If there already wasn’t something menacing about the razor-sharp angles and insectoid front view of the Honda Civic Type R, imagine that nose coming in hot and fast in your rearview, with blue and red lights flashing… that intimidating vision could now a reality, with the NSW police’s newest hot hatch recruit. Well, sort of.
As part of the NSW Police Force’s Eyewatch program, a way for local police to connect with their communities via social median (mostly through Facebook) Honda has announced a 12-month sponsored partnership and handed over the keys to a brand new 228kW beast dressed in blue.
Dressed in Police livery and complete with a personalised numberplate, the new Civic Type R recruit will not be an active police car per se (it is a six-speed manual, after all), but instead used by the force for public initiatives and promotional opportunities, like community events, school visits and everything in-between.
If this story has been shared on WhichCar social media already, no doubt someone will have not read this far down and commented, ‘What’s the point?’ or ‘Waste of taxpayer dollars!” Well, actually, there is a point, and given the car is merely on loan there's no extra cost to taxpayers. Here's why the police use these flamboyant cars:
“It is an icebreaker,” says Senior Constable Justin Hireno, one half of the EyeWatch team who gets to drive the Civic around town. “We’ve seen it first-hand how much people want to engage with it. We did a photo shoot with it at Bondi Beach and in Chinatown and you won’t believe how many people want to come up and take photos and talk about it –it’s quite staggering.”
In the past, we’ve seen Australian police forces team up with Mercedes-Benz AMG, McLaren, Porsche, BMW and more on some pretty fierce anti-cop cars, all with the aim of simply acting as a conversation starter and creating a way to normalise conversation between police and citizens.
“Our first official event for the car is a community event and it’s going to be the kind of thing where people come up to us and talk about the car, but also, that conversation can lead into something else,”
This, say the Senior Constables, could start with someone wanting to talk about the car but soon, they are discussing their community or greater concerns that they might not have normally felt comfortable vocalising in a station environment; ultimately breaking down barriers that might exist in some local areas.
Hireno’s partner, Senior Constable Jared Mildenhall agrees.
“It’s so interesting, even when we were at Bondi, we had people just come up to the car and ask if they can have a look or a photo, but then they’ll start talking about their stories, their interactions with police – and some might be positive and some might be negative – but also it allows us not to correct their negative experiences, but offer them an alternate experience that makes them feel comfortable or allows them to walk away with a positive exchange in mind.”
This, say the pair is really essential when it comes to engaging with young people – one of the reasons behind how the Eyewatch program ended up with a Civic.
“We wanted to get a sponsored vehicle to help with our duties and we thought of the Honda because as a community engagement vehicle, it is ideally suited to engaging with youth,” says Hireno, “And we are trying to engage more with younger people, talk to them and really, help keep them out of the justice system and give them good experiences with police, things like that. And this particular car, the Civic with its shape and tough looks, is ideal for that.”
The Civic Type R’s first appearance will be this weekend at the Annual Fairfield Police and Community Expo, 16th March at Emerson Reserve in Wetherill Park.
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