Bronwyn Owens is the children and families pastor at Kumeu Baptist Church. She is also a volunteer for Nor-West Community Patrol. This is her story.
Tell us a bit about Nor-West Community Patrol
We cover Kumeu, Huapai, Waimauku, Muriwai, Riverhead and Taupaki in northwest Auckland. There are a few estates in the area, with lots of construction happening. These have been hotspots for tools and machinery being stolen.
I am rostered on roughly once every four to six weeks. There is no ‘typical’ shift, as the times we go out vary depending on the patrollers themselves. This is generally in the evenings but can be afternoons. Most of my shifts have been between 7pm and 11pm, but some patrollers start at 11pm and finish in the early hours of the morning.
What does a community patroller do?
Each week the police update community patrols with a list of vehicles, people and areas to keep a look out for. There is always a long list of any stolen vehicles. Sometimes we will touch base with the local police on duty. We then go through the notes left in the car and head out. We drive around, looking out for anything that might not be right. If we come across anything suspicious, we let the police know and they then give us further instructions.
What is the most interesting thing that has happened on your watch?
Most patrols are quiet but we did have one late last year that proved to be a bit more ‘exciting’. A woman and her two male friends had been drinking heavily and got into an argument. The guys kicked her out of the car at a local petrol station, telling her that they would go and rob a local liquor store by themselves. She dobbed in her ‘friends’ to the police, who then phoned us. They asked us to drive a circuit between the four local liquor stores and to keep an eye out for this car and its occupants. We spent the next 90 minutes driving a circuit between Waimauku and Kumeu but didn’t spot anything!
What got you involved originally?
I believe that we should be out in our communities, helping and serving in any way we can. I had recently stopped being a road patroller for the local primary school and was looking for another way to serve in the community.
How does being a community patroller connect with your faith?
Firstly, it gives me an opportunity to serve my community. I was born and grew up in this area, have lived here most of my life, and have watched it change from a farming community to a busy fringe suburb of Auckland. I love being able to serve the people that live and work here.
Secondly, we have great conversations in the car! It is a fantastic way to get to know your patrol partner. I usually come away with ideas on how I can pray for that person or their family.
Any final comment about community patrols?
Volunteers man the community patrols and the majority are older people. We would love more people, especially younger people, to join the teams around the country. For example, Nor-West Community Patrol has two patrol cars, but usually only one car goes out because we don’t have enough volunteers. There is a small amount of online training modules to do but they are not hard, and patrols are always done in pairs (a driver and an observer/recorder), so you’re never on your own. You can find out more at cpnz.org.nz. Why not give it a try?