She’s not in uniform, but for the Ōtaki public, Fiona King is probably the most recognisable face at the local police station.
Fiona is the frontline support officer at the station. While that essentially means she’s the public face that attends the station counter when people come in to talk about an incident, report a crime or offer some useful information confidentially, there’s much more to the job.
“I’m usually the first point of contact and people will come in for all sorts of reasons,” Fiona says. “Some will just want advice, but many come in to report something that’s happened to them or their property, like burglary or wilful damage. It can be a stressful time for some, and they can be upset. It’s about dealing with their complaint with empathy and respect, and reassuring them we’re here to help them out.
“The majority of people are good to deal with. Occasionally there will be the odd angry person, but listening to what they have to say respectfully usually helps to calm the situation.”
Apart from the customer service role, Fiona co-ordinates much of the administrative work required at the station. That can include processing prosecution files for court, logging and filing incident reports including lost property and dealing with found property, handling phone calls to the station and providing administrative support to the officers.
Although she’s available at the station from 9am-3pm Monday to Friday, Fiona says most enquiries and reporting can be done remotely – either online or by phone to the Police Crime Reporting Line (CRL) on 06 364-7366.
“I know some people like to interact face-to-face, and that’s fine. That’s what I’m here for.”
In May, Fiona will have been with the police for 28 years, and she’s still enjoying the job. The variety of work appeals, and anything can crop up so no day is the same.
“I try to go out of my way to help people, and there’s a real sense of satisfaction when I can help and they’re happy.”
Fiona started out at the Police National Headquarters at Wellington in May 1991 as an administration clerk. She co-ordinated the administration for the Police/Ministry of Transport merger, ensuring all traffic officers attended a training course at the Police College, before the merger took place. From there she moved to the Police National Recruiting Office, first as a clerk and then, in 1995, she was appointed deputy co-ordinator of recruiting, and then on to the Human Resources Appointments section in 1997.
After seven years commuting from Ōtaki, in June 1998 the job of what was then called watch-house officer came up at Ōtaki. She’s never looked back.