Return to a familiar community

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Strong local ties have pulled Oamaru-born constable Rory McGeown back to the Waitaki district from the hard streets of Whanganui.
Const McGeown has been on duty in Oamaru for about a month.
He said policing in Whanganui was more incident response-based, but what he expected from Oamaru was more preventive work.
“Up there, you’re cleaning up after the fact. Stuff down here, you’re working with the community for longer-term solutions.”
Const McGeown started his working life at the freezing works at Pukeuri, where he spent about 11 years as a meat inspector before moving to Dannevirke for a new job with the Alliance Group.
He always thought of joining the police, but it took an encounter with a doctor to prompt a career change.
In 2011, one of his three children was very ill, and it got to the point that a doctor stayed in his home overnight to monitor his child.
“I was really impressed by that and thought I could do more. Working at the freezing works, I economically contributed to the community, but that’s it.”
He had toyed with the idea of following his father into the armed services, but the police looked more interesting.
His first placement was to Whanganui.
“Culturally, it was very different. I got to learn about Maori culture. I have some Maori heritage, but I don’t know much about it.”
His tribal affiliation was with Ngatikahu ki Whangaroa, Const McGeown said.
His short career already had standout incidents.
“The [Whanganui] floods last year. We did a lot of work. It was pretty scary. The river was very angry. Lots of trees came down and lots of houses were damaged.”
He said a key driver to return to Oamaru was family.
“I have my own young family that are growing up quite fast and all my extended family are down here.
“The police are quite family focused so they always talk about being a big family. If we don’t have strong families ourselves, how can we go out and help out people with their families?”
He was looking forward to working with the community and wanted get stuck into family violence issues.
“I could actually make a change there. A lot of the time, people are just involved in the problems of day-to-day. They don’t see the bigger picture and don’t know what to do.”
He also wanted to tackle the issue of methamphetamine. Already, the drug had taken a toll on people he had worked with.
“You might deal with a young person at the start of the year and in the middle of the year you can see a behavioural change in them, and it’s just really sad. It is difficult. I think the community does get it. They do understand how destructive methamphetamine is.”
He said work in Oamaru was already going well.
“It’s been fantastic. It’s a really pleasant town. I’ve really enjoyed it. Great people to work with.”