There are always pros and cons for a policeman who’s grown up in a small town.
So it is with Constable Chris Chapman, who’s come back to Ōtaki only in March. Old school mates might expect more leniency, but local knowledge counts for a lot.
Either way, Chris is comfortable in his job. He’s a man who seems confident in his ability to handle just about any situation, which is no surprise given his experience.
He was in the Army for several years, rising to sergeant. He had a tour of duty to East Timor in 2001-02 and time as an instructor at Waiouru Army Camp.
Chris’s family were farming in Ōtaki Gorge Road when he was born, and later moved to Paraparaumu and Ashhurst before returning to a farm in the eastern foothills of Rāhui Road. While Dad Alan farmed, Mum Pam ran Te Moana Rest Home on the highway.
After leaving college, Chris worked at Mobil for several years pumping petrol, when it was operating on the corner of the highway and Mill Road (where Sunrans Spas is now) and when it moved to its current location.
He then worked at Chris Thomsen Motors, also on the highway.
Police work, howewver, was still very much part of the career plan. In his early 20s, Chris was about to join up when he spoke to local policeman Dave Pike and got some advice he wasn’t expecting.
“Get some life experience under your belt,” Dave told him.
Chris took the advice and in 2000 joined the Army instead – still with policing in mind. He was soon in East Timor as a peacekeeper.
“Fortunately it was fairly quiet by that time,” he says. ““It was good experience though, seeing how other people lived and helping them to rebuild their lives after the militia wrecked their country.”
After rising to sergeant and an instructor to recruits, Chris decided the time was right to do what he always wanted to do.
In 2009 he joined the police, with his first posting in Levin, where he was on the Public Safety Team (PST) for a few years before working on the Family Violence Team, Tactical Crime Unit and then returning to PST.
In 2017 he went to Police Training College and taught tactical options training and was a firearms instructor. In March this year, he was posted back to Ōtaki. He is married with four children..
“I’m enjoying being back,” Chris says. “The biggest challenge in a small town is always going to be that people are reluctant to give us information because it might be about someone they know, and sometimes because they don’t think it’s important. But a bit here and a bit there builds a picture that we can act on.”
So what kind of polceman is Chris?
“I think I’m firm but fair. I’d like to think I treat people they way I’d like to be treated.”