A milestone has been reached with the graduation of more than 2,000 new Police officers since the Coalition Government took office in October 2017.
Police Minister Stuart Nash says the graduation today of Wing 335 marks a surge of 2,023 new officers, and coincides with some significant breakthroughs against organised crime networks.
“The Coalition Agreement not only committed to major investment in new Police, but to focus on organised crime behind drug offending, violence and money laundering. Today I can announce some major highlights of the past year’s operations,” Mr Nash said.
“In the 2019 calendar year Police seized $101 million in assets from offenders involved in serious and organised crime. It was a 66 percent increase on 2018, when $61 million in goods was seized.
“A total of 491 items were restrained. They include properties and houses, high-spec vehicles like Harley Davidsons and Rolls Royces, bank accounts, piles of cash, crypto currency, jewellery and a host of other items such as gold bullion and farm vehicles.
“There have been regional highlights too. In Bay of Plenty, Police say organised crime and gangs is their number one priority. They have seized around $6.4 million in assets from gangs since the 2017/18 financial year, and are keeping up the pressure.
“In Hawkes Bay, a specialist Gang Focus Unit has arrested more than 100 gang members since mid-2019; seized dozens of illegal firearms, more than a kilo of methamphetamine; more than $250,000 in cash, dozens of vehicles and tens of thousands of dollars in other assets.
“There have also been staggering meth busts by Police in the past year. The combined total of Customs and Police meth seizures in 2019 amounted to almost 1.8 tonnes, six times the quantity recovered in 2018, when 300kg was seized.
“Already during 2020, there have been further breakthroughs against trans-national crime. A major operation against money laundering saw $10.25 million restrained this month. The health fraud against the U.S government involved money funnelled into accounts here. Police worked with the FBI to disrupt the offending.
“Another major trans-national operation in February disrupted a methamphetamine network with links to Chile, Brazil, the Philippines and Italy. Operation Mystic has so far resulted in the arrest of ten business professionals, the seizure of $5 million worth of drugs, illegal firearms, more than $1 million dollars in cash, and luxury vehicles.
“Police will strip criminals of their assets under powers to go after the proceeds of crime.
“Methamphetamine is fuelling much of our organised crime. Wastewater testing has now been in place for a full year. Results for the last quarter to October 2019 showed average weekly consumption was 13.7kg, the lowest since nationwide records began. It’s down by 17 percent on the 16.6kg average weekly use measured in the first quarter.
“The decline in methamphetamine use may indicate that Police and Customs seizures are having an impact on supply. But we are also targeting demand for the drug through increased spending on mental health and addiction services, announced in Budget 2019.
“The milestone of 2,023 new cops is testament to the effort of sworn and civilian Police staff who recruit, train and deploy new constables through the Royal New Zealand Police College and the new Auckland campus.
“The four-month training regime is tough on aspiring Police officers. It’s also a big ask for those behind the scenes, from the Commissioner down, who are committed to getting the best out of every individual recruit,” said Mr Nash.
“The recruitment campaign’s motto is ‘Do You Care Enough’ and the impact of the surge in Police numbers is already being felt. Communities look to Police for crime prevention, community safety, and reassurance in tough times.
“We are the true government of law and order, committed to making a real difference for communities,” Mr Nash said.
By the numbers:
- 2,023 new Police officers deployed since October 2017
- $100 million+ in assets seized from gangs and organised crime networks in 2019
- 2,138 illegal firearms seized from gangs and other offenders since March 2019
- Record methamphetamine busts by Police and Customs: total 1.8 tonnes in 2019
- Wastewater testing shows meth use down by 17 percent in year to Oct. 2019
- Greater diversity on frontline: 32% more women; 20% more Maori; 38% more Pasifika and 79% more Asian officers since start of 17/18 FY
- 13% growth in total workforce, 1,143 extra Police since start of 17/18 FY
- Record number of new Police in a single calendar year: 854 officers in 2019
New Police constables have been deployed to Districts as follows:
Bay of Plenty