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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 force.
"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, "Assist police."
"The main thing we wanted to do was to help to keep the parties separated just to stop anybody else from getting hurt."
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