Inspector Sunny Patel is the Area Commander for the New Zealand Police on the North Shore. It is a role he has had for more than four years. Sunny served in the Metropolitan Police in London for over nine years before coming to New Zealand, where he coached cricket at the both the Takapuna and Birkenhead clubs. He loved the place so much he decided to stay. Sunny joined the New Zealand Police in 2007 with a great deal of his 13 years of service being spent on the North Shore, his home patch. Channel Mag’s Aidan Bennett caught up with Sunny in December for a chat.
AIDAN BENNETT: Sunny, I understand that you came to New Zealand coaching cricket and ended up staying? Tell us about that journey and why you made the decision to stay.
SUNNY PATEL: I took a career break from the Metropolitan Police in London as I wanted to try something new. I have always been a keen cricketer, having played from a young age. My wife and I decided to come to New Zealand, where I was lucky enough to coach cricket. After our first year in New Zealand, we decided that the lifestyle and climate were too good to give up, so we decided to stay.
AB: You have had a long career in policing, it must be something you really enjoy?
SP: I have been privileged to have worked for two great Police services. I still really enjoy what I do and the satisfaction that I get from helping people and serving the community. Once my wife and I had made the decision to stay in New Zealand, the Police service was always going to be my long-term career option.
AB: And most of your life in New Zealand has been spent on the North Shore. You clearly enjoy the place?
SP: I love everything that the North Shore has to offer, from the awesome beaches to the great community vibe. I have also policed in Counties Manukau for several years, which is also a place I am fond of.
AB: So what exactly does the Area Commander for North Shore role entail?
SP: I have the privilege of leading all the Police staff who work on the North Shore; they are fantastic people who come to work daily to help people and make a difference in our community. I oversee all facets of policing (Prevention, Response and Investigations) on the North Shore.
AB: I see you have also studied at Massey University, doing a double degree including a Masters. Is that something you have taken on yourself or is done through the police?
SP: Having joined the Police straight out of college, I wanted to study university topics that were relevant to my job and position. I decided on a Business Studies Degree majoring in Human Resource Management and a Masters in International Security, with an endorsement in Intelligence. Both of these were supported by the Police and which I find very useful and relevant in my current position.
AB: What are the key issues facing the North Shore area from the policing perspective?
SP: The growing population and increase in housing on the North Shore will bring about challenges, as it will likely increase the demand on Police services. However, with all challenges there will also be opportunities, especially with building partnerships and community engagement.
AB: Any specific advice for Channel readers? Near 100% of our readers are residents in your patch.
SP: I need our community to play their part in helping prevent crime, especially burglaries and vehicle crime – the majority of which can be prevented. It is really basic advice: Stop leaving valuable items in your car; Ensure your car is locked even if parked in your driveway; and, keep your house locked up – don’t be tempted to leave windows and doors open because it’s warmer. We know that offenders are opportunistic and if they are in an area and see your car with valuables or empty homes with windows open, they will not hesitate to take the opportunity to break in. Also we have daylight saving – which means people are out and about later.
And most importantly – keep an eye out for your neighbours. If you see any suspicious activity then please call 111 – often our best catches come when members of our community have called something in and we can apprehend offenders in the act. Any other suspicious behaviour can be reported by calling Crime Stoppers (0800 555 111) anonymously or 105.
AB: You obviously love your cricket. Do you still play or coach and what else do you get up to in your spare time?
SP: I am currently coaching my daughter's under 13 cricket team, which is enjoyable. I do miss playing cricket; however, it is difficult with other commitments – cricket takes up the whole day! I try to keep fit and go to the gym most mornings. I am also a keen footballer and play for Birkenhead over 35s – although I don’t look over 35 (LOL!) – in the Northern Football league. I try to fit in golf whenever I can but most of all I enjoy spending time with my family.