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May 2009
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High-visibility policing pays off

This year’s Hamilton 400 V8 Supercar event went off without a hitch last month, with just 61 arrests over the three days.

Senior Sergeant Graham Shields prepares to be interviewed by television about policing the V8 Supercar event.

Acting Inspector Freda Grace says the investment in highly visible policing paid off. Eighty-six extra officers were brought in from across the Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Counties Manukau, Waitematā and Cental Districts to help Hamilton staff.

Working under operational commander Inspector Paul Carpenter and alongside Senior Sergeant Graham Shields, Freda steered Operation 400 to a successful conclusion, building on the success of last year’s event.

“Reports received from the media, race participants and members of the public are that staff represented themselves and the Police in an exemplary manner,” Freda says.

“The key to success was a ‘festive but firm’ presence. Some offenders who thought there would be easy pickings outside the race circuit bit off more than they could chew as we didn’t reduce normal policing of the city.”

Three offenders who robbed a dairy on the other side of town while police were busy at the race track found that out when they tried to flee the scene.

Fans line the supercar circuit, under the watchful eye of police.

Photos: Andrew McAlley, Waikato District

One of the trio was tracked to a park where he assaulted a dog handler.

His resistance was short lived, however, when the Eagle helicopter in town for the event landed in the park to offload reinforcements, and his co-offenders were arrested after a short struggle with other staff in bushes at the far end of the park.

Two Waikato staff acted in pivotal roles at the actual race. Senior Constable Craig Bridgeman was in Race Control, while on the track Crash Analyst Senior Constable Graham Fitzpatrick crewed one of the race officials’ cars.

“Basically my role was similar to what we’d do out on the roads, representing police in any serious crash except dressed in official race garb as opposed to police uniform,” says Graham.

“That way should a tragedy have occurred fans would see the race being closed down by race officials not by police, and we’d then carry out any crash investigation accordingly.”

With the formal debrief stage still to take place Freda says there’s little to be done other than look for further improvement for next year’s event.

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