COMMENT:

"Officer down".

That terrible expression is something that no police officer ever wants to hear.

When it does happen and a police officer is killed on duty it has an enormous impact on us all. When I say 'us all' I mean every member of the police and includes every former and retired member as well.

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When I heard that Constable Matthew Hunt had been murdered in the line of duty on Friday I was driving my car and the reaction was instant and involuntary. Tears streamed down my cheeks. Instant grief and fear.

I wondered if I knew the deceased officer and I was fearful for the wellbeing of his patrol partner who had also been shot. I was also concerned for the bystander injured by the fleeing vehicle.

I spent 33 years in the police and another 13 doing "Police Ten 7" on television; so the NZ Police is still ingrained in a large part of my character. It is nearly 20 years since I was a sworn officer but I still feel a part of the police family; as do a vast number of former and retired police officers. I know that most of them would have had an identical reaction to my own.

Forensics at the scene of the shooting in Massey where Constable Matthew Hunt died. Photo / Hayden Woodward
Forensics at the scene of the shooting in Massey where Constable Matthew Hunt died. Photo / Hayden Woodward

We have a deep understanding of police work. Its dangers, pitfalls, nuances, rewards and penalties which are many and varied and either not understood or misunderstood by most sideline commentators. When one of us is killed on duty it is instantly realised that it could have been any one of us. Our families know this too.

Constable Matthew Hunt was shot dead in Massey on Friday.
Constable Matthew Hunt was shot dead in Massey on Friday.

They also carry the fear more than the officers themselves from day to day. I think it is also fair to say that our reaction is not coloured by anger which may surprise some. There is a realisation that these things happen in a moment of senselessness; sometimes fuelled by drug taking.

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Through our distress we are all comforted by the supportive stance of most New Zealanders and kind gestures like those from the Auckland Blues with their black arm bands and the Sky Tower's blue light coating.

All NZ Police, past and present, know that New Zealanders appreciate what they do and also feel the pain of this tragic event for all involved.