The country’s top cop, Peter Marshall, was out with the rank and file on the late shift on New Year’s Eve helping staff deal with a young woman cutting her wrists with a knife at the end of Princes Wharf.
A few days later one of Marshall’s deputies, Mike Bush, and a few other senior officers went to the mortuary while Disaster Victim Identification staff were assisting with the post-mortems of the Carterton balloon tragedy victims.
Marshall says that in the past executive staff would go out “sporadically, shall we say” with the frontline officers, but now they are out there regularly.
This is the new top echelon of the New Zealand police, and staff all the way down the hierarchy seem to be highly impressed.
It’s unheard of, an officer told us, the Commissioner of Police going out on the beat.
“The guys really respond to that. He’s a very inspiring man.”
And not once as a PR stunt. But regularly.
The new leadership and direction seems to be paying dividends with the troops. Marshall has two deputy commissioners – Bush and Viv Rickard. Of the more than 20 police officers we spoke to around the country, from constables to superintendents, every single one was glowing about the leaders. Some said it was the best administration they had served under in 30-year careers – one even called the three the “Holy Trinity.” Another said they were “good blokes, down to earth, no bullshit, no pretensions”.
Credit should also go to Judith Collins who effectively appointed the Commissioner, and approved the Deputies. She leaves the Police in much better state than what she inherited three years ago.
They also appreciate someone defending them in the media. Several commented on how quickly and firmly Marshall had moved to rebut a critical article by former MP and police inspector Ross Meurant in North & South magazine. Marshall regularly blogs on the police website and sings the praises of the force or points out positive public trust and confidence ratings or tells anecdotes.
It’s not perfect. They still seem to have no idea when it comes to electoral offences. But they are making a real difference.