G uess how many jobs Tamah Alley had before she joined the police 11 years ago?
That is the question she often asks her audience when she is talking to young people about her career.
Constable Alley has been in Alexandra since 2013, after moving from Counties Manukau where she had joined the police five years earlier.
The Central Otago youth aid officer said she had 30 jobs before that.
‘‘I’ve worked in hospitality, tourism, on ski fields, in hotels, and I have worked as a security manager, a relief milker on a dairy farm, and an apprentice mechanic.”
‘‘It took a long time for me to discover policing, my true calling.
‘‘I had reached a point where I wanted a career helping people.
‘‘I decided I wanted something more community orientated and challenging.
‘‘I am quite nosy and quite bossy, so this is the ideal career for me, and in 11 years I have not looked back.’’
She is married to Matt, and they have three children.
In addition, she is a councillor for the Central Otago District Council’s Vincent Ward.
‘‘I wear two hats and they are very different, so I have to keep both roles separate.’’
She was a member of the public safety team when she first arrived in Alexandra, and was promoted to youth aid officer five years ago.
She worked with young people at both ends of the offending spectrum, from minor to serious offending.
‘‘I like it as working with young people brings all sorts of challenges and rewards . . .
Helping them become more positive and beneficial members of society is very rewarding.
‘‘As we don’t have a high volume of offending youth here, I do get to do lot of fun things in my role.
‘‘There is lots of engagement with kids on a positive level.’’
She was also involved with the Loves Me Not programme, which taught year 12 pupils about safe relationships.
Const Alley worked with Blue Light, and went on camps or trips away with young people. The Blast [Blue Light Adventure Skills and Training] programme was another project she was passionate about and helped run through Dunstan High School.
A few years ago she was walking through the crowds at the Blossom Festival in Pioneer Park with a more senior youth aid officer.
A young man who had once been an offender came up to the senior officer, introduced his wife and children, and said ‘‘Thanks very much’’ for what he had done for him years ago — the officer was ‘‘chuffed’’.
‘‘That is why I do this job,’’ Const Alley said.
‘‘To be proud of the small part that I may have had in their growth.’’