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Issue No. 413 May 2017

Great options for trainers

New recruits get to know their tactical options trainers really well.

Senior Constable Greg Betham, right, and Team Leader Gareth Reynolds demonstrate for the benefit of recruits.

For 16 weeks of initial training they are gurus in Defensive Tactics – the baton, OC spray, handcuffs, Taser, empty hand and control and restraint techniques that may save lives one day. They take PT and drill sessions and manage parades.

Given the focus on frontline skills at the Royal New Zealand Police College (RNZPC), trainers must know their street craft, theory and legislation – and be able to keep 20-strong sections of recruits interested.

Before any boost in resources under the Safer Communities investment kicks in, the team comprises a Sergeant with five constabulary and three non-constabulary trainers.

Senior Constable Greg Betham joined the team in 2015. He spent four years in Protection Services, which included accompanying the Prime Minister and his wife to Prince William’s wedding, and four in the AOS.

“I’ve had some pretty good jobs and stayed in some nice places but this is one of the jobs I get most back from,” he says.

“You feel a bit of pride when you get an email from a recruit after they’ve gone out and dealt with some situation.”

He says ‘real-life’ training, such as scenario-based Revised Integrated Practice (RIP) sessions and ‘living classroom’ expeditions to downtown Wellington, mean instructors need current street experience.

Training from currently operational staff is particularly valuable, including from Tactical squad members. “If they’re on call and have to suddenly leave, it’s part of what it’s all about for recruits.”

Senior Constable Renée Perkins, a trainer since 2014 after 14 years with Protection Services, also favours RIP.

“Districts tell us recruits come out able to hit the ground running,” she says. “Recruits say they feel more comfortable because they had the opportunity to practice things.

If you want to learn something teach it, says Senior Constable Renée Perkins.
Photo: Gareth Davies, RNZPC

“It’s great to get feedback from former recruits. When we have a new lot we can say ‘This happened last week – that’s you in a few weeks, out doing these things’.”

Renée and Greg appreciate the job’s regular, family-friendly hours. For Renée, the option of working part-time is better for family life and allows her to pursue study outside of the organisation.

“The opportunities are fantastic. You’re exposed to so much more than in an isolated workgroup,” she says. “People say if you want to learn something really well, teach it. That’s true.

“I’m passionate about seeing people grow and develop and this is the perfect environment for that. As you help other people develop you do as well.”

Greg and Renée both aim to return to the front line. They say their jobs keep them on top of their game and the college environment is conducive to working toward promotion.

Instructors are encouraged to train during work hours, using the RNZPC’s gym, swimming pool and other facilities.

“The facilities are fantastic,” says Renée. She is involved in the RNZPC kapa haka group and has introduced elements of Te Reo Maori into her work. “It embeds my learning, helps them and fits with Our Business and Our Values.”

She says being a woman adds another dimension. “Given that many of my colleagues are bigger and stronger than me, I can demonstrate for smaller recruits that it’s not all about size and strength but technique and body position.

“It’s great demonstrating that and seeing them empowered.”

Would-be trainers need no particular qualifications but constabulary staff must be PITT, PCT and first aid certified. Members work toward instructor qualifications and the NZQA Level 4 Certificate in Adult Learning.


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