Police dog handlers descended on Whakatane Intermediate today to recognise 30 years of support from the school, treating children to an impressive display of canine crime-fighting.
For 30 years the school has given an award to recognise the outstanding police dog and handler in the Bay of Plenty.
This year the display showcased obedience, tracking, agility and crime-fighting.
Children watched rapt as search and rescue dog Hera was lowered from a helicopter onto the school field with her handler, Warren Sangster, to locate an "injured" person.
Dogs and armed offenders squad members helped to "capture" four offenders responsible for a fictitious armed robbery.
This year's award went to Senior Constable Kayne Cording and Yoda, of Tauranga, for an incident in which they caught the driver of stolen car after a police chase had to be abandoned.
They battled through blackberry brambles before locating the man, who was hiding in a tree in an avocado orchard.
Cording said he had been striving to win the award ever since he joined the squad.
"I've finally cracked it," he said "What makes it ever more special is that it is the 30th year."
Dog handlers who received the award spoke of it being the highlight of their careers and he was proud to take it home, he said.
Police Minister Anne Tolley said the award fostered goodwill between the police and the community "and helped break down any barrier that might have been there between the police and young people".
National MP Mark Mitchell, an ex-police dog handler, said he was proud to have won the award in 2000.
"It is a really cool award and it is so good because it is picked by the children. So it is from their perspective," he said.
"They look at the stories and they say 'yep, that is who we think was the best performing team that year'.
"It is a real honour to get it. Dog handlers in the Bay of Plenty consider it a real honour if they are picked and then if they get this award.
"It was absolutely an honour for me."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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