Ticked Off: New Zealand Protection Service

The New Zealand Protection Services (NZPS) is New Zealand's version of the USA's Secret Service. For the first time, one officer has given an on-camera interview on the unique challenges of protecting our most important politicians and visiting VIPs - including former US President Barack Obama.

Newshub reporter Mitchell Alexander was given the exclusive interview with Sergeant Stephen Worthy.  

NZPS (formerly known as the Diplomatic Protection Services), provide protection primarily for the Prime Minister, Governor-General and visiting dignitaries.

Sergeant Worthy says his job requires meticulous planning.

"Any particular day with our VIPs actually starts three or four days prior. We have to confirm every activity for that VIP that day and every location they go to has to be visited [prior to them arriving]."

He says one of the most stressful situations he’s been in involved protecting a VIP from a crowd of oncoming protesters.

"That's quite a high pressure situation when you have hundreds of protesters running at you."

At the other end of the spectrum, Sergeant Worthy says keeping focused on quiet night shifts can be difficult, but says Protection Services are never "just standing around".

"There's a lot going on behind the sunglasses. You're constantly scanning your surroundings, figuring out what's going on."

One of the most difficult aspects of the protection service, according to Sergeant Worthy, is mediating a VIPs interaction with the public at large events, particularly when they're walking down a line of people shaking hands.

Sergeant Worthy says while they try to give Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern a relatively normal life, they will essentially be present 24/7.  

"It's always a fine line between allowing them to live a somewhat normal life, doing normal daily functions, but then also maintaining a level of security around that."

Our secret service is keeping some secrets however - Sergeant Worthy won’t reveal if officers use codenames for our politicians, or what those names might be.

"Well they wouldn't really be codenames if I told you publicly what they were or if we use them. That'll just have to be left to your imagination."

Watch the video for the full interview.

Ticked Off is an ongoing series keeping you in the know with what's going on in the political world.

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