Second Whakatane woman claims unfair rejection from police

6:47 am on 3 November 2016

A second Whakatane woman has come forward saying her application to join the police force has been unfairly rejected.

Andrea Lawson was turned down at the final hurdle in June over what she believes was a personal grudge held by a senior constable at the Whakatane police station.

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Andrea Lawson said she was rejected from the Whakatane police force over a personal grudge. Photo: RNZ / Supplied

Last week Helen Tulloch, also from Whakatane, said she was rejected for being too nice, knowing too many people and for being Tuhoe. Ms Tulloch's case is now being reviewed.

Ms Lawson, 42, said she had wanted to be a police officer since she was a young girl.

She first applied for the police almost six years ago, at a time when her teenage daughter got pregnant.

Ms Lawson said she moved in with her daughter to help out.

"She didn't like me telling her she couldn't go out. She wanted the freedom and she felt obviously trapped in a way I guess, so she decided to call the police.

"There was no reason for it, just in retaliation to me saying no. It was a defiance thing, I think. There was no aggression, there was no violence."

After her daughter called police a second time, a senior constable interviewed Ms Lawson.

Nothing further came of it, though he warned her the incident could affect her police application.

Soon after, she abandoned her application to focus on her granddaughter and her business, she said.

Andrea Lawson says a personal grudge was what kept her from being accepted into the police force.

Andrea Lawson said she was shocked to hear she had been rejected from the police force. Photo: Supplied

Two-and-a-half years ago she re-applied.

"I went through initial vetting, I put myself through a three-month polytechnic course with a student loan in preparation for law enforcement.

"I passed my [physical test] in 2015 and then I did my first [observation] session that was required in Tauranga station and I was highly recommended by all of the officers I was on duty with."

She was then asked to do a 'meet and greet' with staff at Whakatane Police station, where she met the same senior constable who interviewed her years earlier.

She was then told her application had been rejected and she could not re-apply.

"It was just absolutely a shock. And it was a hard pill to swallow."

Three weeks later, she said one of the other officers she had met recognised her and asked her when she was going to police college.

"I just said to him... Look mate, I'm out. One of your guys failed me.

"He turned around and said, 'No, that's not true. Because we all sat down collectively and filled out our reports ... and we all thought that you were really impressive and we gave you the thumbs up.'"

She believed the senior ranking policeman took a disliking to her and made that known, resulting in her failing, she said.

"Is it my parenting as a female? Is it the way I mothered my child? I don't know, it just doesn't seem right.

"I was very professional in my manner, I've given it 110 percent. I don't understand how I can be treated this way and just be fobbed off."

She wanted answers as to why she failed, and ultimately to get another chance to fulfil her dream.

In a statement, police said it was important they selected the right people for the job, and they used rigorous procedures to ensure that happened.

While they were unable to discuss their reasons for rejecting Ms Lawson, they were satisfied with the outcome, they said.

Of the 4000 applications police receive each year, 11 percent are successful.