One Friday night in October, I joined the community night patrol as they set off on their four-hour surveillance of Tauranga South.
The secretary of the Tauranga South Community Patrol, Maureen Kathan, had invited me along with her team so I could see firsthand what was involved in being the ‘eyes and ears’ of the police.
Based in Greerton, this patrol has about 25 active patrollers but around 35 volunteers overall; some who support with fundraising activities and in other ways.
“We sometimes go out on Thursday nights,” says Maureen. “But always Friday and Saturday nights at differing times. The day patrols go out for three-to-four hours every day except Thursday, because we don’t have enough members.
“We can stay out longer if the police need us.
“The night patrollers do not get out of the vehicle unless we are asked to by police, or in a medical emergency to help someone - like three weeks ago my patrol partner and I were involved in taking care of a hit and run accident. We got out of our car, put cones out and made sure everyone was safe.”
We cruise slowly though the Greerton CBD, noting venues that are open late and whether anyone is roaming the streets.
The car windows are down and we are looking for any doors and windows open and listening for breaking glass and alarms going off.
We head to Gate Pa, then down through Merivale. Our circuit would also cover the surrounding streets of the Greerton CBD, Welcome Bay and the Lakes business area.
In total, we’ll drive about 70km.
Before heading out on patrol, the team has logged in with police, and team safety is paramount.
As we travel, we listen in on the police radio.
The code for a vehicle accident comes through, and we hear police racing to the scene of an incident in Welcome Bay. A man has fallen off the back of a ute. Maureen lifts the sombre mood.
“I was at the pools last week. There was a code brown. Brown things floating in the pool.”
She tells me that on most shifts she is on, she invariably hears the code called for attempted suicide or domestic violence.
I listen as more codes come in on the radio.
Some men who broke into a swimming pool for a late night swim are being chased down a road in their undies, while the man in Welcome Bay has a serious head injury and is on his way to hospital.
“Most of the time nothing happens, but on other nights there will be three or four incidents,” says Maureen.
Tauranga South Community Patrol is a valuable crime prevention community resource, is self-funded and relies on local business support. They also needing more members. To join the patrol, or support them, call: 0220 974 681 during business hours or go to their website http://tscp.org.nz.
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