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In memory of lost cops

Last updated 09:06 07/02/2013
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FATAL SHOOTING: A memorial service was held to honour Detective Inspector Wallace Chalmer and Detective Sergeant Neville Power, shot dead 50 years ago near Bethells Beach.

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Fifty years of service from the Armed Offenders Squad also marks the deaths of two detectives shot dead near Bethells Beach.

A memorial service by police last week honoured Detective Inspector Wallace Chalmers and Detective Sergeant Neville Power, killed during a standoff between police and a Waitakere man.

About a month later, Constable Bryan Schultz and Constable James Richardson were shot dead in Lower Hutt.

Their deaths led to major changes in police tactics and ultimately the formation of the Armed Offenders Squad.

Mr Chalmers and Mr Power were shot on January 6, 1963, when trying to arrest Victor George Wasmuth.

Police were called to boarding kennels in Bethells Rd about 3.30pm after a man collecting his dog was wounded by a rifle shot. The owner of the kennels, James Berry, went outside to see where the shots were coming from and was killed.

The first policeman to arrive was Constable Walker of the Henderson police, attending with an ambulance officer.

They tried to reach Mr Berry. Heavy rain began to fall and six more police arrived with rifles and semi-automatic pistols.

The gunman, Mr Wasmuth, was located in a cottage on the hillside and approached cautiously.

He fired at police when they called for him to come out.

Mr Power tried to discharge a teargas pistol through the window but was shot dead at point blank range.

There followed an exchange of shots between the gunman and police during which time Mr Chalmers was also shot and died.

Shortly afterwards the gunman appeared from the cottage and was wounded in the arm. He was taken into custody but declared insane and unfit to stand trial.

Mr Power, a married man, was the second of four sons of Assistant Commissioner Orme Power.

Mr Power Sr had been listening to police radio reports when he learned of his son's death.

Mr Wallace served with the police for 25 years.

He had been a member of the police party hunting Stanley Graham in another infamous shooting incident near Hokitika in 1941, in which four police were among six people killed.

Both Mr Wallace and Mr Power were posthumously awarded the Queen's Police Medal for gallantry.

A plaque in memory of the two officers is displayed in the ground floor foyer of the Auckland central police station.

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- Rodney Times

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