08 October 2009

Police accountability

I'm astonished that I'm going to agree with both David Garrett and Idiot Savant, but maybe there is a bit a belief in individual rights that can be nurtured?

Garrett describes a case as follows "Last month, while attending a call-out in Khandallah, police used force against a teenager they mistook for a gatecrasher at an out-of-control party. During the incident, the teenager suffered broken vertebrae in his neck after being struck with a baton. When he asked for the officer's badge number, he was told to 'eff off' – in direct contradiction of long-standing and established police guidelines"

Idiot Savant, beyond some cheap nastiness about Garrett caring about "rich kids", agrees. The question I would have is whether both men can ever possibly be consistent on this. Garrett after all has little history about caring about individual rights, Idiot Savant of course thoroughly embraces the thieving leviathan of a socialist state.

The fundamental problem with the Police, as I have described before, is that the separation of powers between the law enforcement, judiciary and legislative arms of the state means that the Police believe themselves to BE the law, and not accountable to those who pay for them, but most of all that their attitude to civilians - you're a suspect until we're satisfied otherwise- just wont do. The Police attitude to criminal justice policy is telling.

The Police exist as an extension of our own rights to self defence, they are paid for that purpose. When they turn on people without warning they are going completely against that.

Both myself and Trevor Loudon have presented options for Police reform. It would be good if some government would consider them.


Anonymous said...

Hey there - I think you need to seek a balanced view, Garrett's description of the incident does not include a comment from the officer who supposedly said "eff-off' nor the police supervisor about the incident. Remember, each story has two sides.

As a member of the police, I don't believe that I am the law. I am unsure where this prejudice comes from ... we are accountable, in many ways. Consider the Land Transport Act - we have certain defences for breaking speed limits and road rules in the execution of duty, but if we cock up, then we are accountable. Consider recent prosecutions for Careless driving. Also, under the new Disclosure Act, failing to adhere to the policy can result in being in Contempt of Court ....

I think there is some general misunderstanding about the roles of the police. In the most part, we act on the response of a complaint, collect evidence, and then report the evidence (if deemed to be sufficient) to the Courts. How can police solve a case, if there isn't any evidence to support it.

The NZ Police was formed on the basis that the police are the community and the community are the police - the police can only police with the support of the community. We certainly don't want to go down the track of a police state with draconian powers.

You suggest that road policing should be divested from Police - at the end of the day this is a political issue - you should consider the road toll statistics and look at the trend since amalgamation in the 90s.

I recommend that look into current criminology frameworks ... any criminologist will argue that police can not prevent crime ... crime is result of society ... unemployment, poverty, mental illness. None of these factors can be changed by police.

And finally, I have responded to many a job - attempted suicides, serious assaults, home invasions, search/rescue where it would have been wonderful to track the location of a subject through their cell-phone ... it would save lives in some instances as well as resources ...

Libertyscott said...

Thank you for your opinion, I appreciate the perspective.

I have encountered Police across the spectrum from those who, like yourself, are accountable and serve admirably, to those who presume guilt and are unafraid to use force when nobody is looking. Bear in mind the quasi-military culture and the nature of your work is going to present the risk of it attracting those who enjoy giving a bit of violence out.

Yes the courts hold you accountable, yet you are not financially penalised for wasting the court's time nor the time of the accused.

I worked in the state sector for some years and heard Police submissions on a number of pieces of legislation, which invariably asked for "more power, less monitoring of how we use it".

For example, there is a ridiculous provision now that requires any company wanting to set up a postal service in New Zealand to get the directors Police checked for drug offences. The Police explicitly asked for this. It is on the bizarre basis that "what if someone set up a postal company to traffic drugs". What is ridiculous about it is that the law applies only to letters costing less than 80c to post, parcel delivery has never had such regulation, nor freight. Completely absurd.

The road toll decline is as much to do with the car fleet becoming far younger due to the abolition of import tariffs, a concerted programme of targeting road blackspots, and the introduction of graduated driver licencing as it has to do with operational amalgamation of traffic policing.

Crime is the result of individuals choosing to infringe upon the rights of others, no the Police cannot change those factors, but they can target crimes with real victims. The Police prosecution of an adult couple for consensual incest is an example of something that should have been a very low priority. It has ruined the lives of people hurting no one, and although the Police can't choose to not enforce laws, they can prioritise.

I am sure tracking someone through a cell-phone would have been helpful, so would a DNA database of everyone, so would internal passports and checkpoints between cities. Doesn't mean it is right. You have no right to know anything about me, unless you have strong reason to suspect me of being a criminal.