Home' Christchurch Mail : March 14th 2013 Contents 4 CHRISTCHURCH MAIL, MARCH 14, 2013
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It's such a huge area -- one of the
biggest policing districts in the
country. It takes time to get to a
job, and when you get there you're
on your own.
-- Jeff Bland
Jeff Bland talks to Anna
Price about retiring
after 38 years in the
AVETERAN lawman says police
staffing levels demand closer
scrutiny as lone officers head into
more dangerous and unpredictable
scenarios in the fast-growth rural areas
west of Christchurch.
Retiring Sergeant Jeff Bland believes
Selwyn is a special case.
Because of the huge growth, we do
need to monitor the situation. We cannot
afford, with this huge growth, to let
police numbers slip,'' he said.
As more people moved into the
area, staff levels in Selwyn had
remained static, he said.
With [adequate] numbers, you are on
the front foot and and can keep a lid on
crime, rather than playing catch-up. It is
also safer for existing staff.''
The arrival of one Christchurch crime
family in the last year, for example, coin-
cided with 30 burglaries in two weeks.
He is also concerned for the safety of
lone officers on night call.
They have no immediate assistance in
remote areas. They can't call on help just
around the corner.
It's such a huge area -- one of the
biggest policing districts in the country.
It takes time to get to a job, and when
you get there, you're on your own and
you are so vulnerable.''
The district stretches from the
Rakaia to the Waimakariri rivers,
taking in Arthurs Pass, Templeton and
There are regular incidents here
where it would be a lot safer with two
people in a patrol car.''
A lone officer faced the prospect of at
least an hour's drive at night to the sta-
tion with an offender.
Anyone fired up on alcohol and drugs
is dangerous. You don't know who you're
going to be dealing with.
There are times I've been to incidents
thinking, this is not looking good'.
You have at your disposal pepper spray,
taser and firearms, but nobody wants to
However, all crime should be kept in
perspective, he said.
We have this fear of crime, but most
people are honest and decent, and
want to get on with their lives. Only a
small percentage want to carry out a
crime. A small section of society stuffs it
up for everybody.
At the end of the day, police are as
effective as their communities.''
District Commander Gary Knowles
inherited a tough portfolio, with massive
disruption after the earthquake and its
impact on police, Mr Bland said.
I don't envy him at all''.
He describes as bloody shocking'',
however, the blase public attitude
towards the road toll.
The grim scene task was one thing.
Breaking the news to shocked families
The images of the dead, the twisted
and the badly burned, scorched their
indelible imprint on the mind.
It's the same for all emergency crews.
It has a compounding effect. You try to
blank them out.
With children, it's the gut-wrenching
horror. It's the sheer shock of seeing chil-
dren and young people dead -- who
moments before had all their life in front
There have been times I've come
home after fatals and gone into my kids'
bedrooms and heard them breathing,
and said thank God'.''
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