It is every police officer's worst case scenario - facing down a disturbed gunman in a crowded residential street.
Hawera constable Dylan Robinson has had a lot of time to reflect on the day he tackled a shotgun-carrying man on a street in Kaikohe, after an intense standoff where both he and his fellow officer had their weapons trained on the 40-year-old.
At the time, New Year's Day, Mr Robinson had already given his notice from his Kerikeri station to move to Taranaki and so received his Silver Merit for Bravery award at the Hawera station this week. Attending with his wife and two children, the presentation was held at the memorial ceremony for the 29 New Zealand police and traffic officers killed in the line of duty.
Mr Robinson did not need reminding that of those slain officers, 22 were shot dead, probably all following procedure like he did, but still not going home at the end of their shift.
"It was a funny day to get it, to be honest, but I suppose quite fitting."
On January 1 this year he and Sergeant Robert Rakete were called to Kaikohe after reports an armed man had got into a dispute with his neighbour.
The man allegedly held the gun to his neighbour's head and later fired it in the air as he went up the road.
"He's been strolling along the street with a loaded shotgun, pumping himself up," Mr Robinson recalled.
Armed with a Glock pistol while his sergeant took a Bushmaster rifle, the officers approached the man from opposite directions and made repeated challenges to drop his weapon.
Police and offender had each other in their sights in a hair-trigger situation, with the officers knowing the nearby homes were full of families home for the holidays.
"It was a lucky situation, really. If someone had shouted ‘bang', it could have gone horribly wrong," Mr Robinson said.
As the man relented and put down the shotgun, Mr Robinson tackled him and put the handcuffs on.
"He was a very lucky boy, that fella. To come out everyone safe and well, cops and offender, is your best-case scenario."
The man faced seven gun-related charges and was jailed for three years.
Mr Robinson served six years as a policeman in London.
After coming to New Zealand for a holiday, he fell in love with Taranaki and answered a New Zealand police recruitment advertisement when he went home.
He and the family spent three years in Kerikeri before the Hawera posting opened up.
- Taranaki Daily News
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