Heightened police presence around the country as police roll out new Covid-19 response units

Kiwis will be noticing a heightened police presence around the country, as New Zealand police roll out two new Covid-19 response units.

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New units have been set up as part of the force's Covid-19 response. Source: 1 NEWS

Contingency teams have been set up nationwide to patrol essential services and businesses, and maintain public calm during the country’s lockdown.

“We've had to shift our resources to the new demands on us and big part of that is providing assurance to members of the public,” Wellington District Commander Superintendent Corrie Parnell told 1 NEWS.

“It’s really important that police are visible during these times. More than ever there’s so much uncertainty as a nation, and that calls for our people to step up.”

More police out and about means bringing some members of the force back onto the frontlines.

“We've got some that have come back into traditional frontline policing roles that haven't done it for some time. They’re having to get used to shift work again.”

Teams of officers pay places like supermarkets and chemists visits during the day, to check in on business owners and managers, but also to speak to members of the public.

One concern amoungst supermarket shoppers is people begging or asking for money near queue lines, often within a two-metre distance.

Wellington Police’s Acting Sergeant Eddie Karauria says this is something that the new units are monitoring. They spoke to 1 NEWS about a particular incident at a supermarket near Wellington’s Oriental Bay.

“We have people within in need. However, he was sitting within the 2 metre radius of the walking line, which was giving people a bit of bother so we just asked him to move a little bit further down so that he could still possibly get the help that he needs but also be within that safety barrier for people,” he said.

The force are also more present around public parks and spaces, especially when the weather is good.

“If there's an area where people are going to be, that's where you'll probably find police,” Acting Sergeant Karauria said.

A special team to deal with any Covid-19 deaths has also been set up as part of the police’s response to coronavirus.

The Fatality Response Unit is made up of specialists, including search and rescue experts.

Members of the unit are to wear full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when attending incidents.

“If families are unfortunate enough to suffer a loss during this period, they can expect to see our staff wearing some additional, protection wear,” said Sergeant Ants Harmer, a member for the Fatality Response Unit said.