PAULA BENNETT: Policing, a career in demand

Do you care enough to be a cop?

That was the tag line of Police's recruitment campaign last year which featured a video of a young boy rummaging through a bin in Auckland, looking for something to eat.

The social experiment videos, including "Hungry Boy" and "Collapsed Man", were viewed by over two million people and marked a turning point in the way Police Recruitment sought to reach out to potential new cops.

Those viral videos were quickly followed by the worldwide phenomenon #runningmanchallenge video viewed directly by almost ten million people, and countless others on news casts around the world, eventually winning a top social media award.

They're all part of a new way of promoting Police as a career to 18 to 24-year-olds, with the latest version a New Year's resolution-themed summer campaign promoting the key factors that motivate people to join the Police.

And it seems to be working well.
Really, really well.

In January and February this year, over 1350 people applied to join Police, more than twice the number of applications as the same period as last year.

Visits to the website were up substantially, from 34,000 in January 2016 to 50,000 this January.

Perhaps most promisingly, the number of women signalling their interest in joining the Police jumped 61 per cent from the same time last year.

I don't see it slowing down any time soon.

Our announcement of 880 new sworn Police officers over the next four years provides more options for a career in Police, but it's the work of Police itself that provides the incentives.

It's the growing trust and confidence that New Zealand has in our Police and what they do to keep our communities safe.

It's the day-to-day interactions with the community constables who are now out from behind the desk and are hitting the beat.

It's the hugely positive impact Police have on our communities - whether that's through inter-agency work on family violence, community outreach at Pride or through Blue Light, or the leadership they show during times of natural disasters.

So often we forget the huge contribution our constabulary make every day when they're out preventing crime in our communities.

We almost forget their presence around New Zealand, as a barrier between protestors and protestees; as first responders to the most tragic of crashes; and as community members intertwined on our school committees and in our sports teams.

What I hope we don't forget is what a life-changing career option joining the Police can be.

Police are ready and well placed to recruit and train the additional 220 new recruits a year.

The first of the new extra recruits will start in July and be out in the community by November.

More and more they'll reflect the makeup of New Zealand.

It's my hope there'll be more women, more Maori, more Pacific and more Asian Police officers to reflect the communities they'll be working so closely with every day.

So, what are you waiting for - do you care enough to be a cop?