Com­pas­sion drove cop’s search for bodies

Central Leader - - News - By Janie Smith

When parts of Aus­tralia were rav­aged by bush­fires ear­lier this year Mt Al­bert com­mu­nity con­sta­ble Dar­ren Calkin an­swered the call for help.

Mr Calkin went to Aus­tralia twice in Fe­bru­ary and March as part of the na­tional po­lice dis­as­ter vic­tim iden­ti­fi­ca­tion team, which he joined in 2007.

On the first trip he helped with scene work at Kinglake and Marysville, two of the towns worst hit by the dis­as­ter.

He also helped set up the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion cen­tre for the dis­as­ter, where miss­ing per­son files were matched with files of the re­mains found af­ter the fires.

Af­ter leav­ing Aus­tralia Mr Calkin was called back to work at the cen­tre.

“I was a team leader so it was the pa­per­work side of it,” he says.

Al­though deal­ing with files sounds eas­ier than search­ing scenes for bodies, he says it can be worse.

“You’re deal­ing with the other side, see­ing the pho­to­graphs be­fore and af­ter and read­ing all the state­ments. Some­times it’s a lot worse.

“I’ve worked on both sides and quite of­ten this is the hard­est.”

He says get­ting the job done well and quickly so fam­i­lies can get the bodies of their loved ones back faster and get some clo­sure makes the role eas­ier for him.

“It’s all about how you look at it. If you’re do­ing it to help other peo­ple it’s a lot eas­ier to deal with.”

Al­though Mr Calkin has done a lot of vic­tim iden­ti­fi­ca­tion in New Zealand, Aus­tralia was his first over­seas de­ploy­ment and he is keen to be part of fu­ture de­ploy­ments.

Team mem­bers use fin­ger­prints, den­tal and med­i­cal records, DNA and cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence to iden­tify peo­ple.

Work­ing over­seas: Mt Al­bert com­mu­nity con­sta­ble Dar­ren Calkin iden­ti­fied Aus­tralian bush­fire vic­tims.

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