At Christmas I was given an exciting reportage/photojournalism assignment in New Zealand by a Swedish trade magazine, Polisförbundet, the Swedish Police Union magazine. Working with Swedish journalist Ossian Grahn, I was commissioned to photograph a story on the use of non-lethal weapons (tasers) by New Zealand Police. Ossian was in Wellington for one week interviewing members of the New Zealand Police and the New Zealand Police Association, as well as organising permission for us to go on a ride-a-long.
We arrived at Wellington police station at 4pm on Saturday afternoon. We met the two officers who we would be shadowing for the next 12 hours, and followed them into the station carpark to get into the police car. At that moment, a high-ranking cop materialised and brashly told us we were not allowed to take pictures while out on the ride-a-long. Arrangements for the ride-a-long had been negotiated between both the Swedish and New Zealand Police Associations and New Zealand Police in the months prior to our visit and getting pictures to illustrate the story was the main purpose of the assignment (for me anyway!).
So for the first three hours, I followed the police around on their duties while surreptitiously trying to snap images from the hip using the camera’s silent shutter function. All the while Ossian was frantically calling his contacts at the Police Association to find out what the misunderstanding was and to try to get permission to photograph as was previously arranged. Three hours later the confusion was over with, and I could take the memory card out of my sock and openly take pictures to my heart’s content. Luckily for us, the more interesting events occurred after the photo ban was lifted.
It was an eye-opening experience traveling around with the police and getting to experience how they operate and view the city. It gave me view of Wellington’s seedy underbelly that I hadn’t seen before!
Having the opportunity to create this reportage and meeting and working with Ossian was also a great experience. Hopefully we will be able to work together on another assignment if the opportunity presents itself.
A portrait of New Zealand police constables Richard Briscoe (left) and Anthony Davidson (right), who Ossian and myself shadowed for their 12 hour shift.
Marque of Excellence: A New Zealand Police vehicle.
Constable Richard Briscoe places suspect white powder into an evidence bag. The powder was found on the floor of a furniture workshop.
Constable Richard Briscoe arrests a young man on Blair Street in Wellington for disorderly behaviour. The man was allegedly caught urinating in the entrance of a retail store after consuming too much alcohol.
Constable Richard Briscoe completes paperwork in the holding cells of Wellington Central police station after arresting a young man for disorderly behaviour for urinating in the entrance of a retail store. Patience is a necessity of the job for Police when dealing with intoxicated people.
A police car parked at the entrance to the holding cells in Wellington Central police station.
Constables Richard Briscoe (left) and Anthony Davidson complete paperwork at Wellington Central police station.
A man who is known to police as a persistent offender and is in alleged breach of his bail conditions is spotted on Wellington’s Manners Street by police CCTV operators and is subsequently arrested.
Police constables Richard Briscoe (right) and Anthony Davidson (left) investigate a report of a domestic disturbance in a block of flats in Berhampore, a Wellington suburb.
Constables Richard Briscoe (far right) and Anthony Davidson (front right) talk with a young couple who are known to have a record of historic domestic violence.
The young couple are interviewed separately by Richard and Anthony. It was fantastic to see the negotiating and mediating skills the police have when dealing with delicate and sensitive situations, and in this case, it was handled exceptionally well.
The Taser X26: Non-lethal weapons are routinely carried by New Zealand police to reports of domestic disturbances.
Constable Anthony Davidson performs a routine traffic stop on a vehicle with defective rear lights. Ossian is just visible in the back of the car, writing on his iPad.
Constable Anthony Davidson sits inside the police car during a routine traffic stop and is illuminated by the vehicles interior light.
Constable Richard Briscoe performs a routine traffic stop on a vehicle with defective rear lights.
Patrolling the streets of Wellington’s entertainment district on Courtenay Place. An air of intoxicated animosity followed Richard and Anthony as they patrolled Wellington’s entertainment district in the early hours of the morning.
Patrolling the streets of Wellington’s entertainment district on Courtenay Place.
Constable Richard Briscoe talks to a woman regarding a domestic disturbance outside Wellington City Library during the final minutes of his shift at 2am. It is alleged that the woman attempted to stab her partner in the neck with a plastic fork.
The woman begins to have a seizure and constables Richard Briscoe and Anthony Davidson place the woman into the recovery position while waiting for paramedics to arrive.
Paramedics attend to the woman who is believed to be having a seizure as a side effect of mixing anti-depressant medication with alcohol.
Below are the tearsheets for the printed article: