Serving the community an honour for top cop
Inspector Willie Taylor has been involved in planning the police response to some of our biggest tragedies. He tells Karina Abadia why receiving official recognition for his work means so much to him.
Serving the police and the community seems to come naturally to Inspector Willie Taylor who attended an investiture ceremony to be made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit yesterday.
The 55-year-old joined the police force soon after his 19th birthday and has never wanted to do anything else.
After training in Wellington he was posted to Auckland Central Police and still remembers his first day walking the beat on K Rd.
‘‘It was very daunting but it was great. That was how I got to learn about Auckland – walking around and talking to its characters.’’
In 1993 he was promoted to sergeant and sent to Mangere police station.
‘‘Without a doubt South Auckland is the premier place to police. It had its black days but also on the positive side it really felt like we were making a ence,’’ he says.
He later became senior sergeant at Auckland City District and officer in charge of the downtown police station which looked after the CBD as well as Waiheke and Great Barrier islands.
In 1997 he was promoted
differ- to inspector at the Northern Communications Centre in Grey Lynn but he returned to Auckland City District in 2009.
His operational planning skills have certainly been put to the test in recent years. After the first earthquake in September 2011 Mr Taylor went to Christchurch where he was in charge of a contingent of 80 Auckland police officers who patrolled the CBD at night.
No-one could have prepared for the magnitude of the event, he says.
An army gymnasium provided makeshift accommo- dation but it was less than ideal.
‘‘After a big aftershock you could see the roof beams twisting and you wondered how strong they were. I’d felt earthquakes before but not like that.’’
He went down to Christchurch again after the February earthquake and was given a strategic role.
‘‘The policing staff down there were working incredible hours without realising that they were also victims.
‘‘It became obvious that a recovery plan was required that would get Canterbury District Police back to business as usual.’’
In between the two major earthquakes he worked on the Pike River mine disaster but not all his duties have involved tragedy.
Mr Taylor is a rugby fan so being in charge of the strategic overview of policing the Rugby World Cup was a ‘‘fantastic experience’’.
These days he works as a shift commander looking after the frontline staffing resources and advising senior sergeants in Counties Manukau, Auckland City District and Waitemata.
He loves the day-to-day challenges of being a police officer and making the New Year’s honours list is the icing on the cake.
‘‘It is great recognition, not only for me and the people who work for me, but also my family who have been through a lot. There’s a sacrifice to be made and it just never ends.’’
As well as his commitment to the police, he is also receiving the award for his services to the community.
He has long been involved in rugby coaching and for the past three years has coached championship age-grade teams at Sacred Heart College.
Unexpected honour: Inspector Willie Taylor is thrilled to be a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.