Nothing unusual about assault on me, says cop

MARTY SHARPE HAWKE'S BAY
Last updated 05:00 26/07/2013

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The police officer kicked in the groin and spat on by Napier woman Roberta Harrison says it was not an especially unusual event.

"It certainly isn't the worst I've had to experience in the past six months," Sergeant Cameron Donnison said. "I've had one guy try to take my head off with a steel pole and another try the same with a machete."

Harrison, 44, delivered a "rugby punt" to his groin and spat "thick globules of mucus and saliva" at his face when she resisted arrest and refused to accompany him during a prolonged incident on Sunday night.

She was sentenced to 120 hours' community work in the Napier District Court on Wednesday.

Mr Donnison, a father of two children under 5 and a police officer for 12 years, said Harrison's assault "was not rare".

He has been stabbed in the hand, had his nose broken, and has needed medical attention after assaults about six times.

"On a couple of occasions I've been very lucky, to be honest. A couple of times things could have gone really badly and it was just very lucky backup arrived in time."

An incident the night before Harrison's assault could have been as bad, he said, after passengers in a car that was pulled over "went to town on us, threatening to bash us, kill us, all the rest".

"That kind of behaviour is pretty common all over the country. A lot of people who enter the job are probably shocked by what policing is. It's certainly not what a lot of people believe it is when they sign up."

Officers dealt with such incidents through humour, and "at the end of the day losing your cool is not going to help, especially if you're on your own, like I was with Roberta".

Mr Donnison said he was bound to come across Harrison again in the near future and would treat her like anyone else.

"You deal with most of these things and start afresh again. You always try and make the next interaction a bit better, of course."

Harrison's kick was painful and caused him to back off for a few moments, he said.

"It was certainly a bit uncomfortable at the time. The old adrenalin kicks in, though, and it's usually a bit later that you feel it."

According to national crime figures, there were 6479 assaults on police in the three years to June 30, 2012.

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- The Dominion Post

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