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More rural police wanted after Kawhia attack

Monday 14 Jan 2013 6:20 p.m.

Labour wants the Government to give rural police more support by ensuring there's a minimum of two officers in each station.

The call follows Friday’s brutal attack on a lone officer in the Waikato town of Kawhia. Kawhia residents say they'll lobby the Government too.

Constable Perry Griffin just 10 days ago was in his element among the local youth in Kawhia. But even then he conceded he did face challenges.

“I think a lot of the males today don’t have a lot of positive influences,” he says. “I was raised with horses and they’re into their bikes and PlayStations and things – a false world.”

Now he's on leave, recovering after one of the town's youths was part of a savage group attack on him on Friday evening. Labour says it could have been prevented if he wasn't alone.

“If they need backup quick, it's going to take a wee while to get to them,” says Labour Police spokesperson Kris Faafoi, “and we saw that in this latest instance. So I’m making sure we have someone close at hand for safety reasons and another set of eyes and ears and experience, and with policing ability will certainly help their members. “

And that's a sentiment shared by the people Mr Griffin is employed to protect.

Mr Griffin is popular with locals in Kawhia, but they say he's not getting enough support. Residents are holding a meeting tomorrow night at the Community Centre and say they'll lobby the Government to give more resourcing to rural police.

“We need more support for rural police, even if that means dogs or something,” says Kawhia Commmunity Board chairman Hano Ormsby.

“There is no need for it, in the sense that the number of assaults or serious incidents involving country constables is no different from what members face in provincial areas or indeed metropolitan areas,” argues police commissioner Peter Marshall.

The community philosophy of looking after one another may have saved Mr Griffin's life on Friday night, but locals say it’s time he had a helping hand from one of his own.

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