42 years a cop­per, but com­ing back as Santa

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By KRIS DANDO

Phew – Kapi-Mana News hasn’t lost its Santa.

Pare­mata res­i­dent Bruce Hut­ton and wife Shona are soon mov­ing to Woodville, where they will en­joy re­tire­ment on a life­style block.

How­ever, Mr Hut­ton vows to keep close ties with Porirua, through his in­ter­ests in a pho­tog­ra­phy busi­ness, play­ing Santa for a com­mu­nity group in Tawa, and hav­ing fam­ily liv­ing in the city.

It’s a re­lief, be­cause Mr Hut­ton has graced the front page of KapiMana News, in the last edi­tion be­fore Christ­mas, dressed in his pris­tine Santa out­fit, for a num­ber of years now.

He’s a heck of a sport, gladly fish­ing, play­ing beach cricket or be­ing sent way up high, all for the sake of a fes­tive photo.

The im­pe­tus for the move is Mr Hut­ton’s re­tire­ment from the po­lice force af­ter 42 years’ ser­vice – the last 20 spent in the foren­sic pho­tog­ra­phy sec­tion. Be­fore that, he was a beat cop in the city, held sole po­si­tions in Woodville and Waipuku­rau and was the first com­mu­nity po­lice­man to watch over Porirua’s city cen­tre.

His con­tri­bu­tion was recog­nised at a farewell din­ner at the po­lice col­lege on Satur­day night.

Mr Hut­ton comes from a by­gone era of polic­ing. He was taken as a cadet in 1969, trained for 19 months at Tren­tham and ini­tially based at the bar­racks in Mt Cook, Welling­ton.

‘‘I al­ways wanted to be in the po­lice, one of our neigh­bours grow­ing up was a cop and I ad­mired him a lot.’’

His first ar­rest is as clear as a bell in his mind. He had not long turned 18 and he ar­rested a man for fight­ing in Cuba St, Welling­ton. It turns out this chap reg­u­larly de­liv­ered the pies to the po­lice sta­tion and the next day the tasty savouries didn’t turn up. Oops.

We might live in mod­ern times, and there may be more pres­sure on po­lice to­day, but some things never change for a ru­ral po­lice­man, he says – that of forg­ing re­la­tion­ships and, be­ing firm but fair. He loved his time in Wairarapa, and is de­servedly im­mod­est about his im­pact in some sit­u­a­tions.

‘‘When I moved to Woodville as a young fella, there were a lot of bur­glar­ies. I went about things in my own way and in a week had 37 peo­ple pros­e­cuted, cleared most of it up. It was a time when you would have a few beers at the lo­cal and find out what was go­ing on.

‘‘I was also the bailiff there and helped clear a lot of debt to lo­cal busi­nesses by mak­ing sure the wives re­ceived the pay pack­ets in­stead of their hus­bands.’’

Mr Hut­ton en­sured, where he could, that lo­cals got the ‘‘ fair whack’’ of the jobs on of­fer, dealt with lo­cal crim­i­nals in an even­handed way – in­clud­ing en­cour­ag­ing their kids to play club rugby.

His at­ti­tude to­wards polic­ing changed in the mid-1980s, how­ever, af­ter a move to Otaki. At an out-of­con­trol party, while aid­ing an­other of­fi­cer, he had his face crushed by a man wield­ing a con­crete block. He was off work for a month.

‘‘I lost a lot of con­fi­dence to work on the street, it was a hard time for me.’’

The po­si­tion of com­mu­nity cop in Porirua be­came avail­able and he’s lived in the city since 1986. In 1992, a life­long love of pho­tog­ra­phy saw him jump at the chance to be­come a foren­sic pho­tog­ra­pher.

He says there is a ‘‘mys­tique’’ in what foren­sic pho­tog­ra­phers do, mainly due to tele­vi­sion pro­grammes like CSI, but it is not glam­orous work, he in­sists.

‘‘It’s of­ten about death and telling un­changed sto­ries. We are pre­serv­ing some­thing that has hap­pened and if you do it right, you can never at­tack the in­tegrity of a pho­to­graph.’’

He has worked a num­ber of high-pro­file cases, in­clud­ing the murder of Eu­gene and Gene Thomas. It took its toll, with the five-strong pho­tog­ra­phy unit us­ing coun­sel­lors reg­u­larly.

Last year he reached a point where he knew he had to get out, af­ter too long be­ing wit­ness to the ‘‘hor­rific’’ things peo­ple do to each other.

‘‘I worked two baby deaths in a week and de­cided ‘enough is enough, if I haven’t lost my mind by now, I’m go­ing to punch holes in a wall soon’.

‘‘You spend a lot of time with dead peo­ple and you have to have the abil­ity to struc­ture that in your brain with­out it af­fect­ing your out­look on life. It was get­ting to me and I thought it was bet­ter to leave a happy per­son.’’

Mr Hut­ton was the first po­lice pho­tog­ra­pher to be made a fel­low of the New Zealand Pho­to­graphic So­ci­ety and is a mem­ber of the Friends of the Po­lice Mu­seum and the In­ter­na­tional Po­lice As­so­ci­a­tion. He is proud to have stood along­side his fel­low of­fi­cers.

‘‘I’m com­ing away with no re­grets af­ter more than 40 years. There are great peo­ple in this job, do­ing things ev­ery day that you never see or read about in the pa­pers.’’

Re­tire­ment means more time to spend on his other pas­sion – vin­tage cars – and keep­ing his cam­era skills up to scratch, work­ing part-time as a med­i­cal pho­tog­ra­pher for MidCen­tral Health.

Old school: Bruce Hut­ton with the hel­mets he used to wear as a beat po­lice­man in Welling­ton af­ter grad­u­at­ing as a cadet in 1970. The black hel­met is for night-time and in win­ter, while the white is for the day­light hours and worn dur­ing sum­mer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.