Bravery award for reluctant hero

03:37, Jun 25 2014
Ashley Engelbrecht
HUMBLE HERO: Ashley Engelbrecht has received a police commendation for an act of bravery.

A reluctant hero who stepped into the heat of a vicious attack on a police officer has finally been awarded for her bravery.

Not that Hamilton woman Ashley Engelbrecht considered her actions brave - anyone in her position would have done exactly the same thing, she said.

Engelbrecht received the commendation today at the Waikato Police pay parade held at the Hamilton Gardens pavilion.

 Sergeant Dean
PROFESSIONAL: Morrinsville-based Detective Sergeant Dean Anderson with the Gallagher Trophy for policing excellence.

Serving officers were also formally acknowledged for long service, good conduct, courage and dedication to duty.

As deputy police commissioner Viv Rickard said, all the good work police do often goes unnoticed - the parade is an opportunity to highlight some of it.

Engelbrecht said she consciously avoided any public recognition of her deed and only accepted it after her daughter finished school.


The attack occurred in Hamilton East at the corner of Grey and Clyde streets one April evening in 2011.

''I was sitting in my car waiting for my daughter and I noticed a police officer apprehend a young man,'' she said. ''The officer tried to handcuff the guy and he managed to swipe at the officer.''

The punch knocked the officer to the ground, she said, yet the man continued to kick and punch the officer in the face.

Engelbrecht could hear the blows and that's what really got her moving. 

She ran to the officer's aid and dragged the man off.

He turned and threw a punch that glanced off the side of her head. But others arrived and they prevented further injury.

The commendation was ''really humbling'', Engelbrecht said.

''I think people have done far greater things and I think anyone in my position would have have done exactly the same thing I did.

''I don't stand for people being abusive to others - it's just the way I am I guess.''

The final award of the event was the prestigious Gallagher Trophy for policing excellence.

Detective Sergeant Dean Anderson was shocked to receive it.

''I certainly wouldn't have expected it. Like all the staff here I do my duty every day.

"Teams are there for a reason - individuals don't do it. You can award people with all the awards in the world but we work as teams and we get the results.''

He said it felt strange receiving the award when the investigation into the killing of Paeroa pizza chef Jordan Voudouris remains open and unsolved.

While Anderson was reluctant to accept praise, Gallagher's Margaret Comer had no such qualms as she presented the trophy.''

He is described as being a man with a high level of professionalism, people skills, policing insight and work ethic to match,'' she told the 300-strong audience. 

''His modus operandi is not only to complete his work to an exceptionally high level, but to actively support others to excel by assisting them with practical advice and guidance.


"He is held in high esteem by his supervisors and colleagues who describe him as honest, extremely capable and one who deliberately operates under the radar.''

She said he breathed new life into stale cases and achieved positive outcomes, including identifying sex offenders hiding in the community.''

Some feel, but for his intervention, those successes may not have occurred.''His approach has saved many from becoming victims and changed the fabric of the community he serves, Comer said.

Waikato Times