A weekend attack on a lone policeman at Kawhia has brought
back horrible memories for the town's former sole cop, who
was bashed while attending the scene of a murder.
Craig Blakey, who left the force because of the attack on him
on New Year's Day in 2007, said at least two officers should
be stationed together to prevent similar incidents.
Residents of the village - population 650 - were yesterday
reeling after another attack on a policeman.
Constable Perry Griffin is recovering with family after he
was disarmed of his OC spray and Taser and beaten by five men
on Friday evening at the Kawhia wharf. Volunteer firefighters
helped ward off the attackers.
Mr Griffin had been trying to handcuff a wanted 19-year-old
man when he was attacked from behind and suffered severe
bruising and grazes.
The attack - the fifth against an officer in the Waikato
since just before Christmas - has outraged the seaside
community, about 70km west of Hamilton, with many locals
calling for police to be better armed.
Mr Blakey said: "I'm sad that it's happened to an old police
officer who's just doing his job, basically."
Mr Blakey, now working as a cable technician in Hamilton, had
been called to a stabbing at a New Year's Eve party and was
attacked by two men while at the police station collecting
equipment. He was struck twice in the head, which left him
with two black eyes and a cut ear.
He said Mr Griffin would be needing a lot of support, as
would the officer's immediate family, and he acknowledged
that the emotional pain of being attacked would be more
hurtful than anything at the moment.
"I just hope he's okay and that his family's okay. We're all
different. But for me, my family opened up about what they'd
been through and that helped with my decision to leave the
"My younger boy went through a stage where, every time I left
home [after the attack happened], when I got called out, he'd
almost have a panic attack. He was so worried."
Mr Blakey said having at least two police at Kawhia might
help prevent another lone officer being attacked.
Kawhia's chief fire officer, Callum Stewart, said
firefighters received a pager call on Saturday saying,
"The main thing we wanted to do was to help to keep the
parties separated just to stop anybody else from getting
Mr Stewart said Mr Griffin's firearm became dislodged during
the melee. He found it on the ground among a crowd of people.
Firefighters, more than half of whom were women, helped to
keep the attackers at bay, gave first aid to Mr Griffin and
ensured the safety of about 80 holidaymakers who were at the
scene. Police reinforcements arrived about 40 minutes later.
Mr Griffin is recovering from a sore hip and bruising and
grazing to his face and arms but is looking forward to
returning to work.
Three men, including a father and son, appeared in the
Hamilton District Court on Saturday in relation to the attack
but police are looking for two other men and want the
public's help in identifying a man wearing a blue shirt who
was seen running across the road to the wharf and knocking Mr
Griffin to the ground.
- James Ihaka and Vaimoana Tapaleao of the NZ Herald