Each week, we ask a high-profile New Zealander to share a photo memory. Detective Sergeant Rob Lemoto has hosted TVNZ’s Police Ten 7 for almost seven years.
Anya arrived six weeks early. I got a phone call to say my wife Kath was in labour.
I had a couple of shoplifters in the back of the car at the time. I was trained to deal with crisis and I just went into panic mode. I said to these guys, “Get out”, and pulled over.
They were like, “Is he joking?” I was like, “I’m not joking mate, my wife’s having a baby, I’m going to summons you to court. Get out.”
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I’d been a policeman for just over three and a half years when we had Anya. I’d always wanted to do it. I grew up in South Auckland. Gang members were bullies and the police were the ones who were holding them to account. I’d look up to that, I respected that, it was something I wanted to be part of.
I thought the hardest thing about the job would be having a scrap – going to a house and ending up in a fight with some muscle-bound, drug-fuelled offender. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Going to a family and telling them they’ve lost someone they love is heartbreaking. I couldn’t imagine what it was like until I actually had to do it, and then it was one of the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I can’t remember the first time, but I can remember the hardest time. I had to tell a young man he’d lost his mum, dad and sister. I was a boy myself and his pain was something I’ll never forget. t.
If I’m honest, I avoided going into Child Protection because I didn’t want to be reading these files – I was worried about what I’d be reading and how I’d react to it. You can’t help but think, “If that was my daughter…”, “If that was someone I know…” Because have to remove emotion from the whole thing.
When I was told I was going into Child Protection three years ago, I was really hesitant, but taking on the role, the processes in place and the positive impact that we have – yeah, there are some horrible things, but we have a chance to change that. I know my children are lucky, they’re blessed because they have a number of people who love them. I don’t think I approach it differently because I’m a parent; I’d like to think I had that empathy before I had kids, I just didn’t have that level of understanding.
Police Ten 7 airs at 7.30pm on Thursdays, on TVNZ 2.