Police from around country still helping out in city
Last updated 05:00 01/04/2011
Hundreds of police from around New Zealand will be sent to Christchurch for tours of duty so local officers can get back to their normal business.
Officers from all 11 police districts are working two-week rotations, patrolling Christchurch 24 hours a day as part of Operation Earthquake. The operation is headed by Superintendent Andy McGregor, usually national manager for communication centres based in Wellington.
Suicides, fraud, mental health-related crime and family violence could increase as the city fought to recover, he said.
"There's a lot of stress and a lot of fear and frustration out there now, and a lot of people who need a lot of help," he said.
"Money is short and things are pretty tight."
McGregor said it was vital that Canterbury officers returned to their normal duties while the 160 Operation Earthquake officers dealt with cordons and put extra patrols in the suburbs. It could be six months before they withdrew entirely, he said.
"Canterbury will be at a stage where they will be able to include the extra reassurance patrols, because I believe that will keep going for quite a while."
Cordons would slowly be reduced to an inner zone "where we can't do much more, but those buildings have to be demolished".
"We will then put a solid cordon around the red zone, which will basically then be a demolition and construction zone," he said. "We will employ private security guards to patrol that cordon."
The main job was patrolling suburbs to reassure residents during the day and defusing drunken crime at night as people crowded suburban bars.
"During the day it's about pressing the flesh," McGregor said. "As you go into the evenings, it's around visiting licensed premises for alcohol-related offences."