The community policing initiative in the small North Island town of Mangakino is to be applauded, Labour police
spokesperson George Hawkins said today.
"Labour has been for some time investigating the use of volunteers to back-up rural police. The tragic death of
Constable Murray Stretch has spurred our determination to move ahead on this issue.
"In remote rural communities and sole-charge stations, it is an unfortunate fact that on many occasions police officers
will not always have immediate back-up available. This places rural police at a high risk to their personal safety.
"The next Labour Government hopes to pilot in rural areas the concept of Rural Volunteer Auxiliaries - trained and
vetted civilian volunteers who will accompany lone police officers, especially on night patrols. RVAs will not have
police powers but will be able to act as an extra pair of eyes on patrol, conduct radio communications, and be empowered
to assist a sworn police officer in their duties.
"RVAs differ from existing schemes such as the '101' scheme, in that they are primarily an officer-safety rather than a
crime-fighting initiative. Engaging members of the local community in law enforcement in this manner will also build
stronger, positive links between the police and community.
"Volunteers won't replace police, but will make it safer for police," George Hawkins said.