly increased staffing levels to provide reassurance. 120 additional officers have been brought into the district, including to areas that have been cut off.”

Targeting people in crisis is Abhorrent

Superintendent Park said, “People are hurting, many are still without power, and or are unable to go home. Part of our response is being on the streets and in vulnerable areas, deterring the people who want to take advantage of this disaster.”

She said, “If anyone takes advantage of other people’s misery during this crisis, our officers will investigate. This offending is low at the best of times but targeting people in a crisis is abhorrent and we are not tolerating it.”

“We urge people to keep reporting suspicious behaviour or crime. The sooner we hear about it, the faster we can respond.”

Communities will continue to have a very visible Police presence in the coming days as well.

Police addressing a group of concerned clive residents on Saturday (Image supplied)

Reassurance and prevention

As of 2 pm on 19 February, there were 6431 reports of uncontactable people registered and 3216 reports from people registering that they are okay.

In the coming days, the Police will deploy another approximately 25 staff to the District, including iwi and community liaison officers to support reassurance and prevention work.

In Hawke’s Bay, there have been 1345 reassurance jobs including road and foot patrols, road safety checks, and Police presence at essential facilities.

There have been 683 reassurance jobs conducted in Tairawhiti. Police are also continuing to hold offenders to account.

Since Tuesday Police have arrested 42 people for various offences in Hawke’s Bay and 17 in Tairawhiti. Frustratingly, rumours and false information is being spread across our communities, and only serve to make vulnerable people feel even more unsafe.

In a media statement issued late last night, it was emphasised that “Each false rumour that requires investigation is taking Police staff away from the important work they are doing. Police are confident there is sufficient staff in Eastern District to manage both the emergency response and routine policing, and we continue to monitor what is required.”

Important request

Police are urging people who have been affected by Cyclone Gabrielle to register that they are safe online. Communications in areas most affected by Cyclone Gabrielle are slowly coming back on.

Anyone who has not yet reported themselves as safe should do so as soon as possible via the “Registering I’m Alive” online form, here https://forms.police.govt.nz/im-alive

Anyone who has not yet been able to contact someone following the cyclone is also encouraged to make a Person Inquired For the report, here https://forms.police.govt.nz/person-inquired-for

People who have been in touch with someone previously reported uncontactable are now urged to update their report via the same link or by calling 105 so we can prioritise those needing the most urgent checks.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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