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May 2009
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Media put through their paces

Media representatives were recently given the opportunity to experience a condensed police training day at the Police College in Porirua.

Driving Manager, Sergeant Bim Hewes gives Hawkes Bay Today reporter Alister Thomson a few pointers on parallel parking.

Hosted by Chief Media Advisor Jon Neilson and National Coordinator Probationary Constable Training Alan Richards the day was designed to develop the media’s understanding of police training and provide an insight into the many issues that officers must consider before embarking on a particular course of action.

“The objective of the day is to provide media with a better understanding of today’s policing environment and the pressure officers face daily,” says Jon.

After a 7am breakfast, trainers Gareth Reynolds and Cameron Ainslie explained the Tactical Options Framework, which guides officers when deciding the correct level of response to a situation.


Following a quick warm-up in the gym, the media team was given lessons in self-defence, compliance techniques, use of the ASP baton and OC spray.

The crime house provided a backdrop for the media recruits to test their new-found knowledge to subdue an aggressive offender.

At the firing range, Firearms Instructor Fiona McPhail gave a short lecture on the use of lethal force and the many legal issues officers have to consider when faced with an armed and/or dangerous offender.

Firearms Instructor Fiona McPhail reflects on the lack of skill of some of the candidates.

She explained that the final decision to use lethal force is down to the officer alone and can have numerous consequences.

The media were then suited up in ballistic protective gear and shown in pairs how to load their weapon with ammunition (paintballs).

After a quick run to heighten their stress levels, they were told an offender described as 6ft tall and about 120 kg with access to firearms was refusing to leave a property.

Confronted by the offender, they had to apply the tactical options framework and decide whether to ‘shoot or don’t shoot’.

By the end of the session the field was bloody – or blue, pink and yellow – and there were quite a few casualties, mostly inflicted by the media teams on one another.

At driver training, skills behind the wheel were tested as was the structural integrity of several cones. Following a couple of circuits on the skid pan everyone went away a little wiser and with better driving skills.

Dealing with the media: Police Senior Media Advisor Grant Ogilvie practises his baton technique on Arrun Soma of One News.

Photos: Anna Woolnough

Detective Sergeant Mike McCarthy talked through a murder investigation and pointed out how the actions of media could help or potentially hinder police work. He explained how useful appeals for information can be and the need to keep crime scenes uncontaminated.

The final session of the day was held at the crime house. This time the media team was asked to investigate a report of burglary in the pitch darkness.

Team members had to decide whether to enter the house by an open window and whether the alleged offender’s reason for walking out the door carrying a TV was valid or warranted arrest for burglary.

This proved to be a real conundrum with nearly everyone wanting the power to arrest on suspicion of theft or burglary – a decision not supported by current New Zealand legislation.

The next morning the group visited the Central Communications Centre in Wellington to see how 111 calls are managed.

A weary but better informed media expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to gain insight into what policing was all about.


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