Police bravery award deserves praise

OUR VIEW
There are few jobs as dangerous as policing.
Every day in the Bay, the men and women who put on the trusted blue uniform go to work not knowing exactly what they will encounter.
The worst-case scenario is a life-threatening situation - and that's exactly the position Constable James Muir, a Tauranga dog handler and father of two, found himself in just over three years ago.
Two teenage boys shot at Mr Muir with a high-powered rifle during an 8km police pursuit.
Once the cars had come to a stop, the constable and other officers retreated for cover as one of the armed teens pointed the gun at them.
The teen pulled the trigger but the gun did not fire. In the seconds that followed, Mr Muir released his dog Neo, who latched on to the teen.
After a brief struggle, the offender was overpowered and the other boy surrendered.
On Saturday, this paper carried the story of how Mr Muir has just been awarded the Charles Upham Award for Bravery - a prestigious award for a person who risks their life in an outstanding act of heroism.
Mr Muir is the first Bay officer and just the sixth in the country to receive the honour.
He deserves the highest praise and it is satisfying to publish positive articles about the police.
As an institution, the police are often in the public spotlight and sometimes criticised.
But their job is never easy and often dangerous.
There have been several high-profile assaults on police officers this year, including one where a constable was left in a coma after being attacked by a mob of teenagers.
Between the 2004-05 year and 2008-09 total assaults on police increased by a third, from 1869 to 2481, while serious assaults increased 38 per cent, from 298 to 412.


There were 23 assaults on police in the Bay of Plenty in June 2010, compared with 27 for the same month last year.
Nationally, there were 170 assaults on police officers last month compared with 212 in June 2009.
Justice Minister Simon Power is to introduce legislation to Parliament that would make judges consider a harsher sentence for attacks on police or Corrections officers.
Such legislation is long overdue.
Thankfully, incidents involving firearms are still rare.
Having said that, the names of officers such as Len Snee, Don Wilkinson, and Duncan Taylor are forever etched in our minds.
They were shot for just doing their job and trying to protect the public.
Thankfully, other heroes in blue have come through unscathed.
James Muir is one of them.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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