Monday, 4 June 2018 - 1:14pm

Royal honours for Police people

5 min read

News article photos (1 items)

QB 2

The bravery of a police officer and a member of the public during an armed confrontation have been recognised with New Zealand Bravery awards announced today.

Officer S, whose identity is protected, receives the New Zealand Bravery Medal (NZBM) for bravery. Restaurant worker Michael Riley receives the New Zealand Bravery Decoration (NZBD) for exceptional bravery in a situation of danger.

The officer is one of six New Zealand Police staff whose professionalism, actions and service across a broad range of policing, prevention and sporting endeavours are reflected in the Queen’s Birthday and New Zealand Bravery Honours.

Commissioner Bush said the range of honours to Police staff, some initiated through external interests including international level sports, demonstrates the strengths and diversity within the organisation.

“We strive to be a high-performing police who are actively working with and part of our community," says Commissioner Bush. "It’s very rewarding to see that the energy, service and the contribution our people are making is recognised.”

The bravery awards, among the highest of New Zealand Bravery Honours, arise from an incident at McDonald’s, Upper Hutt, at lunchtime on 8 September 2015 when gunman Pera Smiler pointed a rifle at Mr Riley, demanding everyone leave the restaurant.

Mr Riley engaged with the gunman and escorted staff and customers to safety.

Despite being shot at, Officer S tried to talk Mr Smiler into surrendering, but Mr Smiler pointed his rifle toward other officers and was shot and fatally wounded.

“When I responded to the incident my focus was on keeping the community safe,” says Officer S. “That was the priority for all of us that day.”

Mr Riley says he just wanted to get home to his family. “At the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror and tell myself that I did everything I could to get people safely out of the restaurant.”

Police Commissioner Mike Bush praised the bravery and professionalism of police at the scene, and the extraordinary bravery of Mr Riley in making sure restaurant customers were safely evacuated.

“This was a traumatic event for the many members of the public who were present, and also for police officers and Mr Smiler’s family,” says Commissioner Bush.

“Using lethal force is a last option, but the bravery shown by many police that day, in particular Officer S and Mr Riley, was exceptional.”

Also honoured - as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) or Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) - are:

Ms Jude Simpson,  MNZM

For services to the prevention of domestic violence

Jude is a family harm training advisor at The Royal New Zealand Police College. She drew on her own experience of abuse in the book Lost and Found: A Woman’s Living Proof; has facilitated family violence workshops for the public sector and other organisations; is closely involved with “It’s not OK” campaign and is a respected family violence prevention advocate.

She says: “Preventing and reducing the level of hurt caused through family harm requires the involvement of everyone. To get real success organisations need to work together to understand the causes of family harm, victims and the perpetrators. My role is far from over.”

Inspector Tracy Phillips, MNZM

For services to New Zealand Police and the community

Tracy, Senior Professional Conduct Manager, based in Tāmaki Makaurau, is a strong advocate for diversity within Police, particularly with the Rainbow Community.

This has included support for diversity-friendly policies within Police and an operational diversity liaison officer network. Tracy initiated the Paint the Cells project at the Counties Manukau District custodial hub, enlisting artists from the community to brighten the cells for those spending time in the unit.

She says: “It’s pretty special but I’m part of a wider team who really share this award. I’m a firm believer that if you’re positive, look for opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives and treat people right, then good things can happen.”

Senior Constable Phillip Taylor, MNZM

For services to New Zealand Police and the community

Phillip – known as Tiny - is a narcotics detector dog handler based in Rotorua. His specialist skills have contributed to numerous successful drug operations in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato. He has also played a key role in developing a new harness for detector dogs, has won national police dog championships and was part of the successful NZ Police team in trans-Tasman police dog championships in Australia two years ago.

He says: “There’s a lot of good people out there who do so much in Police and in Rotorua. I love my work as a dog handler and the opportunities it has brought.”

Detective Constable Fiao’o Faamausili, ONZM

For services to rugby

Fi works with Counties Manukau CIB and joined Police in 2010. She became captain of the Black Ferns international women’s rugby team in 2012 and has represented New Zealand at each of the five Rugby Women’s World Cup tournaments since 2002. After winning the World Cup in 2017, the Black Ferns were recognised as team of the year by both World Rugby and New Zealand Rugby.

She says: “It’s not about me, it’s about the team, and about encouraging people into sport. I’m blessed to be doing what I do, both on the rugby field and in police.”

Constable Laura Mariu, MNZM

For services to rugby league

Laura, who graduated from the Royal New Zealand Police College last month, works in Counties Manukau.

She has represented New Zealand in karate, softball, touch rugby, tag football and rugby league. She debuted in the Kiwi Ferns international rugby league team at 19 and has since represented New Zealand in all five Women’s Rugby League World Cups, which started in 2000. She was captain for the 2017 World Cup squad which finished runners-up, and been a member of three winning World Cup teams. She also coaches a school girls’ rugby league team.

She says: “I never expected anything like this. It was huge enough to represent my country in rugby league.”

Also honoured was...

Bill O’Brien, MNZM

For services to Victim Support and the prevention of domestic violence

Bill O'BrienAfter a 35-year career in Police, Bill has been manager and a trustee of the Sophie Elliott Foundation for six years.

The foundation was established in 2010 after Sophie's murder by her ex-boyfriend with the aim of shifting attitudes towards violence in relationships and facilitating prevention education. It helps young people foster healthy relationships through its Loves-Me-Not programmes in schools.

Bill co-authored the book Loves Me Not – How to Keep Relationships Safe with the Foundation’s founder Lesley Elliott, Sophie's mother, and supported her in the writing of her book Sophie’s Legacy. He has donated all of his royalties from both books to the Foundation.

In Police he drove the successful implementation of the Keeping Ourselves Safe programme, which has run in primary schools for 30 years. Bill helped establish and chair Victim Support Dunedin and was a founder member of the New Zealand Council for Victim Support Groups.