Community shows support

    Tributes from members of Southland's community have been flowing into police stations across the region following the death of Constable Matthew Hunt in Auckland last week.

    WHEN Auckland-based Police Constable Matthew Hunt was slain on duty last week, the loss was felt as far as the deep south.

    Slowly but surely, tributes began to line the walkways outside Southland police stations in an act of community solidarity.

    From flowers to cards, fresh scones and sweet treats, police were overwhelmed by the level of community support, Southland Area Commander Inspector Mike Bowman said.

    “This is extremely humbling that our community would take the time to think of their local police, who all have been impacted by the tragic events in Auckland.

    “This tragedy is wide-reaching as police is about family and we all feel the pain of this tragedy, not just the police staff but equally their family and friends.”

    Since Saturday, community members had been leaving gifts at the entrance to the Invercargill, Gore and Winton police stations.

    “The children at Enrich@ILT school dropped off a big pile of great cards they had written and flowers and some amazing freshly baked scones with jam.

    “We have had sticky date loaves with caramel sauce… these didn’t last long.”

    The Batch Cafe also left a huge bundle of their “world-famous cheese scones”, Insp Bowman said.

    “It makes you realise that people here do actually care about their police in Southland and wider New Zealand.”

    The death of Constable Hunt had hit Southland police “very hard”, he said.

    “In particular, some of our newer staff who have only just joined or have been in just a short time.

    “It makes us all realise the potential risks that our people face day-in, day-out.”

    Insp Bowman said the event in Auckland had brought on a “level of anxiety”, not just for officers but also their families.

    A high level of training and tactical options were instructed to all officers to help minimise the risks they faced on a daily basis, he said.

    Staff were also being encouraged to talk to someone if they felt it was needed, be it colleagues, friends, family or the welfare networks offered through the police.

    “Our thoughts are with the family of Constable Hunt and the other two persons injured, but also with the staff members and colleagues up there, who had to carry on working through an officer’s worst nightmare of having a fellow workmate slain on duty.”

    Insp Bowman stressed how much officers appreciated all the support from the Southland community.

    • The only Southland police officer killed in the line of duty was 21-year-old Constable Peter William Murphy, who was shot on September 25, 1976, while attending a break-in at a sports shop in Invercargill.

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