SOUTHLAND woman Tracy Ward was honoured among 77 new police recruits at the Royal New Zealand Police College in Porirua last month.
A spokeswoman for New Zealand Police said several of the recruits had extensive volunteering backgrounds, but Ms Ward, who had spent nine years volunteering for the Riverton and Invercargill fire brigades, was a standout.
“It’s no surprise Constable Ward has won the Commissioner’s Award for Leadership in recognition of her outstanding potential to lead both herself and others.”
Ms Ward is also a trained mechanic with a national certificate in automotive engineering.
She said she had worked as a mechanic for 14 years, but eventually it felt the job had become routine.
Pursuing a career with the police offered variety, she said.
“It’s got a lot of action and excitement as well as interacting with people and helping them out. There are also so many different paths you can take within the police once you’ve served for two years.”
For anyone thinking of joining the police, persistence was the key to being recruited, she said.
“Keep working at it, it will happen. It took me two years [to get to the training stage]. The fitness standard was what I had to do the most work on. You’ve also got to pass numeracy, literacy and reasoning tests.”
The SCOPE programme had enabled her to spend 40 supervised hours on the job to gain more insight before she committed.
“That was probably the coolest part of the application process.”
There were also in-depth background checks.
“But if your brother was a terrible criminal or something like that, that’s not necessarily a barrier, you just have to disclose it.”
Age was also less of a barrier now, with three of the new recruits she trained with being aged 41 and older, and the oldest being 47.
From the 77 graduates, seven, including Ms Ward, will serve in the southern region.
“I really wanted to come back here because this is what’s important, it’s where you are from and to try to start looking after our people.”
For more information on joining the New Zealand Police, go to www.newcops.co.nz