Community buy-in and quiet weekends: What it's like to be a police officer amid a COVID-19 crisis

Constable Laura Jackson has been working as a police officer during lockdown.
Constable Laura Jackson has been working as a police officer during lockdown. Photo credit: Supplied

Fighting on the frontline: As we look to transition into alert level 2, Newshub is talking to the essential workers who have provided vital support to Kiwis during lockdown.

She may only be in her early twenties, but Constable Laura Jackson already has three years under her belt as part of the Hutt Valley police force.

Times have been tough working on the frontline as a police officer throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, but she says the pandemic has given her a new appreciation for community and creativity.

Jackson says overall members of the public have been "fantastic" - but there are always a few outliers.

"You have these people who are consistently letting the side down and going against all the work we're doing - we have had to arrest and charge people who are just consistently breaching the rules," the 23-year-old told Newshub.

Luckily, people are happy to help those working hard to keep the country safe.

"I have been surprised at how willing [the public] are to help us out by calling in breaches and pointing out the weakest links in the chain."

She says that the "chain" of community is stronger than ever.

"It reminds me of the aftermath of March 15 (the Christchurch attack) - when everyone is brought together by something so tumultuous and scary there's a real sense of community,"

"Police values mean we always practice empathy anyway but at the moment there's definitely a more personal understanding of what people are going through because we're all in together."

There's another bonus too - with Kiwis staying at home, Jackson's weekends are much quieter.

"There's less drunk and disorderly on the Friday and Saturday nights," she said through laughter.

It's also brought a change in the way police respond to family harm, says Jackson.

The lockdown resulted in an increase in domestic violence - "in times like these, everything turns inwards," she says.

However police could no longer send victims to their families or friends if they felt unsafe - so they needed to get creative.

Police have worked alongside the Ministry of Social Development to ensure safe housing for the vulnerable without overwhelming existing shelters.

"There's been a more collaborative response. I really enjoy that there are more options for our vulnerable people so there is a place for them to go without overwhelming services - it's not up to me but I hope we keep that going," Jackson told Newshub.

Despite the challenges the lockdown has presented Jackson says her passion for policing hasn't wavered.

"I love my job, I just love it. Every single day I get up and put on that uniform, and I just feel proud."