“Trevor Beatson: A Policeman at the Pulpit,” Ensign, Feb. 1987, 58–59
“If you need help, ask a policeman,” countless mothers in many parts of the world tell their children. Trevor Beatson is living proof that this is good advice.
A police inspector for many years and police chief in the northern part of the Hutt Valley in New Zealand, Brother Beatson also served as a stake president for more than eight years. Recently, he was promoted to chief inspector and transferred to another area, which meant being released from his calling and moving to Whangarei in the Northland region of New Zealand’s North Island.
Trevor Alan Beatson was born in Ahipara, a tiny township near Ninety Mile Beach on the opposite side of the island. His was one of the few European families in an area where the Maori influence is strong, so he grew up with two languages and two cultures.
The second of four children in a timber-milling family, young Trevor grew used to hard physical labor and outdoor activity. “Often we would go fishing in the sea before school, and the fish we caught would be our breakfast,” he says.
His family were not members of the Church, but a family who lived down the road were. “They were regarded by the neighborhood as eccentric,” Brother Beatson says with a wry smile.
His Presbyterian parents didn’t attend church, but they sent him to Sunday school and other church services and made sure he knew the Bible. From them he also learned to appreciate the world of nature. “I spent a lot of time deep in the forests with my father, who knew all about the bush,” says Brother Beatson. “For every tree he cut down, he would plant about six.”
At seventeen, Trevor left home and school and joined the police as a cadet. After graduating from the Police College high in his class, he worked in Auckland. For a while, he supplemented his pay by wrestling professionally.
Then one day when he was twenty-four, he strode up the police station steps, walked through the door into the reception area, and met a Maori receptionist with a dazzling smile. She changed his life.
“The very first time I saw her I recognized something about her that was different,” he says. “It was something I felt rather than saw, but it was something I wanted in my life.”
Her name was Kay, and she came from Warkworth, a farming town halfway between Auckland and Whangarei. He soon found out that she belonged to the religion he and his friends had described as “eccentric.”
He was working as a detective with the fraud squad at the time. “I am not sure whether I set out to prove her beliefs wrong, or whether I tried to use my investigative skills to prove that her beliefs were right,” he says. Whatever his motives, the result was what he now describes as “a certain spiritual awakening.”
Trevor and Kay were married eighteen months later. In time, he joined the Church, and a year later they were sealed in the New Zealand Temple. Impressed by his wife’s dedication to the gospel, Brother Beatson decided that baptism would mean total dedication for him, too. That dedication showed later when, as a stake president, he often attended stake conference on Saturday night, then went directly to his office, changed into uniform, worked through the night, and was back to preside at the Sunday morning meeting—often without ever going home.
His country background had given Brother Beatson an affinity for dogs, and for several years he was a police dog handler. He and his dog, Adam, tracked down thieves and offenders of many kinds. Brother Beatson was shot at several times, stabbed once, and often came home bruised and bandaged despite his wrestling skills. One night the Scotia Place chapel in Auckland was broken into, and Brother Beatson and his dog were called to find a trail. They tracked the burglar to a nearby park, where he gave himself up.
Eventually Brother Beatson became chief dog trainer, a post he held for eight years. During that time he introduced drug and explosive detection dogs to the New Zealand police and trained dogs for use in Australia, New Guinea, Fiji, Hong Kong, Tonga, and Singapore.
Promotion in the New Zealand police force depends as much on passing examinations as it does on experience and performance. Brother Beatson continued his studies, and when he reached the rank of inspector he was transferred to the Wellington Police District.
There he helped plan and coordinate many of the major police operations in the area, including those for VIP visits, royal tours, political demonstrations, and the opening of Parliament each year. Early last year, he was placed in command of the Upper Hutt district, an area with a population of about thirty-two thousand people.
While serving as stake president, he saw a new stake center completed. He also helped establish a strong team of high councilors.
Brother Beatson has had no problems reconciling the two different worlds of his profession and his church work. Integrity and honesty are principles his father instilled in him, and he continues to live by them.