Police and Traffic and Guns

December 10th, 2009 at 8:09 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New specialist traffic officers will be used to issue speeding tickets, freeing to concentrate on fighting crime. …

he new-look “transport enforcement officers” proposal will effectively be a return to the separate traffic control force that patrolled the country’s roads in black-and-white cars until the early 1990s.

Those officers were part of the Ministry of Transport; the new traffic officers will remain under the control of the police force.

On the face of it, the proposal by Commissioner Broad seems sensible. I don’t think the proposal is a reversal of the 1992 merger, as control remains with the Police. Before the merger the Police were having to assist the MOT more and more with stuff like drink driving blitzes, and the level of training for MOT officers was seen as inadequate for the powers they were gaining.

Police Commissioner Howard Broad yesterday said he was “quite uncomfortable” with fully sworn police being used for road policing, as they were often just “sitting there with their radar gun”.

He told Parliament’s law and order select committee he wanted to use laws that allowed him to designate traffic enforcement officers, and also make greater use of technology such as speed cameras for road policing.

The move would free police officers for other duties, such as neighbourhood policing, he said.

Again, this seems a good move.

Civilians are now used to operate speed camera vans, but using a radar gun requires a police officer with power to stop a vehicle.

Mr Broad said he could give these limited powers under the Policing Act’s “authorised officers” section, and some motorway support officers in Auckland were already operating under this designation.

I say go for it.

Mr Broad also revealed a proposal to end firearms training for officers unlikely to require it, but increase it for those most likely to find themselves in dangerous situations.

Under the proposal, 40 per cent of Auckland police would not be able to use firearms. They would be trained only in use of the baton and pepper spray.

A critical response unit would be established to deal with call-outs.

Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove said the proposal could create problems, such as a community constable not being able to respond to an armed robbery because he could not use firearms.

Mr Broad said officers with low-level firearms training were often more likely to be killed, and he asked if Mr Cosgrove wanted officers trained in “gunfight protocol”.

“The idea you send a community constable into these situations as if they are Wyatt Earp is complete nonsense.”

Mr Broad became heated when the Napier siege – in which Jan Molenaar shot one officer dead and seriously wounded two others – was raised.

“Those police officers who did go in there [to rescue the wounded] without firearms, went in on humanitarian grounds, and they recovered people,” he said.

“They did an extremely good job in an extremely courageous way. They did not need to have firearms to do that.”

Mr O’Connor said the firearms policy was “a recipe for disaster” that would leave the police “out-gunned”.

I’d be interested in the views of the Police Assn on the firearms proposal, but on the surface it also seems reasonable, considering long standing police (despite Clayton’s grand standing) is that the Police are not routinely armed.

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18 Responses to “Police and Traffic and Guns”

  1. Murray (8,842 comments) says:

    Some strange new concept of “new look” I was previously unacquainted with.

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  2. transmogrifier (522 comments) says:

    Heh, only in politics can “new look” actually mean “a return to what we did in the past, after forgetting why we even changed it in the first place”.

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  3. Pete George (23,331 comments) says:

    Who cares if it partially returns things to how they were, if they think it will improve the quality of policing and/or reduce costs they should try it. Structures and policies should be continually reviewed and adjusted to adapt to changing times and correcting things that don’t work as well as they could.

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  4. Michaels (1,318 comments) says:

    A damn good move I think. I wonder though will they be changing cars/signwrinting so we can spot the traffic cops?
    It was handy before as you could pass a “real” policeman with confidence of not being stopped.

    Does Cosgrove EVER think before his mouth opens? He sets himself up everytime to be shot down.

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  5. scanner (340 comments) says:

    Still the police ignore the facts, when you look over some of the road death figures from 2008 some things become glaringly obvious-
    1. 1 in 6 fatal accidents were caused by people who don’t care about any kind of rules, invariably men who drink, don’t wear seat-belts, have no license WOF or rego. These are the ones who will always manage to pass on yellow lines, they just don’t care.
    2. 44 Kiwis died in alcohol related crashes, 20 of them were Maori, not racism just fact, but disproportionate none the less.
    3. Of 34 motorcycle deaths 25 were the fault of the rider, and they wonder why ACC wants more money.
    4. Cellphones killed 2, one driver, and one who walked under a bus.

    So I fail to see how rebranding is going to solve any of the above problems, especially with the emphasis on quantity rather than quality with all these officers having a quota to meet.

