Officers honoured for bravery in saving lives

The bravery of two Dunedin police officers, who risked their own safety to save the lives of two people, was recognised at a police awards ceremony at the central Dunedin station yesterday.

Retired police administrator June Holden was also congratulated for her 42 years of continuous service to the force, and 70 people received Canterbury earthquake citations for their involvement in the recovery effort.

Constable Nick Wells and Senior Constable Mal Parker were awarded two of the five bravery and district commander's commendations given out yesterday.

Const Wells put his life at risk to save a man who went over a cliff at Karitane in June, and Snr Const Parker similarly risked his safety to help a man down from scaffolding high on the Dunedin Town Hall in September.

Others to receive commendations were Senior Sergeant Jason Guthrie, for leading a police reform in Dunedin and the Clutha; Senior Sergeant Phil McDouall, for planning operations during the Rugby World Cup; and Senior Constable Brendan Thomson, for his role as a shift commander in Honiara.

Long-service and good-conduct awards were given to 11 police officers and staff for continuous service of 14 years, while a further nine people were awarded 21-year medals.

In total, nine received long-service awards for 28 years and four officers were given 35-year service medals.

Ms Holden was the only recipient of a 42-year service medal.

Four officers were awarded certificates of promotion to sergeant and a fifth to inspector.

Assistant Commissioner Dave Cliff, who recently moved from Christchurch to the national police headquarters in Wellington, attended the ceremony to present the Canterbury citations.

He said last year's February 22 earthquake would become an iconic event for New Zealand police and the wider civilian population, as had the 1979 Erebus crash and 1981 Springbok tour.

''For all of us it will be etched in our memories. For the police it was a standard early shift, but at 12.51pm all that changed,'' he said.

A total of 185 people died and hundreds more were seriously injured, and 800 buildings in central Christchurch were damaged beyond repair and 16,000 homes destroyed.

Police received 1600 calls for help in the first 90 minutes.

Throughout the country, 3600 police officers and civilians under direct police command will receive a Canterbury earthquake citation.

Civilians accepting theirs yesterday included territorial battalion members Prof Jules Kieser and Associate Prof Darryl Tong from the University of Otago faculty of dentistry.



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