Prince William visited a Metropolitan Police custody center in Croydon, South London, on Wednesday, May 12, to pay tribute to British Police Sergeant Matt Ratana, who was shot and killed on duty in September 2020.
Ratana, who served in the police for 30 years, was preparing to search a handcuffed suspect when he was hit; he later died from a fatal wound to the chest. In November 2020, Louis De Zoysa, 23, was arrested on suspicion of his murder, The Sun reported.
The 38-year-old laid a wreath of flowers at a memorial bench, which was made just for the late officer. "I've wanted to come here for a while," he told The Met's Commissioner Cressida Dick.
"It's going to be mean a lot to people," she replied.
William also bowed his head for a few moment while looking at the bench, which features a small plaque with the words, "In memory of Sergeant Matt Ratana."
"Meeting the duke today brought back many fond memories of Matt, his enormous energy, his sense of duty and his overwhelming kindness," Sgt. Ratana's friend and line manager, Inspector Wil Ajose-Adeogun, said. "He was not just our colleague, he was our dear friend. His personality was the life and sound of Croydon Custody Centre and we all miss him dearly."
Sgt. Steven Braithwaite, who was also Ratana's pal and colleague, said: "Prince William asked how we deal with death and I said we would usually get drunk and make morbid jokes, to get through it, but we haven't been able to do that because of lockdown and he said let me know when you do and he would join us one day."
William also got to meet Dexter — the force's first wellness dog — who will help comfort police officers after traumatic incidents.
"This is Dexter. I love dogs. I understand he was too friendly and sociable to be a drugs dog," William said.
"Police officers put themselves in harm's way to keep people safe every day and they can be exposed to very harrowing and traumatic experiences," Commissioner Dick said.
"I am extremely proud of the men and women across the Met who support colleagues who have experienced trauma, breaking down the stigma of mental health and ensuring those who need help are supported," she added. "I am so pleased that His Royal Highness could meet those unsung heroes of the Met, looking out for the wellbeing of our officers."