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Small town cop shops thing of the past

By Seamus Boyer

[email protected]

A lot of people have been asking us about what is happening with Greytown Police Station lately, so it was good to give a definitive answer this week.

People had seen the signs coming down and thought the station was being closed.

But in fact, as others may have known, it closed along with the Martinborough station during restructuring in January 2014, when the sole charge positions were disestablished.

Wairarapa Area Commander Inspector Donna Howard said the region’s remaining police stations were staying open, despite closures at stations across the country.

“We have actually increased investment in the stations and the community in the past six months by appointing two new supervisors to the Featherston and Carterton area,” she said.

Wairarapa’s remaining stations are at Featherston, Carterton and Masterton.

And while no doubt closures are a reality of many areas in the country, and our region is doing better than others, it’s still a shame.

Not so long ago every small town had its small police station, along with its dedicated community constable.

People would pop in to report things, and chat with the officer about this and that, forming a real bond.

That has huge benefits in terms of building trust and confidence in the police – something that is not always the case in parts of our region.

Ms Howard says fewer stations does not mean less community interaction.

“I do not see this as having any impact on our ability to serve the community,” she said.

“Staff are out of the station, being visible out in the community and working hard to keep our community safe.”

That may be the case, but it’s just not the same.

Currently there is no police station in Wairarapa where you can report crime in person on the weekend.

Once the revamp is done in Masterton the station will be back to opening 7am to 9.30pm, seven days a week.

But that doesn’t seem ideal if you want to see an officer in person on a Saturday if you live at Lake Ferry.

You can either drive to Masterton or wait until Monday morning to visit the station at Featherston.

That seems far from ideal.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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