Steve Greally is heading to Wellington after three years as Nelson Bays Police Area Commander. Photo: Simon Bloomberg.

Top cop farewells Nelson

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Cleaning up Bridge St and gaining the confidence and trust of the Nelson public stand out as highlights for  Nelson Bays Police Area Commander, Inspector Steve Greally, who is heading to Wellington next month to take up a job as national manager of road policing.

When Steve arrived in Nelson three years ago, he promised to target the drunken disorder that reigned on Nelson’s Bridge St on Saturday nights, and he delivered on that promise. And while he takes a lot of satisfaction out of that “result” he says one of the biggest accolades for his 137 staff at Nelson Bays police is that “our public trust and confidence is among the highest in New Zealand”.

“Bridge St has been a major focus and I think we have really changed the culture there on Saturday night and Sunday morning. There are far fewer serious assaults, whether they be physical or sexual, which is great.

“But the police have served Nelson Bays very well in all areas and that’s reflected in the public trust in us. I am immensely proud of my staff.

“I know they work extremely hard and I’ve seen them put in a lot of sleepless nights. They have just got on and done the job they believe in so they can make it a safer place for everyone.”

Steve also identifies the downward trend in crime statistics, “a couple” of successful homicide investigations and “good results with the Red Devils”, as other highlights. “The downward trend in the crime stats is pleasing and we have had really good traction over the last three years. But that will hit a lower limit and so we need to keep looking at ways to continually keep improving the way we do things and make gains – that will be one of the biggest challenges for the new area commander.”

Steve says one of the keys to the police’s success over the last three years has been engaging the community and that’s something he learned quickly as an area commander.

“It’s been a steep learning curve and I have learned so much about people. It’s not just about managing staff, it’s also about interacting with the people outside the police and in the community groups – they are the ones who understand the issues.”

Steve says it was a “really tough decision” to leave Nelson after three years but the new job represents a significant opportunity.  “It’s going to be a huge change. As an area commander road policing is part of what I do anyway, but to have a sole focus on road policing is a challenge I’m looking forward to.

“But it was still a really tough decision. My wife, Erin, and I love Nelson – the weather is fantastic, the people are great.

“What’s not to love about Nelson. It’s going to be very hard to leave.”

Steve starts his new role on March 16 and says an new area commander for Nelson has yet to be appointed.