Our local heroes
Detective Roger Whale says he’s humbled to be named a Kiwibank local hero, and although he knows it’s a cliche´, he was just doing his job.
He’s also quick to add that he’s only one of a number of Taupo¯’s police officers who went into policing because they care deeply about helping other people.
“Every cop in New Zealand joins the organisation to help someone so this isn’t just about me, it’s about them, the victims and the offenders alike who we have helped in some way. It’s about making a difference in someone’s life.”
Roger has been in the police for 13 years and is currently a member of the Child Protection Team where he predominantly deals with child abuse cases, whether physical, sexual or neglect.
He was nominated for his award by a former abuse victim who he worked with for nearly five years. The person wrote to Taupo¯ Area Commander Inspector Warwick Morehu praising Roger for always showing their family empathy, respect and dignity throughout the entire investigation and subsequent court case.
The letter said the compassion Roger had shown helped the person through depression, anxiety and suicide attempts.
“Whether it was work or family life, he still chose to help me through some pretty dark times. I can’t thank him enough for all the times he had helped me.
“Without the support of Detective Whale I would still be the person I was a few years ago. Detective Whale is truly a real life superhero. No one could ever replace him.”
Roger says in his job, he doesn’t mind if people ring him if they need somebody to talk to.
“If a person has the trust and confidence to call me before they do something to hurt themselves or another person then so be it. I think it would be fair to say all cops would think the same way but just in this case it’s been recognised.”
In his line of work, investigations can take some time and Roger says victims and their families who have never been through the police and judicial process often don’t realise this at first so investigators have to be kind, empathetic and caring.
Originally an engineer by trade, Roger became a police officer after becoming involved with Land Search and Rescue. Through that he met Taupo¯ Senior Constable Barry Shepherd.
“While I was working with Shep I became interested in what he did as a police officer and his role as the search and rescue coordinator so I said to him one day ‘do you think I’d make a good cop?’ and in the only way Barry can, he replied ‘yes, I suppose you would, why?’ and I replied ‘because I want your job’. We often have a joke about it now.”
Working in the Child Protection Team can be tough but Roger says team members look out for each other. They all have mandatory three-monthly psychological evaluations and he has a good support network at home.
“Some of the things we see and hear does upset you. Some of it makes you think ‘can I continue to do this?’ But it’s not about us, it’s about them, our victims, our tamariki and moko who need someone to speak for them.
“By collaborating with partner agencies such as Oranga Tamariki and the families involved we can give that child a voice. I still believe it takes a community to raise a child, it’s about walking and talking together.”
Roger says although victim safety and wellbeing is paramount, police also have to look at what’s driving crime or causing the offender to offend.
“We have to consider their position and ask ‘what can we do for you to make your life better? What can we do to help you stop your offending? It may be in the form of some sort of drug intervention or something as simple as helping someone get their driver’s licence.
“Police have a great app on our phones now called ‘Awhi’ and we can make immediate referrals to our partner agencies.”
Roger says the greatest satisfaction he gets is when he is able to hold an offender to account and the victim is able to move on.
Detective Roger Whale of Taupo¯ Police’s child protection team says what he does is about making a difference in someone’s life.