Police Remembrance Day for first time extended to include traffic officers
DUNEDIN police officers showed their vulnerable side at a service in First Church in Dunedin yesterday.
The service — repeated throughout New Zealand and Australia yesterday — honoured police staff who have died as a result of their duties as well as serving, retired and former police staff who have died in the past 12 months.
Police Remembrance Day is held every year on September 29, the feast day of the Archangel Michael, the patron saint of police.
Packed pews in First Church fell silent as southern district commander Superintendent Paul Basham and other dignitaries were piped in.
Among those watching the formal service were friends and family of police officers who had died in the past year.
In a unusual move, Judge Michael Crosbie of Dunedin, spoke at the service.
Police played an ‘‘integral’’ role in helping some people from ending up in court, he said.
‘‘The judiciary share the privilege and burden with the police of upholding the rule of law.’’
Many officers at the service were wearing huia feather pins to represent the ultimate sacrifice made by fallen officers.
Supt Basham said while every police officer strived to protect the public, it was crucial they looked after themselves and each other in the line of duty.
It was ‘‘an absolute tragedy’’ when an officer did not return home safe, he said.
He was ‘‘delighted’’ with how the service went, saying ‘it was a proud moment for me as district commander to join my staff and stop and reflect on the sacrifice of our colleagues up and down the country over the past 100 years.’’
The service included several hymns and a waiata was perfor med by Otago Girls’ and Otago Boys’ High School pupils.
The deaths of eight traffic officers were recognised for the first time yesterday at the service at the Royal New Zealand Police College in Porirua which honoured 32 police officers and officers of the former Ministry of Transport traffic safety service, which merged with police in 1992, who died as a result of criminal acts.
The service recognised the 48 constabulary and nonconstabulary staff members who died as a direct result of performing their duties, including the eight traffic staff, formally recognised for the first time.
Remembering sacrifice . . . Southern district police commander Superintendent Paul Basham speaks during the remembrance day service held at First Church in Dunedin yesterday.