03 April 2008
A publicity shy Hamilton Policeman who saved a young girl being swept away in the Waikato River last year was recognised for his bravery at a Police award ceremony yesterday.
On the evening of 14 July the off-duty Constable, who asked not to be named, had been walking along a bank of the Waikato River in Cambridge when he noticed the six-year-old girl had fallen into the river.
Removing most of his clothing, the officer dived into the river and was swept downstream for about 300m before managing to grab the young girl and bring her to safety.
Returning the girl to her mother the officer said to the girl; "make sure you behave for your mummy ok," then left without leaving his name.
His actions would have gone unheralded had the girl's mother not seen the officer's ID and informed Waikato Police commanders of his actions.
The mother requested anonymity in her letter but said; "the Police were always getting attacked and the public need to know that even when off duty they will still risk their lives to save someone and he didn't want any recognition for it.
"If it weren't I would not have my daughter today."
Awarding the Constable a District Commander's Commendation Superintendent Allan Boreham said the Constable's actions were in the highest traditions of the New Zealand Police.
"It shows that officers, even when off duty, were prepared to put their personal safety at risk to assist others in times of need."
Reflecting on the incident the officer said he just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
"I just did what anyone else would do," he said.
The bravery award was the highlight of Police awards ceremony held at Hamilton's Celebrating Age Centre.
It also included a certificate of Appreciation awarded to a Constable who developed a computer programme in his own time that speeds up frontline officers' paperwork, enabling a faster return back out on the streets.
Other recipients included 10 staff who received clasps for 14-years Police service, 8 officers recognised for 21-years service, 5 promotions, an NZQA national certificate and medals to 4 staff for service in East Timor.
"The range of awards demonstrates the dedication to duty of New Zealand Police officers as they go about their everyday business, often operating in what can be a very tough environment," said Mr Boreham.