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Clutha-Taieri area response manager Senior Sergeant Stan Leishman said an additional officer, who was rostered on for the first time last weekend, was instrumental in the capture of a man who led police on a dramatic five-hour car chase through Otago on Saturday night.
He said the officer deployed a ‘‘stinger’’ that helped slow the suspect’s progress, a move without which the incident may have increased in seriousness.
The new roster would boost on-duty police numbers in the Clutha District by about 20% during ‘‘peak times’’, Snr Sgt Leishman said.
‘‘It’s just a coincidence we had a significant incident on the first weekend of this redeployment of daytime staff, but it demonstrates how useful it’s likely to be.’’
In general, the additional staff would be rostered on during Saturday nights, he said.
‘‘Saturdays are usually the biggest test of our resources as a team, largely alcohol-related.
‘‘At 3am in Balclutha it can sometimes get dangerous. If we can support our staff working at specific times of high demand, then instead of sometimes just having to watch things escalate to maintain officer safety, we can work to de-escalate problems before they become serious.
‘‘In the end, everybody benefits.’’
He said ‘‘in general’’ the redeployment — which would mean staff working one Saturday night out of five — had been greeted positively.
Officers of all ranks were included in the redeployment, and the trial would form part of a wider ‘‘intelligence-based’’ targeting of related weekend issues.
‘‘This is an opportunity for staff to broaden their skill range and make themselves more current.
‘‘It’s an integrated deployment model used successfully elsewhere in New Zealand and, I believe, makes the best use of the limited staff we have.’’
The trial will run for six months before review.