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Commissioner Howard Broad and Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope began their Police careers together as members of the Joe Saunders Cadet Wing at Trentham. As they both prepare to retire on 1 April, they reflect on their 36 years of service.
Delegation key to leader’s vision
Commissioner Howard Broad steps down satisfied he is leaving a Police service with the resilience and flexibility he envisaged for it.
“I’ve tried to delegate authority to district commanders, having been a district commander myself, and knowing there’s a balance to be struck between district and central control,” he says.
In Christchurch and at Pike River, district commanders stepped up to handle what were essentially national operations “in a way only a person based in that place could do”, but with coordination and support from national headquarters, he says.
“It means we can handle multiple issues at once. Running Pike River and the earthquake operations simultaneously – as well as maintaining normal policing around the country – was a large ask but there’s evidence this is a model of real resilience and flexibility.”
He says he is heartened by how senior officers have taken on the extra responsibility. “I’ve made fewer of the decisions, but I’ve been asked more for advice. Increasingly people want me to see what they’re doing because they’re proud of what they’re doing.”
Another point of pride is the way staff across the organisation have come together to support colleagues on the front line. Howard says the welfare system and support services proved their robustness in Christchurch, standing up to one of the most severe tests they could have faced.
He is encouraged by Police cooperation with other agencies, domestic and international. “I have steadfastly pushed Police toward collaboration with other agencies. It’s about being easy to deal with – we have moved truckloads toward that ideal.
“The way help in Christchurch was so readily offered from overseas reflects our standing as good partners. We are ready to help others – and when we needed help, it came back to us.”
Howard says he has sought to lift the degree to which Police think about policing, balancing “action” with understanding of the role. This involves putting greater emphasis on crime prevention, balanced with response and enforcement. “It’s better not to have an offender at all than to be able to clear up successfully after the offence.”
Police are making considerable progress on matters of ethics. Some commentators fail to appreciate how hard it is to make change in such an organisation, Howard says, and he would welcome a focus on “the many success stories rather than the few hiccups”.
Rob Pope, Deputy Commissioner throughout Howard’s tenure, praises his ability to apply new and fresh ideas. “His record of achievement stands very, very tall among the achievements of previous commissioners,” he says.
Police Minister Judith Collins says Howard is leaving Police “better trained, better equipped and better able to tackle crime than at any other time.”
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