Everyone wants to live in a safer town. We all either remember, or have been told, about the times when we never locked our cars or houses at night. Times have changed significantly, and not always for the better.
Contrary to what people might think, reported crime in Otaki is trending downward. The police can’t be everywhere and we’ve all been in situations where we’ve said ‘Where is a Policeman when you need him?’ There are a number of factors that conspire and make it impossible for Police to be everywhere all the time, so that is where the Otaki Community Patrol has taken a stand to help keep the community safe. Written along the side of every police car is the Police Vision of ‘Safer Communities Together’, and the Otaki Community Patrol is doing just that.
The Otaki Community Patrol assists Police and the Community by being out in their own time, on traditionally busy nights for the police. They are the extra eyes and ears of the police. They receive training from the Police and report to us any activities that appear suspicious or out of place.
A number of months ago at a weekly meeting I have with a member of the Otaki Community Patrol I was told about a suspicious car full of youths seen at the Mobil Service Station in the early hours of a Saturday morning. The occupants of the car were also later involved in throwing rubbish bins around on the road near the library. Enquiries led me to discover that the owner and occupants form the car were all from Levin — and I don’t like people coming in to Otaki from out of town committing crime! I went and spoke to the elderly registered owner of the car, and subsequent enquiries revealed that the car was being regularly stolen by the owners 15 year old granddaughter while her grandmother was asleep. She would take her friends for a joy ride and then return the car without her nana knowing. None of the occupants of the car were licensed, and some of them had been drinking.
These situations easily lead to young people drink driving, car chases and the inevitable car crash – with the potential for loss of life. However, thanks to the vigilance of an Otaki Community Patroller those youth have now been dealt with by police and the respective whanau, and the car has never been taken again.
In another case a simple reported observation by the Otaki Community Patrol led to a vehicle being stopped by Police. The driver was twice the legal drink drive limit. She had a drunk pregnant passenger and an agitated male passenger. Who knows what would have happened if they were allowed to continue their journey to Levin — perhaps another road fatality of someone who belongs to our community.
Some people ‘Talk the Talk’, but the Otaki Community Patrol ‘Walk the Walk’. What will you do?