Orewa’s Graham Bracey, 87, still remembers the day he received Duke – Auckland’s first police dog.
“It was a special moment, I applied to be Auckland’s first dog handler and got given Duke who became very successful at tracking down offenders.”
Police dogs were first brought into New Zealand in 1956 and were slowly distributed around New Zealand.
Auckland’s first dog was given to Sergeant Bracey in 1958 and became operational in 1959.
At the time Bacey was working in central Auckland.
Bracey said he joined the police in 1955 and Duke was the only operational dog in Auckland for four years.
“Working with dogs was completely new and unheard of at this time. I had to start from scratch which wasn’t easy.
“At the start it was hard because police did not accept Duke as they didn’t see his value at that point. I had to prove that dogs were assets to the team.”
Auckland’s population was very small at the time in comparison to today and there were very little police.
“We only had two police vehicles north of Waitematā Harbour which both had no police radios.
“All suburban police officers used their own vehicles and were given mileage, including myself. I did not have a vehicle for Duke and I, we use to have to be picked up,” Bracey said.
Bracey said there was only one police officer in Devonport, one in Orewa, and the same in Warkworth and Wellsford.
“Duke and I worked endlessly chasing and tracking down some of the hardest criminals.
“As time went on I then moved on to become a training officer and started training other police dogs and drug dogs.”
In 1989 Bracey resigned and was given the Queen’s Service Medal.
“Over the years the Auckland dog section has grown from strength to strength. There are so many great dog handlers and dogs now and I believe there is no shortage of vehicles or equipment.
“The New Zealand Police is a wonderful organisation and every effort is made to keep peace. I was blessed with a very wonderful and exciting career,” Bracey said.
– Rodney Times