If something strange is going on in the neighbourhood, the Mosgiel Taieri Community Patrol hopes to spot it. Star reporter Joshua Riddiford hit the streets after dark with patrol volunteers
Curious about Mosgiel after dark and eager for some action, I was prepared for something out of the ordinary as I pulled up outside the Mosgiel police station at 9.30pm on Saturday.
I was to ride with the Mosgiel Taieri Community Patrol as it scoured the town on the lookout for something amiss.
The patrol works closely with the police, and patrol volunteer Hayden Wilson told me its role was to serve as their “eyes and ears”.
Clad in an official yellow community patrol safety vest, I joined Mr Wilson along with long-term volunteer Sharon Buchanan-Letts and aspiring patroller Sally Hicks in the patrol vehicle.
Mrs Buchanan-Letts checked through the list of tasks from Senior Constable Karren Bye, including places to watch, before writing down our names on her sheet.
One site was recently targeted by a burglar, so it would be on our round.
The vehicle was checked and mileage noted.
Finally at “21.56” Mrs Buchanan-Letts radioed police communications: “This is MXCP, we’re 10-3 until approximately 0200 hours”.
Hayden drove out of the police car park and the patrol began.
I learned some jargon during the evening. MXCP means Mosgiel Taieri Community Patrol, NDCP means North Dunedin Community Patrol (the patrol reported something over the intercom during the evening) and 10-3 means “available”.
We moved slowly down Gordon Rd.
Travelling at this pace gave patrollers “more time to look around”, Mrs Buchanan Letts said.
We entered the Taieri College grounds. All was quiet and as it should be.
Mrs Buchanan-Letts wrote “NTR” on her report form. Somewhat anticlimactically, I learned this meant “nothing to report”.
There were a few NTRs as we circulated around other potential night-time haunts of possible troublemakers, such as Memorial Park.
Driving around the grounds of a primary school, we spotted an unlocked door. The call went out to the school principal, who arrived later to lock it up.
I learned Mosgiel late on a Saturday night is what you might expect and did not descend into a scene of gang warfare.
Mosgiel was peaceful this evening but Mrs Buchanan-Letts told me it wasn’t always so quiet. During her nearly eight years on the patrol beat, she had spotted the odd strange sight.
Like the time she saw a guy cantering bareback on a horse down Hagart Alexander Dr.
“I was gobsmacked,” she said.
On other occasions, she and other patrollers had helped to herd errant sheep and cattle.
Mr Wilson and Mrs Buchanan-Letts said they joined the patrol because they wanted to give back to the community. There are 26 patrolling members for Mosgiel, each of whom does only one patrol every three months.
They come from all walks of life. Mrs Buchanan-Letts works as an examination officer at the University of Otago and Mr Wilson in the waste industry. One motivation binds them.
“We want to make sure the community’s safe,” Mrs Buchanan-Letts said.
Nearing midnight, Mr Wilson drove back to the police station. The patrol carried on for another couple of hours but this was where I left them with Mosgiel safe and sound.
For more information about the Mosgiel Taieri Community Patrol, email mosgielcp@xtra.
co.nz. To find your local community patrol, go to www.cpnz.org.nz.