Police staff recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours
"Police staff recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours"
Brave actions by a police officer and a member of the public during an armed confrontation leading to a fatal shooting in Upper Hutt 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 and restaurant worker Mr Michael Riley the New Zealand Bravery Decoration for exceptional bravery in a situation of danger.
The awards, amongst the highest of New Zealand Bravery Honours, arise from an incident which started inside 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.
A shot was fired into the ceiling, and further demands made, before Mr Smiler went out onto crowded lunchtime streets. There he fired twice again, narrowly missing officers responding to the scene, and putting the public and police at further risk.
Officer S and other officers repeatedly asked Mr Smiler to drop his firearm and surrender but the situation escalated further when Mr Smiler pointed his weapon at police.
He was shot and, despite immediate attention, died at the scene.
The IPCA investigation found that the shooting was justified, and that the Police response to the incident was immediate and effective.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush praised the bravery and professionalism of police officers at the scene to protect the public, 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.
“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.
“This was a fast moving, dangerous situation to which Mr Riley, Officer S and other police responded to prevent further escalation and to keep people safe.”
Officer S is one of six members of New Zealand Police 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 their external interests including international level sports, demonstrates the strengths and diversity within New Zealand Police.
“We strive to be a high-performing police who are actively working with and part of our community. It’s very rewarding to see the energy, service and contribution our people are making is recognised, including in areas such as family violence, diversity and dog section.
“All the honours, including recognition for two of our officers who are high-profile international rugby and rugby league sports women, are warmly welcomed.”
The Police recipients (with
details from their Citations) are:
• Officer S – NZBM (New Zealand Bravery Medal) for an act of bravery.
Officer S was among the first officers on the scene on 8 September 2015 after a man with a rifle opened fire in the McDonald’s restaurant on Main and Wakefield Streets, Upper Hutt, during a busy lunchtime. As Officer S and another officer approached the restaurant, the gunman shot at them from the restaurant entrance.
They dropped to the ground then moved forward behind the cover of a truck, and saw the gunman leave the restaurant.
Officer S challenged him to drop the rifle and surrender but the gunman responded by repeatedly challenging Officer S to shoot him.
Two other officers challenged the gunman and released a police dog.
The gunman turned and raised his rifle at the officers and Officer S, perceiving an immediate risk, fired, hitting the gunman, who died at the scene despite receiving immediate first aid.
Police Officer S demonstrated bravery in engaging an unpredictable armed offender to attempt a peaceful resolution, having already been shot at, and acted swiftly to prevent harm to his fellow officers.
• Mr Michael Scott RILEY - NZBD (New Zealand Bravery Decoration) for an act of exceptional bravery in a situation of danger.
Civilian nominated by Police.
Mr Riley, a staff member, was in the office of McDonald’s on Main and Wakefield Streets, Upper Hutt, on 8 September 2015 when he learned a man was at the counter with a rifle.
He went to the counter, where the gunman pointed the rifle at him and demanded that everyone leave, firing a shot into the ceiling.
Mr Riley asked if he could direct customers and staff out, and after doing so returned to check the toilets.
The gunman told him to hurry or he would shoot him.
As Mr Riley then went to leave, the gunman demanded a burger, then changed his mind.
As Mr Riley left he heard the gunman shoot at Police.
He told staff to stay behind cars in the car park and directed three women in a nearby car to also take cover.
He used a road cone to close the driveway before joining his colleagues sheltering until Police resolved the incident.
He remained calm and demonstrated exceptional bravery by engaging with the unpredictable gunman to ensure the safety of customers and staff.
• Ms Jude Simpson, MNZM (Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit) for services to the prevention of domestic violence.
Ms Simpson is a family harm training advisor at the Royal New Zealand Police College.
Prior to this she has drawn on her own personal experience of abuse, publishing a book ‘Lost and Found: A Woman’s Living Proof’; has facilitated family violence workshops across New Zealand for the public sector and other organisations; is closely involved with “It’s Not OK” campaign and is a respected family violence prevention advocate.
• Inspector Tracy Phillips, MNZM (Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit) for services to the New Zealand Police and the community.
Inspector Phillips, Senior Professional Conduct Manager, based in Tamaki Makaurau, has delivered a range of projects beyond the scope of her assigned roles. She’s a strong advocate in supporting 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. Inspector Phillips 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.
• Senior Constable Phillip Taylor, MNZM (Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit) for services to the New Zealand Police and the community.
Senior Constable Phillips is a narcotics detector dog handler based in Rotorua. A police officer since 1972, he’s been a dog handler since 1996 and his specialist skills have contributed to numerous successful drug operations in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato. He’s 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 Australia two years ago. Senior Constable Taylor is also actively involved in a voluntary capacity with the Rotorua Pistol Club. His expertise in range safety and security ensures events around the country are run to international standards.
• Detective Constable Fiao’o Faamausili, ONZM (Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit) for services to rugby.
Detective Constable Faamausili works with Counties Manukau CIB and joined police in 2010. Her citation is for her role with rugby, reflecting her captaincy of the Black Ferns since 2012. She is the most capped Black Ferns at 52 caps, has represented New Zealand at each of the five Rugby Women’s World Cup tournaments since 2002.
