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Friday, July 11, 2008

Sergeant Derek Wootton: Tragic Loss To Our Community

I woke up this morning hearing the tragic news of one of our local Police Officers being struck down and killed at 3 a.m. this morning by a boy in a stolen vehicle as the Police Officer lay road spikes in a street not too far from where I live. I have been complaining for the past couple of years of the barage of incidents with "boy racers" in our area at all hours of both days and nights that never cease to try to show off of what they might think they can actually get away with. I have always felt myself that not enough was being done by the local authorities to try to diminish this serious problem that has affected all the members of our community. Unfortunately all it takes is one life for people to start to take notice. My heart goes out to all the family and loved ones of Sergeant Derek Wootton. His death is a tragic loss to our community and to all those who loved him.

The Dominion Post Article

LATEST: The police officer killed when he was hit by a stolen car in Titahi Bay, north of Wellington, early this morning was a 52 year old who had been in the force for 14 years. View video: Police officer killed on duty
Sergeant Derek Wootton joined the police in March 1994 and was a "very experienced frontline supervisor", Wellington Police District Commander Superintendent Pieri Munro said.
The officer was killed when he was struck by the car as he was laying road spikes in a street in the Porirua suburb about 3am.
Police believe the car had been stolen in a carjacking in the nearby Wellington suburb of Tawa earlier this morning.
Mr Munro said Mr Wootton's death was "a huge loss for his family, friends and police colleagues".
"It's a very sobering time for all police but we are part of a respected professional service. Our staff are grieving but Derek's tragic death is not stopping us from fulfilling our job of policing our communities."
A 32-year-old man is due to appear in Porirua District Court this morning charged with: aggravated robbery, relating to a carjacking in Tawa; dangerous driving; dangerous driving causing death; failing to stop after an accident; and a charge of kidnapping, relating to the second person in the vehicle, a 16 year old.
The car, which stopped on a homeowner's front section, remains in Dimock St covered by a tent as investigators study the crash scene.
A police-issue stab-proof vest, with a radio still attached, lay on the ground near where the officer was struck, a witness said.
Police have confirmed the stolen car, a black Honda Prelude, was being pursued when the officer was killed.
The officer becomes the 27th police officer to be killed in the line of duty.
A Dimock St resident said she woke to the brief sound of screeching tyres and then heard the thud of an impact.
"The next thing we knew we could see flashing lights, not sirens, just the lights going and they were coming closer and closer to our house."
Her partner ran out into the street and saw the officer lying badly injured on the ground. Within moments a female officer had arrived at the scene and began frantically performing CPR.
"She worked very hard for a long time, till the first ambulance arrived. They worked on him for at least 20 minutes."
The woman’s partner said he took blankets out for the officer and offered to help as the female officer performed CPR.
"It was absolutely horrible to watch," the female resident said.
"Horrible that this could happen anywhere ... but in your own street and rushing out to try and help. How could you live with yourself if you were the driver?"
Kapiti Mana police commander Inspector John Spence said the officer's tragic death in the line of duty has devastated colleagues. Welfare support is in place for the officer's family and for colleagues, especially those first to the scene.
The car, which had been carjacked in Tawa, went through the spikes and was stopped by police about 300m further up the street, he said.
CPR by police and ambulance officers were unsuccessful and the policeman died at the scene.
Two people who were in the offending vehicle are currently being spoken to by police.
Police were appealing for witnesses who may have seen the car being driven around the Elsdon and Titahi Bay areas.
Prime Minister Helen Clark said it was a tragedy and it was a very sad day for his family, the police force and all New Zealanders.
"The police work so hard to support and protect our communities," she said through a spokeswoman.
"To see an officer killed in the line of duty is an appalling tragedy.
"The thoughts of all New Zealanders are with his family and colleagues today."
The death shows how risky the job is, Police Association president Greg O'Connor said.
"Inherently there are risks involved in the job and this brings it home."
He refused to talk about the dead policeman or the incident but said in the last few years there had been a big change in the attitude of some people towards the police.
"More and more people are prepared to have a go. They wouldn't have in the past. That is the big change in policing," he said.
The last police officer killed in the line of duty was Detective Constable Duncan Taylor.
He was fatally shot at Rongotea, near Feilding, in 2002.
Daniel Luff, 17, was later convicted of killing him.