Area’s top cop signs off

Inspector Wendy Spiller, left, is handing over the reins as Counties Manukau East Police area commander to inspector Scott Gemmell. Times photo Wayne Martin

After dedicating herself for seven years to preventing the people of east Auckland from falling victim to crime, inspector Wendy Spiller is moving on.

And the man replacing her as Counties Manukau East Police area commander says he’s humbled, daunted, and excited by the challenge.

Spiller is handing over the job to inspector Scott Gemmell, the former area prevention manager for Auckland City District Police and the officer in charge of the city’s armed offenders squad.

Spiller is taking up a new role as director of the upcoming International Association of Women in Police annual conference, being hosted in Auckland in 2023.

She’s stepping down as area commander as she wants to spend more time with her father and teenage daughter.

“I approached the district commander [Superintendent Jill Rogers] to say I’ve had a fantastic tenure here, it’s time to move on and it’s an opportunity for someone else to come on,” Spiller told the Times.

“I’ve done 33 years in the police and it’s time for someone else.”

Spiller says she wants to thank the “hugely diverse and large” local community for supporting the police during her tenure.

“The growth I’ve seen in the last eight years has surpassed anything I would have imagined with new schools opening and houses being built.

“I want to thank the community for supporting us.

“Last year was a watershed for the world, not just for our patch.

“We saw amazing kindness and support and a reduction in crime and victims, which is fantastic and it continued for months.

“I asked the question of the community then and I ask it again, why can’t it be like that all the time?

“It was so positive. Other places rebounded in the crime space but we didn’t, which was fantastic.”

Spiller says the area is safer now than when she arrived in Counties Manukau East, and that’s due to a total team effort.

“It’s because of the work done by the neighbourhood policing teams, the youth aid teams, and road policing but also because of the community.

“Unless the community owns their own safety, it doesn’t matter where you live or what socio-economic patch you’re in, if you don’t own it, that will quickly become unsafe.”

Spiller says the area is “so lucky” to have Gemmell taking over from her, “with his experience, his passion, and his mana”.

Gemmell has held numerous senior and leadership roles during his 18-year police career, including in Counties Manukau’s criminal investigation branch, which solves serious and violent crime.

He’s also been in charge of operations, which saw him overseeing the police response to large protests and rallies in Auckland’s CBD, as well as the police’s canine and maritime units, and Eagle helicopter.

Gemmell says he wants his staff to be the best they can be and for every member of the local community to be prosperous and to “achieve everything they wish”.

“My values are very much aligned with our [police’s] strategy and I add into there gratitude.

“I’ve been given so much over my career and I’ve been trained and had friendships through the journey to get to where I am now.

“I see an opportunity to be able to give back to our young staff coming through.”

He says he feels “most fortunate” to have been recommended to take over from Spiller.

“Following Wendy over the last couple of weeks and seeing everything, her team, the way she’s lead the Ormiston station, the people who work here, the community and the people I’ve met over the last few days, has been awesome.

“I’m humbled when I meet people who devote their life to better outcomes for people and Wendy falls well within that category, as do many of our community leaders.

“I sit here very humbled and daunted at the task but I’m excited.”