President's Weekly Round-up: 26 February 2016

NZPA - Greg O'Connor | Fri February 26th, 2016

The five-year anniversary of the February 22 Christchurch earthquake has resonated in stations around the country, especially Christchurch, of course. There are not many stations I go to where I don't see at least one member wearing the red and black ribbon that signifies they were in Christchurch to assist following the quake.

The ribbon concept came from the Association. I have been part of many operations where out-of-town police converge to assist the locals. The trouble is, no one knows who the locals are and they can end up feeling a bit overwhelmed. It became very apparent in Greymouth following Pike River. So, when Welfare manager Pete Hayes and myself spent three weeks on the ground after the quake, we organised for the locals to get a red and black ribbon so the out-of-towners would know who they were and could help them, especially as so many had smashed-up homes of their own. That morphed into the presentation ribbon that so many still wear today.

I have said it before in this column, but we all need to understand that the effect of the quake is still very real in that city, and will be for some time. It shows up in so many ways, not least of which is substance abuse and violence. In fact, the whole crime scene has been tipped on its head. Watch out for public outbreaks of gang violence, in particular, as the traditional gangs disappear and make way for the big national and international ones to carve up the spoils. Also, the market created by an army of well-paid young men spending up large on illegal substances starts to shrink. More than the earth was shaken there.

Our colleagues are very much part of that change and still need acknowledgement for it. Make contact with any mates you have there and offer some support. It is appreciated.

We lost a courageous and resilient colleague last week. Sergeant Barry Woon, an active Association member from Tauranga, succumbed to melanoma after defying the odds considerably longer than predicted. Barry had already survived what were later proved to be false accusations of corruption by the Gisborne Mongrel Mob against the Crime Control Unit in the 1990s. He was not only acquitted but received a pay out and an apology from Police. His redemption was complete when he ended up training recruits at the Police College.  His son is a constable on the North Shore. Barry was a good man and his death is a tragedy.


Greg O’Connor

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