Naila Hassan appointed as district commander

Naila Hassan appointed as district commander

Naila Hassan appointed as district commander for Waitamata could possible be a dangerous only for law abiding public. It was Islamic police that stopped thousands of police investigations in the UK that led to the rape and suicides of almost a million British teens, as documented in the book Easy Meat. Coming form the UK herself, and with awards from the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, either Islamic criminal details will never get through to the media or crimes committed by Muslims simply will not be investigated by Naila Hassan appointed as district commander. This knowledge that one of the own is leader can only give them boldness.

This from

The door Superintendent Naila Hassan gestures to is propped open. It’s not enough.

“I want to put a chock under that door that is so big, no-one can ever close it.

“All they can do is push it wider and wider until it’s off its hinges and never closes.”

The Waitemata district commander isn’t planning on committing criminal damage to her office – that’s just how passionate she is about getting women into policing.

In her bright corner office at Henderson Police Station – an “icebox” first thing, boiling by afternoon, she says, as she pulls the blinds over the post-lunch glare – she’s doing all she can to diversify the force.

That means pulling an extra seat up at the table for someone who’s going to think differently when her leadership group is too homogenous.

It’s not just gender. Hassan wants that door to be open wide enough for all races, sexualities, ages, and academic and professional backgrounds to walk through.

The 51-year-old knows what it is to be the odd one out.

Aged 20, she joined the police, the only woman in her section. On top of that were other differences: “I was Pakistani, I was an immigrant, an extreme introvert.

“For years and years, I just wanted to fit in and be like the next person beside me that wore the same uniform.”

That meant keeping quiet about being Muslim for more than two decades. It wasn’t until a Stuff interview in 2018 that Hassan talked publicly about her religion, after reaching a turning point. “I suddenly thought, this is me. This is authentic Naila. This is the person I am at home, so I want to bring that to work.”

But it was a painful process. A story that was going to be about her work in the Muslim community ended up being the “coming out” of her faith. “That kind of broke my heart,” she says.

That’s Hassan. She doesn’t want anything to be about her – it’s about the police. Or the Muslim community. Or women.

Hassan has leapfrogged through scores of roles within the police, spending time on the frontline, criminal investigations, prosecution. But one of the dreams she never pursued was dog handling – because of how it might reflect on women.

She always wanted to be a police officer. She was born in London, and her British mother and Pakistani father moved the family to New Zealand when she was five.

It “couldn’t have been easy” for two immigrant parents raising four kids in the Auckland suburb of Mt Roskill. But while the family were “far from rich”, they never lacked anything.

After a stint as a lifeguard out of school, the same desire to rescue people propelled her into policing.

She cut her teeth on the front line and then became the first female physical training instructor. From there, she became a detective and then moved into prosecution.

Itching to get back on the front line, she did that for a stint in 2012 before spiralling up the ladder of promotions: deployment manager, youth and communities manager, area commander in Waikato, and then to Counties Manukau.

In December 2018, she took promotion to district commander in Waitemata, where she manages a team of 950.

“Since then? Oh my God – it’s kind of when did I start, and when do I catch a breath?”

March 15. White Island. Covid-19. Constable Matthew Hunt’s death. None of these are challenges Hassan wanted to face as a leader.

Back in her office, there’s an award on the windowsill from the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation, presented for her contribution to the world’s Muslim community following the Christchurch mosque attacks.

Hassan is one of only three women to receive it – “I still pinch myself”.

It’s just one of the things you could list in her proudest achievements. Her three degrees are another. But for all of the big wins, it’s the small moments of courage that Hassan is most proud of.

Speaking about her faith was one. Standing up to bullying is another.

It was almost a decade ago that Hassan was bullied. The culture of policing has come a long way since then, she’s quick to add.

She’s light on the details of what happened; suffice to say it was “unjust” behaviour, superiors pulling rank.

The “old boys’ network” swooped in when she was trying to hold someone below her to account for how badly he was treating people. She ended up being on the receiving end of bullying from her superiors.

It took her walking out the door before things changed.

Ready to throw in the towel, she took the problem to the top, to then-police commissioner Peter Marshall.

“I thought my career was over because I stood up to it. But it was everything but.”

The support from everyone from the commissioner to HR was incredible, she says. That’s testament to how police culture is evolving: “If I’d done that five or 10 years before that, I would have been ostracised and seen as being a troublemaker.”

Hassan is a big fan of current commissioner Andrew Coster. The Black Lives Matter movement isn’t something she’ll take a public stance on, but she will throw her weight behind how he responded to the iwi checkpoints during lockdown.

While the checkpoints were controversial, Coster made the call to work with iwi in their efforts to protect their communities. Hassan calls it a “courageous” move, which helped preserve relationships with iwi that had been decades in the making. Without that, the Black Lives Matter protests might have been nastier than they were.

“If we had arrested people at checkpoints and roadblocks, we would have had protests right across the country, we would have had iwi – rightly – very angry with us.”

As with her proudest achievements, the biggest challenge Hassan has faced isn’t necessarily what you’d expect.

The death of Matthew Hunt is up there. An officer shot and killed on duty sent shock waves through the force; it will be a long time before people come to terms with it, she says.

But there’s another challenge that has spanned her career. “Balancing the desire to help everyone and enabling other people to do that” is how she puts it.

Working with the Muslim community in Counties Manukau, that meant morphing Muslim leaders’ trust of “Naila Hassan the Muslim police officer” into trust of the police.

That’s it, always – not about Hassan, but about the police.

“Don’t trust Naila, trust the organisation.”