Ask A Cop: Living A Childhood Dream

Constable Laurence Vautier, Wellington District Road Policing

Why did you become a Police officer?

I remember that it was something that I'd wanted to do since a very young age: maybe since I was five or six. It probably helped that, at such an impressionable age, Police cars had flashing lights, loud sirens and zoomed past, always in a rush to get somewhere just beyond the distance. It captured my imagination and captivated me as a kid and was something that stuck with me as I got older. I remember not long after finishing school realising that I wanted to become a Police officer because I wanted to be able to give back to the community, to be able to help people, and to be there for people who can't always help themselves and keep people safe. Now that I reflect back on almost 10 years of service I'm glad I joined when I did. Every day has come with it's own challenges and rewards and not a single day has been the same.

What’s the most rewarding part of being a police officer?

The most rewarding thing is the people: the people I work with, and the people I get to help because of my job. I work with some amazing people who come from all walks of life and bring different perspectives to the job. As a Police officer you form some life-long bonds with colleagues. In terms of the people I get to help on a day-to-day basis, there's nothing better than being able to go out and help people. Maybe solving a problem they have, providing advice, keeping them safe or just spending a few minutes to talk to their kids and make their day. (Riding a Police bike can also be an advantage.)

What's the biggest challenge in your role?

The biggest challenge in my role would be a misconception about what I do on a day-to-day basis, working in Road Policing. My job can often carry a bit of a negative stigma and (a small minority) of the public sometimes think we're out there to ruin people’s days and issue lots of tickets for no reason at all, when it’s completely the opposite. I go to work every day to keep people safe, and keep our roads safe through both education and enforcement. Thankfully, that challenge can often be overcome by taking the time to have a conversation with the person that I'm dealing with on the side of the road. The best way to overcome the challenge is to explain things and treat people with respect. I try to have a positive impact whenever I'm dealing with someone that I've stopped but there is definitely still a negative stigma attached to my role.

What are the ingredients of a good partnership between retailers and police?

Two-way communication is definitely a key ingredient for a good partnership, along with a willingness to listen and trust. I encourage my staff to get to know their local retailers and petrol stations by taking the time to talk to staff and find out about what’s been going on. Once you've built up trust, it’s amazing what positive conversations can be had between Police and retailers. Two-way communication also means listening to the issues and concerns of retailers and taking on board what they have to say. Sometimes staff ask tell us about a certain problem which we can sort with regular patrols in the area. Other times it's more difficult and requires a bit more thought, but communication is the key.

If you could send a Valentine to anyone in the community to let them know they’re appreciated by police, who would it be?

I would send a Valentine to the people that stop to help others without a thought about themselves. Recently I attended a crash where the driver was having a diabetic episode and was quite confused and upset. Thankfully some kind people stopped to help and stayed with the driver until Police and Ambulance arrived. They gave their time to help someone else and didn't ask for anything in return—and that was really appreciated by the driver.