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March 28, 2011 | by  | in Features |
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Community Constable on Campus

Salient talks with Baz Murfin, your friendly neighbourhood cop, about his role at Victoria University.

What does your job involve?

I am a Community Constable for both Vic and Massey. I have a really good relationship with the Counselling Service, the Health Service, with the Student Association. As well as being the face of the Police for the University, I am also the face of the University for the Police. My job, really, is building that relationship between the two—between the Police and the University.

What kind of issues can students come and see you about?

It really can be anything—it might be that people think they might be the victim of crime but they’re not sure. It might even be that people are an offender, or they’ve done something wrong and they just want to know what’s going to happen next. It might be that they just want to come and talk to me about something and just want advice.
All parties at the University, whether victim or offender, will get offered support from the University to try and work through what’s happened or what we can do to stop it from happening again. Some people find themselves an offender and are not quite sure how they got themselves into that position. It might just be that they need pointing in the right direction.

How serious does an issue have to be before someone can come and talk to you?

If people have got genuine questions… I wouldn’t say that there was really any sort of level because what might not be important to one person could be really important to another. So, it might be something like ‘Can I walk across the road if I’m 30 yards from an official crossing or is that classified as jaywalking?’—to them that could be the biggest issue. Other people are not quite sure whether they have a criminal record or not, you know “I’ve got a parking ticket, does that give me a criminal record? Do I need to disclose it to an employer?”.

What would you say to students who are a little bit intimidated about contacting a police officer?

A lot of people believe that if they go to the police and they give a problem, or they’ve been a victim, that the police are going to say “right, OK, we’re going to press charges, we’re going to take it to Court” and you’ll have to go to Court as a witness. A lot of people are afraid of that, and I can understand that because it’s a really daunting thing to do, especially at this time in your life when you’ve got a lot going on. The last thing you need is something playing on your mind whilst you’re trying to study.
It’s really about keeping the person—the victim—in control and saying, you know “these are your options, these are your choices, these are my recommendations, but go away and think about it and come back to me”.

I’ll walk around campus and I’ll bump into people that I’ve dealt with previously and they’ll come and talk to me and say hello and just chew the fat and have a chat. It’s all about making people aware that you’re a human being as well. I just try to be as approachable as possible and hope that the word spreads that people can go “oh yeah, speak to Baz, he’s good, he’ll let you know where you are and where you stand” and go from there.

If you’d like to talk to Baz, you can contact him at barry.murfin@police.govt.nz or 381 2001. Baz is working on establishing a fortnightly clinic which will be held at VUWSA on the second and fourth Thursday of each month from 11.30am—1pm (hopefully from April onwards). Watch Salient for more details!

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