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ong service . . . Watch house officer Sue Pennycook looks back on her time with the Oamaru police. PHOTO: TYSON YOUNG

Oamaru police watch house officer Sue Pennycook has just marked an important milestone in her career. Tyson Young talks to her about 21 years with the police.

Q: Where do you hail from, Sue?
I come from Oamaru originally. I shifted away and spent some time in the North Island, before shifting to Invercargill for 10 years. I then came back to Oamaru, where I’ve been ever since.

Q: How did you come to work with the Oamaru police?
There was a job advertised, I applied for it, and was lucky enough to get the job. That was back in the days where police did driver licensing. I was the driver licensing clerk. That all changed and I managed to keep my job through two different restructures we’ve been through.

Q: What’s kept you here for all these years?
The love for the job. There’s so much variety – you get to meet all sorts of people and go to all sorts of places. There’s also lots of social and fun things we do as well as working together.

Q: How did you feel when you were presented with your service award recently?
I was proud to receive it because the award is given not just for long service but for good conduct as well. It’s nice to be recognised.

Q: What’s the hardest part about the job?
Seeing victims who are coming into the station for the first time would be the hardest part of the job. It’s hard for them. I try to make them feel comfortable until I get the right person to help them. It’s nice to be able to get people like that the help they need.

Q: Have the police changed a lot over the years since you first joined?
Yes and no – some things never change. I think we’re more victim-focused than we used to be. I think technology has had a huge impact on the way we deal with things, particularly for the guys on the job with their phones. They can do a lot of their work at the scene. That gets back to us a lot quicker, so we deal with things a lot more efficiently.

Q: When you’re not at the station, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m involved with Special Olympics locally, and for South Island snow sports, so I organise events for them. I also like to play a bit of golf. Believe it or not, I also like going to the gym.

Q: If you were the Prime Minister for one day, what would be the first thing you would do?
I would let people with intellectual disabilities have early access to their KiwiSaver. Intellectually handicapped people possibly don’t live as long as you and I, so the chances of them getting to 65 and having access to their KiwiSaver is a bit slimmer than us.