Still loving keeping the streets safe

Last updated 14:07 13/08/2013
Shane Dye main
JOHN NICHOLSON/Fairfax NZ
CRIME FIGHTER: Detective sergeant Shane Dye has been with the police for nearly 20 years, and he says it’s still as satisfying now as it was on his first day on the beat.

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HE'S been involved in homicide investigations, child abuse cases, called out to aggravated robberies, serious assaults and has put drug dealers under surveillance. There's not much detective sergeant Shane Dye hasn't done, or seen for that matter, during his almost 20-years with the New Zealand Police.
''I have dealt with incidents where people have died due to being stabbed, beaten, shot, burnt, vehicle collisions, overdoses, suicides by jumping, shooting and hanging.
''I have no idea how many dead bodies I have seen over the years, some have next to no impact at all, others can be harder to deal with, depending on the circumstances.'' A murder-suicide where four knives were used, a frenzied stabbing in a small shed, and a body thrown over a bank and found a week later in the middle of the night have been among the most gruesome cases.
''But the worst scenes which are also the most tragic are cot deaths - the blood and guts scenes are easier to deal with,'' says Mr Dye.
On the job he's escaped with only minor bruises and grazes from various assaults, but he has feared for his physical wellbeing a number of times, mostly when dealing with firearms incidents.
And the Auckland-born, Wellingtonbred father of five, who also co-owns a Wellington childcare centre, has feared for his life just once when he was off-duty.
''I was celebrating a brother returning from the Solomon Islands with the Army in Shannon when at 3am we heard someone threatening to kill his partner.
''We went to investigate, called the police and made sure she was safe until they arrived, but the offender saw us and attacked me, threatening to kill me while trying to cut my throat with a boning knife. ''The only reason he missed was my swaying out of the way. I wrestled with him and with my brother's assistance, disarmed him. I put him into arm and wrist lock and held him until the police arrived. My police training came to the fore and I acted on instinct at the time only receiving a cut to the left hand. A couple of stitches at the start of work the next day saw the hand fi xed.'' The adrenalin has pumped through Mr Dye's veins many times during his career to date, but he still gets just as much enjoyment and satisfaction from the job as he did on day one.
''I still enjoy what I do, there's a huge amount of variety in the police, there are so many different areas you can work in, and different types of investigations you get to work on.'' In his school days Mr Dye had wanted to become ''the best defence lawyer'', but after starting university he realised it wasn't for him and left, taking up various jobs including sales work and street theatre.
''I wasn't happy doing sales work either but I knew I wanted a job where I was dealing with people, so it was either become a builder or join the police.
''I've always got a kick out of helping people, it's something I enjoy, so the police was an obvious choice for me, and I've never had any regrets.'' For the last year Mr Dye has been in charge of Wellington Criminal Investigation Branch, or CIB squad of 10 detectives, who work alongside frontline police providing coverage 24 hours a day seven days a week.
During a shift the CIB can be called out half a dozen times, responding to all emergency calls of serious crime, ranging from suspicious or unexplained deaths and suicides to rapes, aggravated robberies, aggravated burglaries, thefts and frauds, and serious assaults where people are either hospitalised, unconscious or suffering broken bones. Among the more prominent recent investigations Mr Dye's been a part of are the Strathmore homicide where a woman was fatally stabbed by her partner, the inquiry into Radio New Zealand journalist Phillip Cottrell's murder, and a spate of burglaries and arsons, including arson to the Karori police base.
Come September, Mr Dye will take a sideways step into the tactical crime unit, previously the crime control unit, where he'll be part of a team of two detective sergeants and eight detectives predominantly targeting repeat offenders, street level drug dealers and tinnie houses.
''I'm very excited - I remember when I was just starting out in the late 1990s, I told my supervisor at the time, a detective sergeant, who I thought had the best job in the New Zealand police, that I wanted his job. Come September I have it.'' Mr Dye also likes the fact that the tactical crime unit has more of a prevention portfolio, meaning it works to prevent crime occurring before it does.
''It's a proactive squad, which can make a lot of difference, and that's part of the attraction.'' Mr Dye has been part of Wellington's CIB for more than 10 years now, the last three as detective sergeant.
Since graduating from Police College in 1994, he's done numerous roles, starting out on the beat, working in the police communications centre, then the CIB's crime control unit, or tactical crime unit as it's known now, as a uniformed officer, before joining the CIB proper.
After qualifying as a detective, he's also been part of the general investigation team based in Johnsonville, the child abuse team, the organised crime unit and investigations squad. He's even taught two sections of recruits at Police College, boasting a 100 per cent pass rate.
Mr Dye recalls the very first incident he and another graduate attended on their own first day on the beat, the robbery of a bookshop.
''We had quite a distinctive description of the offender, he had a broken arm, we saw someone fitting that description, called for some assistance and he was arrested and taken to the cell.
''It was fantastic to go back to the bookshop afterwards to tell the owner the offender had been caught, arrested and was going to court, I felt pretty good.'' As a dispatcher in the communications centre he remembers having mixed emotions after dispatching a 111 call when an armed gunman held up Naenae Trust Bank in 1997.
''Police caught and arrested the man, which was a good result, I was ecstatic, but he shot and killed a bank teller so I also felt really disappointed with myself that I hadn't managed to prevent his death, I beat myself up about that for a while.'' Within the child abuse team Mr Dye has spoken to a large number of children in order to investigate their offenders and hold them to account.
''It's horrific what these children go through, they often try to hide their shame or they're embarrassed, but we need to extract the best evidence we can from them to do our jobs properly and put these offenders away.
''It's very frustrating but very rewarding at the same time, the effect of taking a child out of an abusive situation and making it safe for them again is huge.
''I've even had a couple of cases where the child victims I've dealt with have come to me later on and thanked me for what I'd done at the time, it felt awesome to know that I'd helped to turn their lives around.'' While there have been plenty of memorable, satisfying and rewarding moments over the last two decades, he's looking forward to many more when he takes on his dream job next month.
''Within the police I get to work with fantastic, motivated, hardworking people, I get to oversee investigations, mentor staff through their own development and see them grow from constables coming from the uniformed branch through to detectives, and I get to participate and enjoy all the good results we achieve.
''What I'm really looking forward to in my new role is being able to make a positive difference to help keep Wellington a safer place.''

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