Napier residents disappointed police Eagle helicopter has left Hawke's Bay

 Napier residents disappointed police Eagle helicopter has left Hawke's Bay
Photo credit: RNZ


Some Napier residents are disappointed after learning the police Eagle helicopter has left Hawke's Bay.

The helicopter was deployed in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle to reassure residents following reports of looting and other opportunistic crime.

Napier resident Jules Cunningham set up a petition on 5 March seeking to keep the Eagle in Hawkes Bay.

It left for Auckland that same day.

Cunningham said many locals were feeling vulnerable without its presence.

"I'm not feeling happy it's not here. There's already murmuring among social media that they really miss it," she said.

"When it was around there was that huge sense of security, that there was that extra set of eyes, that people who were up to no good were going to be much easier tracked from above."

She was worried worse-off communities would be targeted by criminals.

"Especially for the more rural affected communities that still have silt covered houses and personal possessions they haven't been able to dig out yet. I'm disappointed there's not going to be that support."

Cunningham's petition has over 2600 signatures.

Police told RNZ the Eagle was not needed from now on in the Eastern District's cyclone response.

"We are now moving towards a recovery phase, so it is appropriate that Eagle has returned to its regular duties," a spokesperson said.

"Additional police staff remain in Eastern to assist the recovery effort and support routine policing."

An additional 145 police staff were dispersed throughout the Eastern District last month to help keep the peace, amid reports of widespread looting and gang violence in the stricken area.

National Party police spokesperson Mark Mitchell said at the time things were "not fine" in the Eastern Districts, with police being stretched "too thin" to have the presence needed for people's safety in the area.

Communities were setting up roadblocks and conducting patrols themselves, he said, due to a lack of police presence.

Police said claims of a crime spike after the cyclone had been greatly exaggerated, and were being used as a "political football".


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