Life as a po­lice­man re­called

For­mer po­lice­man Graeme Ja­cob­sen never thought of him­self when in the line of duty. re­ports in our se­ries.

Cambridge Edition - - CONVERSATIONS -

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.

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