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Police Commissioner Peter Marshall today presented 117 Canterbury police staff with the first of a new award marking the courageous and dedicated efforts of police personnel following the 22 February 2011 Canterbury earthquake.
“It was only appropriate that the first awards should be made to a group representing Canterbury police,” Commissioner Marshall said.
"Ultimately more than 1000 Canterbury police staff and 3600 nationally and internationally will receive the Citation for their roles in one of the darkest moments in New Zealand’s history.
“The 2011 Canterbury Earthquake Citation is a unique award for a unique set of circumstances,” he said.
“It recognises the incredible efforts of police or people who worked under our command on the ground during the national state of emergency through to 30 April 2011."
The Commissioner said he was incredibly proud of the way in which police staff operated in a physically and mentally challenging environment.
“We and the public quite rightly expect a lot from our police. The police earthquake response and continued delivery of policing services was heroic and exceptional at a time of unprecedented upheaval and devastation.
“The staff who worked on the ground demonstrated courage, commitment, compassion and skill, all the while delivering reassurance and business as usual policing services for the wider Christchurch community.
“The actions of these staff typified policing at its very best.”
Commissioner Marshall said it was hard to comprehend the scale of devastation, which resulted in 185 deaths, including that of police employee Pamela Brien.
“It is rare for this type of award to be made and it reflects the high esteem held for the work undertaken by recipients during a period of great risk and uncertainty.”
The Citation is known as a Dress Distinction, and takes the form of a red and black ribbon in a silver metallic frame. It can be worn on uniform tunics or lapels in the case of plain clothes or civilian recipients.
The Citation follows the presentation of plaques to districts and service centres, and also Certificates of Appreciation to more than 5000 police staff who worked on Operation Earthquake or who helped support the response to the traumatic events of 22 February 2011.
Commissioner Marshall said that the Citation is limited to those who worked in Christchurch during the emergency period. It did not, however, detract from the important support to the police earthquake response given by those who supported the operation from a distance.
Similar presentations to today’s ceremony will be taking place in all 12 police districts and service centres in the coming months.