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Ceremony marks double tragedies that sparked life-saving cha

Ceremony marks double tragedies that sparked life-saving changes

Police today honoured four officers and a civilian whose deaths at the hands of lone gunmen were the catalyst for sweeping changes to Police tactics that have saved countless other lives.

A ceremony at the Royal New Zealand Police College this afternoon marked the 50th anniversary of the double homicides of Detective Inspector Wallace Chalmers and Detective Sergeant Neville Power at Waitakere on 6 January 1963, and those of Constable Bryan Schultz and Constable James Richardson at Lower Hutt less than a month later on 3 February.

Civilians James Berry, who was also killed during the Waitakere incident, and Harry Pettit, who was seriously wounded, were also remembered.

“Today’s service is important because it marks the brave sacrifice made by all these men who were trying to help others and keep their communities safe,” says Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard. “While their loss is still keenly felt, their deaths led to significant changes in how Police respond to armed incidents, which ultimately led to the formation of the AOS and unquestionably the saving of many other lives.”

Attendees included Police Minister Hon. Anne Tolley, as well three of the men’s widows, their descendants, retired Police staff, current staff, MPs, local mayors and members of the Police Executive. Local commemorations have also been held in Waitakere and Lower Hutt.

Officers Chalmers and Power died after being shot by a lone gunman while responding to an incident at boarding kennels in Bethells Road, Waitakere, while Mr Berry was killed by the same offender after helping a badly injured Mr Pettit and others to safety. Just a few weeks later, Constables Schultz and Richardson were shot dead by an armed offender at a domestic incident in Lower Hutt.

Former AOS commander and member, Detective Superintendent Ray van Beynen, says both events sparked a wide-ranging review of Police tactics relating to armed offenders – resulting in a recommendation that New Zealand Police form a specialist squad to respond to armed incidents. In August 1964, the AOS was formed.

“These men did not give their lives in vain. The armed response units set up after their deaths have been extremely successful, so much so that we’ve never lost a squad member during an AOS operation – and I have no doubt that countless other lives have been saved because of their intervention.”

ENDS

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