Former Police Commissioner Bob Walton, 86, died peacefully at
his home in Wellington last night.
Police Commissioner Howard Broad said Mr Walton saw policing
through a tumultuous time during his tenure from 1978 to
1983, which included the occupation of Bastion Point and the
1981 Springbok Tour.
Police intelligence played a vital role during the Springbok
tour and this was a trademark of Mr Walton's career.
In 1963, as a detective inspector, Mr Walton was a leading
member of the team which established the Armed Offenders
One of his contributions to its success was an insistence
upon methodical intelligence-gathering.
He was instrumental in developing the operational blueprint
for the squad. The resulting policy of cordon, contain and
appeal is still followed.
As detective chief inspector, Mr Walton led the investigation
into Auckland's Bassett Road murders in 1963.
The major breakthrough in the case came when Parliamentary
undersecretary Robert Muldoon escorted Mr Walton to a man he
believed could aid the investigation.
This man implicated John Gillies, who was later sentenced to
life imprisonment with co-accused Ronald Jorgensen.
Jorgensen later disappeared from Kaikoura and his car was
found over a cliff.
Mr Walton went to Washington in 1964 to study enforcement
methods against narcotics and on his return was directed to
form police drug squads.
Although drugs had not at that point been a large problem in
New Zealand, the Bassett Road murders were said to be
committed under the influence of drugs.
Mr Walton helped draft the 1965 Narcotics Act. The Act was
seen as draconian but it paved the way for undercover
operations and exempted from prosecution those officers
involved in this work for the Crown.
In 1979, Mr Walton established a specialist disaster victim
identification team following the Granville train disaster in
New South Wales.
The Mt Erebus disaster occurred only a matter of weeks later
and the team was sent to Antarctica.
Mr Walton was also commissioner at the time of the Thomas
royal commission into the north Waikato murders of Harvey and
Jeanette Crewe in 1970.
Mr Walton saw active service during the World War 2 and was
still a colonel in the territorial force when commissioner, a
unique combination of offices.
Mr Broad said Mr Walton's funeral would be a police service,
probably early next week, in Wellington. Mr Walton was
survived by his wife Marjorie and daughter Jan.