18 Sep 2008

More officers may be killed warns mother of slain policeman

5:45 pm on 18 September 2008

The mother of slain police officer Don Wilkinson has told mourners at his funeral that others will be killed if nothing is done to combat drugs in the community.

The 46-year-old officer was killed while on a covert operation near a suspected methamphetamine lab.

He was farewelled at Auckland's Holy Trinity Cathedral on Thursday.

About 800 people attended the service, most of them uniformed officers.

Beverly Lawrie said she was very proud of her son, who she described as a hero who died in the service of his country.

"Policemen and policewomen I salute you, and I thank you. I'm very proud that my son belonged to the very thin frontline in front of you when you went out on the job.

"Don died in the service of his country. He was a hero."

She warned of the consequences of not learning from the tragedy.

"If we learn anything from his death, it's not the fact Donnie was shot, it's the fact many more will be, unless we clean up the gangs and the drugs."

The Very Reverend Ross Bay, who led the service, said there is a stand against the scourge of those manufacturing and supplying the drug, and the havoc it wreaks.

Those sentiments were echoed by the Police Commissioner, Howard Broad, who said he is scared by people who feel they can take the drug without realising the consequences.

He said Sergeant Wilkinson was a courageous officer who served his community in silence.

Police Minister Annette King said the death of any officer is a tragedy and it's a reminder of the dangers of police work.

Sergeant Wilkinson's casket was draped in a police flag, with a framed portrait on top of it, as well as items representing time he spent with the United Nations.

At his family's request, the formalities of a full police funeral were combined with a family service.

Meanwhile, a man has been charged over Mr Wilkinson's death and will appear in court again later in September.

A police colleague, who was also shot during the incident, is now recovering at home.