Life as a policeman recalled
Former policeman Graeme Jacobsen never thought of himself when in the line of duty. reports in our series.
Retired policeman Graeme Jacobsen lives every day knowing he cannot arrest the greatest robber of his memories, Alzheimer’s.
Now it’s a struggle to recall what he had for lunch, let alone the impact he has made on peoples’ lives.
Instead his wife Kate, who regularly visits the 80-year-old at Raeburn Rest Home, recalled her husband’s contribution to the community.
She said her husband had many stories from his work as a uniformed officer, and later as a forensic photographer.
‘‘His acts of bravery, his compassion for others, his inventiveness and love for things botanical all stand out as significant contributions to the community,’’ she said.
As a serving officer, he had his fair share of experiences where he was called on to assist others in distressful situations.
One of those occasions was a cold June night in 1970 when Jacobson had to strip off his police uniform and dive into the Waikato River to rescue an elderly woman.
Less than 12 months later he was again called upon to repeat his heroics.
Later he received the Royal Humane Society’s Certificate of Commendation for his good deeds.
‘‘With no formal training in drug detection he became very good at locating cannabis,’’ Kate said.
‘‘It was discovered he had an allergy to the plant and when near it, his eyes would swell up.’’
He was also a member of the police search and rescue team and became involved in some high profile cases including the search for missing Hamilton teenager Mona Blades in 1975.
Years later he was a member of the most extensive land-based search in New Zealand for Swiss tourists, Sven Urban Ho¨glin, and his fiance´e Heidi Paakkonen, who disappeared while tramping on the Coromandel Peninsula in 1989
On a smaller scale, Jacobsen tracked and located a group of missing children in the dense bush on Maungatautari Mountain. Ironically, one of those siblings was now responsible for his day-to-day care at Raeburn.
‘‘Graeme loved diving and became a pioneer in this field for the police. Back in the sixties scuba gear wasn’t available.
‘‘Along with a couple of friends, John and Bill Gallagher, they spent some time perfecting their regulators, and I recently found out the air tanks were made from fuel tanks from old planes at Rukuhia Airport.’’
He set the horticultural world abuzz at the turn of the century after propagating a double bloom from one hydrangea which has gone onto a commercial success.
His love for the outdoors also led him to discover the elusive Coromandel striped gecko
The gecko had crawled across the wall of his Coromandel house and couldn’t recognise its species, so he captured it and turned it into the Department of Conservation for identification.
DOC recognised it as an undiscovered species naming it as the Hoplodactylus stephensi coromandel.
Graeme Jacobsen was presented with a certificate recognising his 40 years as a member of the International Police Association, a friendship organisation for retired police personnel. The certificate was presented to him at the Raeburn Rest Home in Cambridge where he lives. Pictured with him is wife Kate.
A young constable Graeme Jacobsen on the beat in Hamilton.