THIRTY-THREE years as a police officer ends today for Senior Sergeant Moera Brown, who says education can keep young people out of trouble.
Her last day on the beat will be followed tomorrow night with a formal farewell for the popular officer at the Gisborne police station.
Snr Sgt Brown says youth and community policing has been a major focus for her since early in her career.
“The message is the same for all parents. Education is really important, particularly for Maori youth.
“Keep your children at school as long as possible.”
She says it keeps their brains going, gives them healthy ideas and helps them set goals.
“It also helps reduce the workload on police.”
Asked about the apparent growth in the amount of youth offending, Snr Sgt Brown says it comes and goes.
“At the moment it has evened out, despite what people might think as they drive about the city late at night and see the numbers of young people out and about.”
The Gisborne community has started to work more cohesively on youth issues and other social issues like family violence over the past three to four years, she says.
“Progress is being made in those areas.”
Snr Sgt Brown, or just Moera Brown as she’ll be known from tomorrow, is going to be running the Katoa bed and breakfast establishment at Manutuke from December, along with members of her family.
She graduated from the Police College in December 1979, celebrating her 21st birthday at about the same time.
“Policewomen in those days were not allowed to carry batons. We had a pair of handcuffs, a pretty blue handbag and a really stylish velvet hat that did not survive the rain too well,” she says.
Nowadays policemen and women carry long batons, tasers and occasionally a pistol.
“It says that equality is here!”
She was posted to Lower Hutt initially for two years, then transferred to South Auckland until 1993.
It was there that she took part in one of her more memorable operations.
“The team I was leading went armed to a warehouse after reports of shots fired, saw a man with a shotgun in his hands, arrested him, and then searched the place to find over 30 illegal firearms,” she says.
Snr Sgt Brown returned to her hometown Gisborne in 2000, after serving as an instructor at the Police College from 1994, where she was promoted to Senior Sergeant.
At that time the New Zealand Police had far more men in the ranks than women.
Asked how men reacted to taking orders from a woman, she says it was not really an issue for her.
“At the end of the day it is about the person, not the gender.”
Snr Sgt Brown says she has thoroughly enjoyed serving the community.
“Policing as an occupation consumes your life. I have missed out on a lot of family time over the years because of my work.
“I am quite content that I have done enough in 33 years so I do not expect to miss being a police officer.
“I will, however, miss the people I have worked with — both my police colleagues and members of the community.”
Moera Brown will still be a very active sports coach and is looking forward to having more time to devote to sports — particularly to netball and anything to do with her beloved YMP.