Don Wilkinson was a technical security inspector with the New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau in 1993 before working with the UN and serving in many hot spots throughout the world. Upon returning to New Zealand, he joined the New Zealand Police, working in their Technical Support Unit. It is during this work he was murdered on September 11th, 2008.
Friends, family and police gathered at the Auckland Cathedral of the Holy Trinity September 18th 2008 to pay tribute to Mr. Wilkinson, who was gunned down while on a covert surveillance operation in South Auckland a week ago. Mr. Wilkinson's mother, Beverly Lawrie, hailed her son and his colleagues as heroes, saying he never shied away from risk, even as a child. "He was not wearing his vest, but it was his choice. He died instantly thank God. "He was never afraid of risk and lived life on the edge; never broke any bones. He was not wrapped in cotton wool. "As a child he had a real urgency to learn. By the time he was three he could read simple text. He was taught well by his dad and I. We are both teachers."
Mrs. Lawrie said her son was reserved but had a wonderful sense of humour. She recalled him electrifying his guitar and wiring it through speakers and driving his parents insane. In 1985 he went to Scott Base in Antarctica. "Who wants to dive through ice? He did. "He loved bike riding, squash, friends. He was loyal, trustworthy, scruffy - he was a hero, a good man," she said. As a private person, he would have found the funeral "social overload", she said. "I salute the policemen and policewomen of NZ. I was proud my son was in the frontline. He died for this country, he was a hero." However, Mrs. Lawrie said that, unless gangs and drugs were cleaned up, more police officers would be shot. Her sentiments were echoed by Police Commissioner Howard Broad, who attacked the drugs and gangs scene which claimed Mr Wilkinsonís life. "Don's death occurred while struggling to deal with illegal and dangerous drugs. Drugs and gangs go back at least 50 years. We've gradually built a culture where drugs are seen as a lifestyle choice. This must change. "Mr Broad said methamphetamine, was highly addictive and pushed people into violent and irrational behaviour.
Mr. Broad also paid tribute to a man who shied away from the spotlight and served his community silently. "To the family, I know that your hearts and minds are sad, and you are grieving. As you grieve so too do the other members of the police throughout New Zealand. "To be a police officer demands character to face the risks. We know of the risks, and our families know them also. We fear one of our colleagues will have to tell another colleague the sad news of one of our own passing." Mr. Broad said the work Mr. Wilkinson did in covert surveillance necessitated a high degree of secrecy and risk. "These risks are willingly accepted, planned for and dealt with. We work secretly with a high level of planning, care, patience and long hours. One hour may be routine and the next it shifts to be hugely exciting. Huge demands [are placed] on minds, bodies and nerves - but Don never complained. He was dependable, dedicated and hard working. "[Mr. Wilkinson] had common sense and good judgment. That trust and confidence was reciprocated by members of his team. He walked in the danger zone boldly. "His team will be feeling the loss ... Don was the first of our coverts to be killed on duty - one death is one too many."
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