Police officer remembers killed sidekick Gazza

Gazza and his handler Constable Josh Robertson (Dog Squad NZ / Facebook)
Gazza and his handler Constable Josh Robertson (Dog Squad NZ / Facebook)

The police officer whose dog Gazza was shot and killed on duty in Porirua has spoken for the first time since the incident about how he lost not only a partner, but a family member.

Gazza was killed during a routine police operation looking for a man who'd removed his monitoring bracelet on April 22, becoming the 24th police dog to die on duty.

A police officer was injured after jumping from a second-storey window to escape the gunman. The gunman was found dead in a separate house the following day.

In an interview with police magazine Ten One Constable Josh Robertson believed Gazza had taken the bullet which would have otherwise hit him.

He carried Gazza out of the house and sought cover.

"I laid him down and he just died there. That was really hard, really tough."

Police officer remembers killed sidekick Gazza

Police held a funeral for Gazza a week after he was shot (NZ Police)

Const Robertson, who joined Lower Hutt police in 2007, said the following days were difficult for he and his partner as the story dominated headlines over Anzac weekend.

He remembered Gazza as a dog who could "flip the switch" from being a tough police dog to being a playful "goober" and especially good with children.

"He was pretty special. He was our boy. At home he was just a silly dog, not a tool for catching criminals. At home he was a big goober.

"All he wanted to do was carry his rugby ball round and be with us. He wanted our company and it was unconditional."

Police officer remembers killed sidekick Gazza

 

(NZ Police)

Const Robertson recalled the games Gazza would play including when he would act stealthily to get into the house.

"He would sit at the front door looking into the house -- his favourite thing was to try to creep in. When we shooed him out again he would 'accidentally' drop his rugby ball so he'd have an excuse to come in and get it. It was almost like he had a sense of humour, like 'I'm just joking with you'. He was a clever dog."

The pair had been working together since the four-year-old German shepherd was eight weeks old.

In their first year together, Gazza and Const Robertson nabbed 86 people -- well above the average of 50.

"From a pup he was driven to do everything at 100m/h -- but if you channelled it you could get him to do anything you wanted him to do, he was so eager to please."

Gazza had a number of brushes with fame, having made headlines for chasing down an offender through the bush last year where he was choked.

"Gazza caught him, he tried to take the dog on, the dog won," Const Robertson recalled.

He'd been floored by the support following Gazza's death from police, Minister Judith Collins and the public including schoolchildren.

Const Robertson said he'd be keen to continue his work with a new dog, with the possibility a relative of Gazza's could be lined up for him though "there's nothing set in concrete".

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