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Fallen officers commemorated at Police Remembrance Day

Fallen officers commemorated at Police Remembrance Day tomorrow

Police Remembrance Day will take on added significance this year as three more officers who were killed as a result of criminal actions are formally recognised for the first time.

Police Remembrance Day is held every year on 29 September, which is the feast day of the Archangel Michael, patron saint of police.

This year the 32 officers slain on duty and 40 officers and employees who have died as result of duty since 1886 will be remembered, along with serving and former constabulary staff and employees who have died in the past year.

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Dame Patsy Reddy, Governor-General of New Zealand will attend the National Remembrance Day Ceremony at Royal New Zealand Police College (RNZPC), her first official engagement as Governor-General.

Commissioner of Police Mike Bush, the Police Executive, and members of the Diplomatic Corps will also join Police staff, family and friends in paying tribute to the fallen officers.

Plaques commemorating the three past slain officers, Constables James Butler, Louis Hekenui Bidois and Detective Constable Ronald Hill, have been added to the Memorial Wall at the RNZPC.

(Officer bios below this release)

“These staff members have been identified through the ongoing Recognition Project, which was set up three years ago to ensure that we properly acknowledge those who have given their lives in the course of their work,” says Police Commissioner Mike Bush.

Last year the project led to recognition at Remembrance Day of 38 staff members who died through accident or illness arising from their work, alongside the 29 officers killed as a result of a criminal act, who we recognise every year.

“We needed to find a way to honour those who lost their lives in crashes, accidents, explosions, by drowning or from illnesses contracted while carrying out their Police duties.

Their contribution is part of our history and they need to be formally recognised,” says Mr Bush.

This year the Recognition Project has also identified two more officers who died performing their duty: Constable Cecil Orr (who was hit by a train in Auckland, 1942); and Peter Hart (who died in a car crash in Napier, 1974).

Three slain Traffic Officers - John Kehoe, Barry Gibson and Robin Dudding - now also have individual plaques on the Memorial Wall.

Previously they were listed to one side on a joint memorial.

“Police has employed many thousands of people in our 130-year history.

Identifying those who died as a result of their duties is a big task and despite our best efforts there may be people who have been inadvertently missed or whose families believe should be included but aren’t on the current list.

“Being able to pay formal tribute to the additional staff this year is another step in the continuing process of the Recognition Project.

We’re very willing to consider further information that becomes available and include anyone who meets the criteria,” says Mr Bush.

Research to date has established that 40 employees have so far met the criteria, which are that the person must have been a Police employee and have died as a direct result of injuries sustained or illness or disease contracted in the course of their Police duties.

The first person to die as a result of duty was Senior Constable Henry Porter, who was aged 41 when he accidentally drowned while doing his night rounds in Port Chalmers on 21 June 1887.

Other deaths include the crew of the Eagle helicopter, who were killed when it collided with a fixed wing aircraft over Auckland on 26 November 1993, and a member of the Christchurch Child Protection Unit who died when the CTV building collapsed in the 2011 Canterbury earthquake.

Remembrance Day services honour Police colleagues in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific who have been killed on duty or died in service in the preceding year.

Former staff members who have died in the past 12 months are also remembered.

The RNZPC service will be live streamed on the NZ Police website starting at 11am on Thursday at http://www.police.govt.nz/remembranceday

The full list of the 40 people so far identified as having died as a result of their Police duties is on the Police website: www.police.govt.nz

Backgrounds of the three slain officers added to the wall this year:
Constable James Butler was 29 when he died on 2 January 1938 after being assaulted at Dunedin Police Station.
Constable Butler, whose father John was also a Constable, had been in Police for five years.

On Christmas Day 1937 a violent, drunken prisoner broke free while being taken to the cells and attacked him, kicking him several times.
He died in hospital eight days later from a pulmonary embolism, the attack having dislodged a pre-existing blood clot which moved to his lung.
Seventy Police colleagues escorted the coffin from Dunedin Hospital to the Central Police Station.

It was put on a train, attended by a Sergeant, for the long journey to the family’s home town Waipukurau, Hawke’s Bay.

There he was buried alongside his father.

Constable Louis Hekenui Bidois - known as Heke - died in 1955 from an injury sustained in an assault at Te Whaiti, Bay of Plenty, six years earlier.

He was 56, married with three sons and had served in Police for 14 years.
He was persuaded to join Police after helping the local Constable in matters relating to Māori.

He became district Constable for the remote Te Whaiti district in 1936.
On 7 May 1949, Constable Bidois was hit with a bottle while arresting two drunks at a dance.

He never fully recovered, taking permanent sick leave then retiring in 1953.

He died on 24 May 1955.

His death certificate cites death due to brain injury.
In 1949 the offenders were jailed for three months for the assault.

Detective Constable Ronald Bernard Hill, known as Bernie, was killed in a car crash on 25 May 1969.

He was 22 and had been in Police three years, recently joining Palmerston North CIB.

He had swapped shifts to free him up for his wife’s 21st birthday the next weekend.

He had arrested a burglar in Shannon and was a passenger in the police car driving a witness home when a car crossed the centre line and hit them head-on.

Bernie died instantly.
The other driver was disqualified and had been drinking and the car had no warrant of fitness or registration.

The driver died so there was no prosecution.
There was a large Police presence including a guard of honour at Bernie’s funeral at All Saints Church, Palmerston North.

The full bios of these three officers are available on request to bridget.hayman@police.govt.nz

Remembrance Day Background:
Police Remembrance Day is held every year on 29 September, which is the feast day of the Archangel Michael, patron saint of police.
It is marked by Police in New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Solomon Islands.
This year the 32 officers slain on duty and 40 officers and employees who have died as result of duty since 1886 will be remembered, along with our serving and former constabulary staff and employees who have died in the past year.

The Police Remembrance Day Huia Pin:
The Police Remembrance Day Pin was developed by New Zealand Police and the Police Association.
Now lost to us, the Huia bird's tail plumage is something rare and special.
To wear it is considered by Maori to be a great honour.
By incorporating the Police chevron into the Huia tail feather, the design of the pin symbolises the honouring of someone special, now lost to the Police.
Police staff throughout New Zealand take part in Remembrance Day by wearing the pin to honour the memory of those police officers slain while carrying out their police duties.
Any donations towards the pin will go to the Police Families Charitable Trust for the families of New Zealand police officers who have been slain while carrying out their police duties.
Huia e! Huia tangata kotahi.
He totara kua hinga.
The feather of the huia, for someone special.
One dearly departed.

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