Police hope to clear a backlog in the processing of new firearms licences and licence renewals ahead of the beginning of duck hunting season in May.
Inspector Paul Carpenter says the police are “always keen to introduce new and novel initiatives to highlight rural crime. Waikato has fronted these endeavours with mounted patrols at key public events and red-and-orange hi-visibility patrol cars on state highways.”
The latest is talks with CB Norwood Distributors leading to the company lending a New Holland tractor for the season, in police livery and with flashing lights and sirens.
Carpenter says “initial response [by locals] has been a quick double-take, then they reach for the camera… just what the concept is all about – promoting discussion of rural road deaths, drugs activity on farms, personal safety, stock thefts and illegal hunting.”
The tractor has appeared at Central Districts Field Days and the South Island Agricultural Field Days and will be at National Fieldays.
“Rural areas present unique challenges for police,” Carpenter says. “There are longer distances, lack of cellphone and radio networks, and smaller numbers of staff [needing] to do more in-depth engagement with smaller communities.
“And tactics that may work in large urban centres may not work too well in a rural setting.
“The key thing is, police need to know about incidents and rural residents need to feel comfortable reporting issues to us. We need to move away from the mindset of, ‘oh the police are too busy, I won’t trouble them’.”