There is a new cop on the beat in Oamaru – Dunedin-born Constable James McDouall. After more than six years with the Australian Police, the 36-year-old has moved back a short distance from where it all began. Reporter Daniel Birchfield catches up with him.
Q How long have you been in Oamaru and what are your impressions so far?
I’ve been in Oamaru for about three weeks. It’s good; I like the slower pace of Oamaru as opposed to Dunedin.
Q How did you find yourself here?
I started police college last year in January and graduated in May and I had been in Dunedin since May. Initially I recruited for Oamaru, but then it got changed to Dunedin. I asked for a transfer up here because I prefer this style of policing more. I have done a lot of country policing in the past and I like to be somewhere I can make more of an impact, not just be another uniform.
Q What attracted you to the police in the first place?
It runs in my family. I am a third generation police officer and the fifth member of my family to join. I was born into it, I suppose. My dad was a senior sergeant down in Dunedin for years – I think he did 40 years policing – and my grandad and two of my uncles were both police officers down in Dunedin as well.
Q You spent some time in the police force in Australia. What was that like compared with policing in New Zealand?
I did six and a-half years there and left Australia to come to the New Zealand police. I was in Queensland and did my first year in a town called Toowoomba and then did three years out in the wop-wops in a town called Winton, and then finished up in Ipswich. Australia is sort of shoot-first, ask questions later, whereas the New Zealand approach is a lot more friendly as opposed to more hands-on and confrontational. Drugs are a pretty big thing and more prevalent in Australia .. in my time here in New Zealand I have noticed there has been quite a big increase in their use as well. But, the traffic and family harm stuff is pretty much the same in both countries.
Q How would you describe the way you go about your work?
I am pretty laid back and like to treat people the way they treat me. If I pull someone over and they want to have a yarn, I’ll have a yarn. If they want to go the other way, we’ll go the other way too. You’re not out there to write as many tickets as you can or lock away as many people as you can, it’s more about trying to prevent things happening now. If you can pull someone up and say you’re probably heading down the wrong path, that’s enough of a wake-up call for some people.
Q Have you set yourself any career goals for the future?
I like the country side of it, so I would like to get to a smaller station down the track. But I would like to stay here for the foreseeable future anyway.
Q What do you like to get up to in your spare time?