Police history in Horowhenua

173 police officers have served in Levin and district since 1893.

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 Constable Frederick Burrell was transferred to Levin in 1933 being at the Levin Station until 1936. 

Constable Christopher McRae came in 1935, staying until 1937. 

Constable Frederick Baker arrived in 1936 and remained in Levin for eight years. 

Constable Sidney Hercock replaced Constable McRae in 1937. 

Constable William Grainger was transferred as the first sergeant in Levin it seems, with three constables at the station. As the number of police has increased in Levin it would be tedious to list them all. 

When Sergeant Grainger transferred in 1958 after being in Levin for 14 years, Senior Sergeant Clifford George was transferred to Levin giving the station a lift in status. 

Then arrived the first detective, William J. Ross, Detective Sergeant. Senior Sergeant George C. Donnelly replaced Clifford George in 1964. 

The first non-commissioned detective transferred to Levin in 1972 was Detective Robert W. Bamber. 

Also Constable George Brown transferred to Levin in 1964. It was the beginning of a very long term. 

 

In 1965 the largest theft in Levin’s history was committed. Thieves broke through the roof and ceiling of the Self Help Supermarket in Queen Street (now Jarnell Carpets). They blew the floor safe. The safe had been covered with a sack of brown sugar, resulting in the ceiling being covered with the sticky layer. One thousand pounds ($2000) and many cheques were stolen which would now be ten times as much. 

Senior Sergeant Colin Smillie replaced George Donnelly in 1964. A sergeant’s rank was brought back in 1971 with the appointment of Sergeant Peter Grooby. 

Constable Brian McAllister came in 1968 and is still serving after 20 years. He has been involved in search and rescue in the Tararua Ranges. 

Detective Graham Evans was a replacement in 1969. Another change was of Senior Sergeant David Davey in 1971 as officer in charge. 

In 1973 the status of the station was raised with the appointment of Inspector Frederick  J. Anderson as head of the station with the rank of  Senior Sergeant being kept with Senior Sergeant Douglas Duff arriving in 1974. 

Chief  Inspector Peter J. Alty was made head of the station in 1984 and served until Inspector Dale Smeaton took command in 1986. Chief Inspector Joseph Dumble is now the superintendent. 

There has been a policewoman since 1987, Constable Tracy Black. Others on the staff are Constables Lara Berryman, Susan Christianson, Fiona Knight and Dianne Brown. 

Constable Gordon Diffy served for 21 years from 1952 to 1973. One incident he remembers was when carrying out the body of a person who died in a shooting accident. 

The party was crossing the very low Mangahao Dam and one foot sank that low in the mud, that when he pulled his foot out his boot pulled off and was irrecoverably deep in the mud. 

Sergeant George A. Brown has completed 26 years at the Levin Station as a Constable and Sergeant. 

Constable John M. Craig has been at the station since 1965, for 22 years, and is well known as the Community Constable on the street. 

A total of 173 police have served or are still serving in the Levin Police Force, including two who have served twice.


In 1889 the senior police house was used as the Police Station. A new police house was built on the north east corner of Bristol and Exeter Streets in 1919. 

This was removed or demolished about 1944 when a new brick house was built. Hodder and Tolley bought the property in 1970, removing the house and building to their business premises. 

Photo at left shows Mudgeway Bros. shifting the cell block from the corner of Bristol and Exeter Streets in 1970 to Hokio where it was used as a house. Sid Mudgeway and nephew Vernon Mudgeway are pictured.

Tony’s Tyre Service now uses the building. The cell block was removed by Mudgeway Bros. Carriers and it was used as a house at Hokio. 

The Court House was built in 1903. It has been written that it was built in 1908 but this is wrong. It seems that there was a date of 1908 in the front porch but probably that was when the porch was added.

Photo at right shows Arnold Bagrie (son of Constable Bagrie) and an unknown friend outside the original courthouse in about 1920. 

There is evidence, including an entry in the Levin School Log, that the Court House, new Post Office and Ohau River Bridge were opened by the Postmaster General, Joseph Ward, on August 17, 1903. Additions have been built over the years. 

In 1927 a poultry farmer in Weraroa Road killed his wife and one of his family, badly injuring another of his children. He attempted unsuccessfully to commit suicide by taking rat poison. He was acquitted on the grounds of insanity and confined to an asylum. This case stretched the facilities of the Court House as a police station. The case was referred to in the annual police report to Parliament.

 

The Justice department decided that Levin needed a police station. A section next to the Court House was bought for 75 pounds ($150). This was thought to be too narrow for the proposed building so the next section south was bought for 125 pounds ($250) from the Levin Club. 

It was many years before the police station was built in 1941. This consisted of a watch house, inquiry office and sergeant’s room until 1944 when Grainger come.

Many alterations and additions have been made over the years. A police house was built on the south side and has since been moved to the rear of the main building and is now part of the station. Other buildings such as garages have been built over the years. 

The night shift began in 1958 with Levin having the country’s first 24 hour coverage. The first police car came in 1964, though a motorcycle had been used earlier. 

The force now consists of 50 men and women of all ranks.

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Police history in Horowhenua


Creator:Corrie Swanwick
Creation date:08/11/1989
Publisher:The News

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