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Mixed views on police presence

Senior Constable Dave Kirk. PHOTO/ FILE

Retirement of long-serving cop leaves vacancy in isolated town

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The settlement of Pongaroa is ruffled by coverage of the loss of long-serving cop Senior Constable Dave Kirk in January.

There’s been a lobby of MPs to get a full-time police officer to replace Kirk in the isolated community, but some don’t agree with the suggestion the lights have been turned off with respect to crime enforcement.

One resident spoken to by the Times-Age said the community had seen three to four visits by police officers in the past week, with Pongaroa police station manned from 9am to noon every Thursday.

Senior Sergeant Jymahl Glassey is cited as a point of contact for residents in a Facebook post on a community page.

The resident said Kirk was a much-appreciated resident and a few years ago the community fought to keep him based there.

He was also the fisheries officer.

But in later years he was assigned to duties in Dannevirke for some of the time and if a new police officer arrived to live in the community they would likely do a lot of work outside it as well.

“Some of the comments are a nonsense. I’ve seen a police presence and if there is an issue they are only at the end of the phone,” said the resident, who did not want to be named.

Kirk left the police to become a truck driver in January after 21 years on the force.

Manawatu Area Commander, Inspector Sarah Stewart, said he’d spent 18 of those in Pongaroa, where a few hundred people live.

The closest police station is in Dannevirke, 60 kilometres away, and the roads to the southern Hawke’s Bay centre are winding, meaning the journey takes 50 minutes.

Stewart said the area was being covered by officers from Tararua.

“We absolutely intend to continue to provide policing services for Pongaroa.”

To better respond to the community’s needs, police held a meeting with Pongaroa community representatives in April and asked what was important to them, Stewart said.

“We are currently working through their feedback and hope to advertise in the near future.”

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