Gaylene loves the fact that being a police officer allows her to work in so many different areas of the force – boredom is never a problem as every day is different.
“I have worked on the front line – responding to emergency calls for service; I’ve worked in road policing – attending crashes and preventing road trauma, and I’ve worked in communities to prevent crime and rebuild the sense of community.
“I have also been a youth education officer and have gone into schools to work with youth; I have been a prosecutor in the courts and I am now on a national technology project rolling out new desktops,” she says.
Right from an early age, Auckland-born Gaylene wanted to become a policewoman.
“When I was in primary school a local police officer came and spoke to the assembly on their role in society and I thought it sounded really cool. From that point onwards I knew that I was going to become a police officer myself.”
After completing school, Gaylene spent around 10 years in the work force before eventually joining the police.
“I visited recruiting on my 18th birthday to start the joining process but back then it was extremely hard for females to join the force (not like it is now) so it was a difficult process, but one that I’m very glad I stuck to.”
While the theory side of Police College was demanding, Gaylene found the fitness aspect particularly challenging, but perseverance and focus got her over the line in the end.
“On the testing day you sit all the written requirements first; once these are completed you then sit the physical side, which comprised a run, press-ups, a jump test and a grip test.
“As I was completing the run and I was nearing the end, I was passing people who had stopped and given up and were sitting on the side of the road. That made me all the more determined to keep going.”
Every police officer should have certain fundamental characteristics to help them succeed in their career, Gaylene believes.
Being outgoing is a useful trait to have, she says, as well as being tolerant.
“You can at times see and deal with people who are at their worst. So having common sense and good interpersonal skills, plus being a team player, are all traits that will serve you well in the force.”
One fact that is sure to catch the attention of many aspiring police officers, is that the New Zealand Police offer one of the highest starting salaries of any profession, with Police College graduates earning a starting salary of more than $52,000.
On top of her already impressive resumé, Gaylene is working towards a degree in management through Otago Polytech, having already completed some papers at Auckland and Massey Universities. In the meantime, Gaylene does not see herself leaving the force any time soon.
“I love my job so am quite content to just keep on doing what I am doing at least for the next 10 years and by then I could be close to retiring.
“Helping people and working with communities to develop a cohesive problem-solving partnership is really rewarding and is something that I am very proud to have made a career out of.”