Police Association honours two officers with Bravery Awards

NZPA | Fri October 13th, 2017

Two Police officers who demonstrated outstanding courage have each been honoured with the Police Association’s Bravery Award at the 82nd NZPA annual conference in Wellington.

Constable Darren Critchley and Senior Constable Ross Andrew, nominated by their peers, were presented with their awards by Rugby great, Sir Brian Lochore, a  former award evaluation panel member.

Association President Chris Cahill says both officers are fine examples of having the capacity to make immediate, and as it turns out, heroic decisions, when the mundane turned quickly into the dangerously serious.

“The officers not only displayed quick thinking, but extraordinary courage to put their lives at risk to rescue others,” Mr Cahill said.

Bravery Critchley and Ross

On July 8, 2016, Senior Constable Ross Andrew (retired) came across a serious crash when he was driving through the Manawatu River gorge. A large truck and trailer unit had careened through a barrier and came to rest, partly submerged, 50 metres down the gorge. Senior Constable Andrew picked his way down the steep ravine in driving winds and rain using a rope provided by a member of the public. He waded through the swift and rising water to the partly crushed cab and helped the woman passenger to the shore, giving her is protective vest for warmth. He returned to the cab, extracted the seriously injured driver onto the top of the cab and, aware hypothermia was setting in, lay next to the driver to shelter him from the relentless freezing mid-winter winds until a rescue helicopter arrived an hour later.  


On December 14, 2016, Constable Darren Critchley, a highway patrol officer, had finished work and had picked up his son from school when he heard an alert on the radio that several people were in trouble in the water at the Hukatere end of Ninety Mile Beach. Constable Critchley knew how dangerous the sea was, but repeatedly placed himself at risk in his rescue efforts. The male tourist was at the point of disappearing under the water when Constable Critchley reached him. He brought him back to shore and immediately re-entered the periolous water to try and find the woman. When he did he could see she was drowned so he lifted her on to the surf board, gave her mouth-to-mouth in hope the paramedics would be able to save her. Unfortunately they could not and Constable Critchley had to break the terrible news to her distraught friends.


Even from such brief descriptions of harrowing experiences, I believe it is very clear that not only did they place themselves in serious danger once, in each case they went back in to find the second person,” Mr Cahill said.

“To be awarded the Association’s Bravery Award is the highest honour we can bestow on our members, and I am tremedously proud to be associated with two officers who performed so outstandingly.”


About the New Zealand Police Association Bravery Awards

Bravery AwardThe New Zealand Police Association Bravery Awards were established by the Police Association to recognise and honour the most outstanding acts of bravery performed by members, on or off duty.  Whilst acts of bravery may be recognised by other Police and civilian awards, the Association’s Bravery Award is unique in that it represents recognition of a member’s outstanding bravery by his or her colleagues and peers.

The design of the award is based on the sternpost of a Maori waka, traditionally carved to provide guardianship on a journey.  In the Bravery Award, the cast bronze sternpost incorporates a Police chevron, and represents the strength, resolve and community guardianship of police.  The sternpost is topped by a flame of pounamu, representing the outstanding valour of the act of bravery, and the high value in which the recipient is held.

2017 is the seventh year in which Bravery Awards have been made.  The first award was made in 2010 to Inspector Mike O’Leary, who, while off duty, placed his own safety at risk in rescuing two children from a burning van following a serious crash near Taupo.  In 2011, Constable Mike Wardle and former constable Marty Stiles were honoured for their courage in rescuing Senior Constable Bruce Lamb after he had been shot through the face in Christchurch.  No awards were made in 2012 as the evaluation panel did not feel any nominated acts met the standard of extraordinary bravery required.  In 2013, Senior Constable Bryan Farquharson and Constable Paul Bailey received an award for leaping without hesitation into dangerous surf at Napier to save the life of a 12 year old boy. In 2014, Senior Constable Deane O’Connor received an award for leaping from a bridge, at nightfall, into the dark waters of Tauranga harbour to rescue a crash survivor.  In 2015 Senior Constable Adrian Oldham was awarded for entering a burning home without any fire safety equipment to rescue a trapped 77-year-old woman; Constable Ben Turner, unarmed, rushed an offender armed with a sawn-off shotgun who was attempting to carjack an elderly woman in a crowded car park.  The 2016 award was not made public due to the nature of the police operation involved.

The recipients of the Bravery Awards were selected by a panel comprising Police Association President Chris Cahill, Vice–President Craig Tickelpenny, Police Superintendent Sam Hoyle, former Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand and former Labour Minister Annette King.

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