Keeping Raglan safe a priority for Community Patrol

They are an unlikely crew of crime-busters, but the Raglan Community Patrol are on a mission to keep Whāingaroa safe. 

The patrollers have a lot in common; most are retired or semi-retired, they are all community-minded and they love the town they live in.

“What our members really want is to feel safe in the place they live, for their family to feel safe and for the people around them to feel safe,” long-time patroller Peter Hurst says.

Peter and his wife Narina have been with the patrol for over 13 years. They started back when the crew was called the Night Owls. 

Like nearly every volunteer organisation in New Zealand, the Raglan Community Patrol is mostly made up of seniors who have a bit of time on their hands.

And like many non-profit organisations, they would love to have younger members of the community join the team. 

As patroller Dayle Merson points out, the more members they have the more patrols they can do.

“It would be great if we could do two patrols a day.”

Having a presence is key to reducing crime in a small town like Raglan where the local police aren’t able to provide 24-hour coverage.

The Raglan Community Patrol car gives the impression of being a police vehicle, and while it’s not, they work closely alongside the local police. They are affiliated with the Community Patrols of New Zealand, a nationwide organisation promoted by the Police and the Government.

Having the vehicle out in the community as much as possible not only acts as a deterrent but they are also able to provide valuable information to the police.

The vehicle is relatively new, with only 3000km on the clock, and it’s kitted out with dashcams and a police radio. 

The dashcams were Dayle’s idea, he had seen them effectively used for a family member’s business.

“We aren’t allowed to look at what’s on the cards (dashcam memory cards) because it could be seen as contaminating the evidence but we hand them over to the police and they can use it as evidence.”

It’s a far cry from when the Night Owls first started in Raglan in the 1980s and the members set off on patrol in their own cars, mobile phones were a rarity and dashcams were yet to be invented. 

Terry Ryan is in charge of funding and sponsorship for the patrol, and says they receive funding from Trust Waikato, WEL Energy Trust and Community Organisation Grants Scheme for operational costs such as the patrol’s dedicated mobile phone and petrol.

“We are also very grateful for donations we receive from local businesses from time to time as well.”

They also receive support for vehicle maintenance from Direct Tech and signage for the new car by Raglan Signs.

As the ‘eyes and ears’ of the local police, the Raglan Community Patrol are keen to help keep the community safe and lessen the workload of the police.

There’s always a team of two in the car so having a driver’s licence is not a requirement as the observer plays just as important a role. Applicants are vetted by the police and complete a period of training (usually three months) with senior patrollers.

The most important prerequisite for being a patroller is having a heart for the community.

To be part of a crime-busting team dedicated to keeping Raglan crime-free contact Peter on 07 825 8473, or head to the Raglan Community Patrol AGM on Sunday 19 June, 3pm at the Raglan Community House basement meeting room.