Our lo­cal he­roes

Taupo & Turangi Weekender - - Front Page - Lau­rilee McMichael

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.

Photo / Lau­rilee McMichael

De­tec­tive Roger Whale of Taupo¯ Po­lice’s child pro­tec­tion team says what he does is about mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in some­one’s life.

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