From rookie cop to Detective to Inspector and Area Commander in Counties-Manukau, Julia Lynch has spent nearly 20 years climbing the ranks of the New Zealand Police.
And it all began because of her passion for helping the community.
“It may sound like a cliché, but it’s actually true of most police officers, we just want to make a positive contribution and actually make a difference in our community.
“For me it was about helping people and giving back.”
The siren’s call
When she left school at the start of her final year, Julia didn’t quite know where she was headed.
“I recall in my final school report the principal commented on my decision to leave school early and how that might affect employment opportunities for me.”
And for a while he was right. Julia worked a variety of jobs around her home town of Turangi until she heard the call of the NZ Police at age 24.
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But the road to the top of the force is paved with hard work and challenges.
“I was stationed at Mangere police station when I started. I can’t remember if it was my first shift or second shift, but my very first arrest was for quite a serious charge – wounding.
“It was attending a fight at a caravan park and one of the people involved had grabbed a bottle, broke it, and stabbed the other person.
“I actually arrested the person, my first arrest, and did a video interview. Being fresh out of college it was quite daunting.
“I don’t think they’d be too many people where that kind of serious offence would be their first arrest. I was fortunate I had very experienced people on my section and someone that I was buddied up with as well.”
Climbing the ranks
Julia’s ascension through the ranks – including stints as Detective, Sergeant, and Inspector amongst others – is no accident. She’s worked hard to get there, studying at university to upskill and continue developing herself in her police work.
“I obtained a Bachelor of Business majoring in HR in 2005, a Post Graduate Diploma in Business and Administration in 2012, and completed a Master of Management (Management) in February this year.”
Now as Area Commander for Counties Manukau Central, the first woman to hold the position, Julia is more focussed on the strategic direction of the Force and motivating the team to come up with clever solutions to problems.
“Our national strategy is Prevention First and we’re committed to putting prevention at the front of everything we do and victims at the heart of everything we do. Staff are encouraged to be innovative and to adopt a more proactive, problem-solving way of thinking, this is a very exciting time to be a police officer.”
A different approach to policing
In the 20 years since she began he career with them, Julia has seen almost every imaginable side of life in Manukau’s diverse and vibrant community boasting more than 162 ethnicities.
“It’s the busiest policing unit and we’d be dealing with domestic family violence, intoxicated people with alcohol being a major factor in relation to a lot of incidents that we go to, vehicle crashes, and missing persons.”
“That’s the thing about police, there’s so many different types of things you’re dealing with on a day-to-day basis.”
However the way the Police approach these has evolved over the years.
“(Today there’s) a more proactive approach to what we are doing. What I mean by that is, no matter what your role is or your rank, when you’re attending an incident or dealing with something during your shift, you’re actually thinking ‘Ok what can I do to stop this person coming to our attention again? How can I help them?’”
A diverse force for a diverse community
Julia is also passionate about supporting women through a career in the Police.
“We definitely have a focus to increase the number of women that are joining the police and have some really good strategies that we’re using as an organisation to do that.”
“I am currently the Chair of the Counties Manukau District Women’s Advisory Network which has 20 members. Our purpose is to support and develop women to reach their full potential in a safe and inclusive environment that reflects the core values of the New Zealand Police.”
Julia also praises the culture of the force, saying they have never judged her based on her gender, only on her performance as a police officer.
“I can honestly say I have never experienced being treated differently in terms of being a woman. It’s about how you are as a police officer and that makes sense.”
SEE ALSO: Life on the front line