Oamaru police are welcoming a new set of “eyes and ears”.
The Waitaki Community Patrol has a new vehicle with all the bells and whistles – warning lights, a spotlight, police radio, front and rear cameras and a defibrillator.
It was officially unveiled at a special function on Tuesday morning.
Waitaki Community Patrol secretary Brian Harrison said upgrading to the 2015 Ford Kuga – thanks to the generous support of local businesses and organisations – would help patrol members keep the Waitaki district even safer.
Mr Harrison thanked the sponsors who had provided funding for the vehicle, which will be used by the group’s 19 members.
The patrol’s members liaise with Oamaru police before undertaking patrols, Mr Harrison said.
“They advise us of any hot spots, or areas to be monitored.
“We pay particular attention to schools, and undertake additional patrols during school holidays to reduce the possibility of vandalism or unauthorised access.”
The patrol also provided assistance at many local events, he said.
“The vehicle is pretty flash. Even some of the police officers said they wouldn’t mind using it,” Sergeant Tony Woodbridge, of Oamaru, said.
Sgt Woodbridge has been working with the group since its inception in 2012.
“The Community Patrol fills a gap. We have limited resources and these are community members who know the community,” he said.
“The knowledge and worldly experience they bring, I don’t think you can put a price on it.”
The patrol runs regular checks at the weekend, and the group had a role in preventing and reporting more serious crimes.
“The patrol has been invaluable in finding things that are going on.
“In July 2015 there was an arson which was observed by members of the patrol – they called us up [and] it was those observations which led to the subsequent arrest and conviction.”
Sgt Woodbridge said the generosity of the Oamaru community continued to amaze him.
“It makes a huge difference and frees up police resources for other things.
“There is a real ‘can-do’ attitude which, in this community, keeps coming up.”