Hill says good­bye but he will be back

South Waikato News - - NEWS / HE PU¯RONGORONGO - By CAITLIN WAL­LACE

.

There’s been plenty of highs and lows af­ter 14 years as a po­lice of­fi­cer in Toko­roa, but Graeme Hill has fi­nally moved onto a new role.

The for­mer se­nior sergeant has moved on from Toko­roa to be­come the Bay of Plenty vic­tims’ manager.

He’s been a prom­i­nent part of the com­mu­nity for more than a decade but search­ing through the South Waikato News ar­chives, it seems he has man­aged to avoid the cam­era in that time.

De­spite that, in the five years he served as se­nior sergeant, Hill’s al­ways had his door open to the com­mu­nity.

That was be­cause he wanted to change per­cep­tions of the town’s po­lice force.

‘‘From the out­set, when I took on this role, I made it an open door pol­icy.’’

The thoughts of the com­mu­nity re­ally mat­tered to him.

When peo­ple took to so­cial me­dia to bad-mouth po­lice ef­forts, it wasn’t easy to see.

‘‘It irks me a lot to see things on so­cial me­dia be­cause I take it per­son­ally.’’

It just showed Hill wasn’t one to hide his feel­ings and thoughts away, es­pe­cially in the hard times.

One he will al­ways re­mem­ber was the Lois Dear homi­cide in 2006.

He de­scribed it as one of the ‘‘sad­dest’’ days dur­ing his time in the Toko­roa po­lice.

‘‘For me, that ap­peared to be a sense­less crime, that seemed to strike chords with the com­mu­nity.’’

The work that went into that case was ‘‘ mas­sive’’, he said, and it cre­ated an un­de­served stigma for the town.

Through it all, Hill be­lieved the re­la­tion­ship with most res­i­dents stands strong to this day.

Toko­roa is one the luck­i­est com­mu­ni­ties to have po­lice in­ter­act with them as much as they do, he said.

‘‘The guys are will­ing to get out more and do their bit.’’

In­clud­ing the newly de­vel­oped pro­gramme CAC­TUS which be­gun at For­est View High School two years ago.

‘‘That’s been awe­some, it put our re­la­tion­ship with youth and po­lice at the fore­front.’’

One of the pin­na­cle mo­ments for Hill was the day Toko­roa put its foot down on tag­ging.

It’s a good­bye to Hill as the town’s se­nior sergeant but for­tu­nately with his new role, he’ll be back.

Af­ter 14 years with the Toko­roa Po­lice, Graeme Hill is mov­ing on to new chal­lenges.

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