The National, Wednesday July 31st, 2013
MARLBOROUGH’S longest serving police officer says an overseas deployment to Bougainville has made him realise how lucky he is to live in New Zealand.
Detective Richard Rolton joined the police force in 1975. According to a report in the Marlborough Express in New Zealand, Rolton, after almost 29 years working at the Blenheim police station, put his hand up for an overseas deployment.
He was sent to Bougainville, the autonomous region in Papua New Guinea.
He joined six other New Zealand officers in Bougainville acting as advisers to the Bougainville Police Service as part of the Bougainville community policing project.
The project, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and managed by New Zealand police, puts frontline police in Bougainville to advise and assist the development of Bougainville police.
Rolton left at the end of October last year and returned to Blenheim in early June.
His deployment was initially for six months as adviser to the northern region commander, but he stayed an extra two months as contingent commander.
Bougainville, which is about a third of the size of New Zealand with a population of about 175,000, was full of friendly, peace-loving people, Rolton said.
“They’re very happy with what they have. The kids walk to school, they’re clean, they’re tidy, they’re out there playing in the sports field in front of our place. Sport is very important to them,” he said.
“When I first arrived we were getting woken up at 5am because there’s a basketball court about 20 metres away. It was cooler at that time. You’d hear this bounce, bounce, bounce.”
He never considered himself in danger and did not see any violence, but the three most common types of crime committed related to domestic violence, serious assaults and sexual offences, he said.