The Black Ferns were also recognised as the World Rugby’s 2017 team of the year, as well as team of the year at the 2017 New Zealand Rugby awards.
• Constable Laura Mariu, MNZM (Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit) for services to rugby league.
Constable Mariu, who graduated from the Royal NZ Police College in May this year, works in Counties Manukau. She has represented New Zealand in karate, softball, touch rugby, tag football and rugby league.
She debuted as a Kiwi Fern at 19 and has since represented New Zealand in all five Women’s Rugby League World Cups since its inception 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. In addition to playing at national and international level, she also coaches a school girls’ rugby league team.
Reactions from NZ Police recipients to Honours List announcements:
Officer S – New Zealand
(Please note that the officer’s identity is protected).
Officer S says the circumstances of what took place in Upper Hutt make this New Zealand Bravery Medal a very special one.
“When I responded to the incident my focus was on keeping the community safe. That was the priority for all of us that day.
“My main concern was ensuring the immediate area was cleared of civilians as quickly and safely as possible, as we worked to prevent the situation from escalating given that shots had been fired.
“What unfolded was not the ending anyone would wish for but the lives of my colleagues were at immediate risk.”
Senior Constable Phillip Taylor
MNZM, Bay of Plenty District
Senior Constable Taylor, known as ‘Tiny’ to many people both in and outside Police, says he’s both “embarrassed and surprised” by the award.
“There’s a lot of good people out there who do so much in police and in Rotorua,” he says. “I love my work as a dog handler and the opportunities it has brought.”
The veteran dog handler who joined police in 1972 as a member of the Ted Hotham Cadet Wing has spent most of his career in the Bay of Plenty. He’s had five operational police dogs and has won national police detector dog titles twice with previous dog Kaos. He has been a nationals finalist three times with current narcotic detector dog Murphy.
In 2016 Senior Constable Taylor and Murphy represented New Zealand Police as part of the victorious team of three New Zealand Police dog section handlers and dogs in a trans Tasman competition.
Inspector Tracy Phillips MNZM, PNHQ,
Tamaki Makaurau based
Inspector Tracy Phillips, the Senior Police Conduct Manager based in Tamaki Makaurau, says she’s “shocked and humbled” by the award.
“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.” She’s proud of her work to strengthen engagement with the Rainbow community, building trust and confidence between police and the sector.
“Diversity is one of our core Police values and this includes the Rainbow community who traditionally have not always been comfortable in approaching police.
I’m just one of the team who, working in a leadership role, can help make a difference.
I’m just getting started.”
Jude Simpson MNZM, Royal New Zealand Police College
Ms Jude Simpson says she was “overwhelmed” to learn of the award, and humbled by those who considered her achievements deserved it.
“Family violence is often talked about and while many changes have been made to make a difference, there’s still a lot of work to do in reducing and preventing the level of family harm in this country.
“I never imagined that my personal experiences of family violence would lead me into becoming a family violence advocate, writing a book, running workshops, becoming involved with the It’s Not OK campaign and see me working as a family violence advocate across the sector. I certainly never imagined I’d get an award for it.”
Ms Simpson had been sharing her knowledge and experiences with a range of police training courses for several years after working in a prevention role with Presbyterian Support Northern and other agencies in the family violence prevention space. She became a fulltime employee with police in October 2014 and works at the Royal New Zealand Police College as a training advisor in family harm. Ms Simpson has been instrumental in developing new family harm and prevention training for police recruits.
“Preventing and reducing the level of hurt caused through family harm requires the involvement of everyone,” she says. “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.”
Detective Constable Fiao’o
Faamausili ONZM, Counties Manukau
Juggling policing with national and international rugby is all in a day’s work for Detective Constable Fiao’o Faamausili.
The most capped Black Fern and captain since 2012 says she didn’t know how to react when advised of a Royal Honour.
Winning four out of five World Rugby titles, World Rugby and New Zealand Rugby team awards last year were amazing she says, but this latest honour had to take some thinking about. I owe this honour to my team mates and family. If it wasn’t for them then this moment would not have been possible.
“I decided 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.”
She admits the last two years have been a bit of a juggle and required hard work as she balanced international rugby commitments with working as well as studying and completing modules for her fledgling CIB career.
“It’s been an intense time but I’m doing it. Outside of rugby my next big goal is to get my gold badge and become a qualified detective.”
Constable Laura Mariu MNZM, Counties
It’s been a big 12 months for Kiwi Fern captain Constable Laura Mariu combining international rugby league success with graduating in May from the Royal New Zealand Police College.
Three weeks into her new policing career in Counties Manukau, Constable Mariu says the MNZM is a huge honour, and one she is very humbled to receive.
“I never expected anything like this. It was huge enough to represent my country in rugby league and win international titles.” She’s played for New Zealand in five Women’s Rugby League World Cups, and was appointed captain last year. The Kiwi Ferns won titles in 2000, 2003 and 2008 and were runners-up last year. Constable Mariu says sport has always been a big part of her life, and paid tribute to the teams she has been involved with, as well as her family.
She’ll be spending Queen’s Birthday Weekend playing in the league nationals in Auckland.