    As much as police deny it there is bias in the current enforcement system, with the solo cop handing out tickets for 10 kph over the limit on the open road to the white male in the modern car on dry straight road and failing to notice the car load of bogans in the old shitter ignoring the road rules, one of these two will help with his quota the other is just going to blight his day.

    A drivers license is a privilege not a right, and those of us that don’t break the law shouldn’t live in fear of those that do, and I would be willing to lay money on the fact that the 1 in 6 mentioned above were already famous in the justice system.

    Rebranding will change nothing, a change in attitude from politicians and senior police will.

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  6. gravedodger (1,528 comments) says:

    Will the management of police review the skillset of the rather embarrasing, poor performing policemen who overnight became the real McCoy after many of the traffic cops suddenly policemen had failed to make the cut at police recruitment. Also they have a great chance to put some of the idiots that have surprisingly made the cut under todays enlightened recruitment policy, on traffic where they will struggle to do a satisfactory job. Nominations from the public could be a starting point.

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  7. GPT1 (2,106 comments) says:

    Firearms training for front line non AOS officers is appalling. Given a front line officer could, at any point, be handed a M-4 and a glock and told to protect the public and themselves from any number of threats training, including gun familiarity, should be a priority. As I understand it a great deal of the 8 hours every 3 months (or is it 6?) is taken up with theory rather than live fire due to cost (quite why police armourers can’t do reloads for training is beyond me). Familiarisation (taking the guns out and practicing ‘dry runs’) happens irregularly.

    In short police officers are potentially being asked to make a life or death decision with weapons that they are only vaguely familiar with. I don’t think it is any one’s interest for a police officer to be distracted by whether or not they took the safety off when trying to decide whether they have to shoot someone.

    Given we keep hearing that armed incidents are on the increase (and armed responses) the level of training is basically nothing short of negligent. Frankly you would struggle to be allowed out bunny shooting with us on that level of training.

    So whatever plan is put in place firearms training has to be increased for any officer who could end up with a gun.

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  8. Nefarious (533 comments) says:

    They’d do well by starting with basic literacy classes for pigs.

    Most of the tickets I’ve had have been so illegible and full of mistakes that my young daughter would be embarrassed to put her name to them.

    Most of these motherfuckers are just power tripping arsepieces that couldn’t get a job anywhere else, heard the “better work stories” ad on the radio and thought “ooh, they’ll pay me 50 grand a year to be a cunt in a uniform”.

    You only need to look at the fat piece of politically expedient shit at the top to get a true picture of the state of “law” enforcement in this cuntry.

    But I do think it is good that they are splitting them in to grade D and grade E keystone cops and taking their pea shooters away. At least fewer innocent people will get shot by power crazed heroes.

    “Protect our asses and serve the troughers agenda”.

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  9. scanner (340 comments) says:

    It’s one thing to provide an officer with a firearm, it’s a completely different scenario to fail to equip him with the training, and decision making skills to use it effectively.

    We, society have allowed the liberal looneys to control the system and set this system to fail these officers at the end of the day, when an officer does discharge a firearm we all run about like “headless hens” baying for blood, then the media line up a list of “experts” and we convict the cop for protecting us when we have half the story.

    Criminals today are armed more frequently than ever, by all means arm the police, but up skill them and back them up.

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  10. RRM (9,663 comments) says:

    “Grandstanding”? Sounds like he has a point to me:

    Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove said the proposal could create problems, such as a community constable not being able to respond to an armed robbery because he could not use firearms.

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  11. RRM (9,663 comments) says:

    Michaels: Highway patrol cars are white, blue and yellow. Regular police cars are white, blue and orange. This isn’t new!

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  12. Michaels (1,318 comments) says:

    RRM: Yes correct, they pretty much soley patrol the highways not so much suburban streets and nor are they a hugely different from a normal police car. I guess what I meant was will they go back to black and whites, or maybe blue with pink spots on them, something to clearly tell the difference.

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  13. eszett (2,374 comments) says:

    @ scanner.
    Where did you get those stats from?
    Just wondering if you can provide a link or source, I’d be interested

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  14. Jack5 (4,900 comments) says:

    Broad’s policy on firearms is ludicrous. Broad said of the police who rescued wounded at the Molenaar siege:

    “Those police officers who did go in there [to rescue the wounded] without firearms, went in on humanitarian grounds, and they recovered people…

    “They did an extremely good job in an extremely courageous way. They did not need to have firearms to do that.”

    If they had firearms they might either have been able to have a pop at Molenaar or at least force him to keep his head down from a firing spot to safeguard other police and the public.

    The police are already backing off confrontation with armed offenders as was shown in a recent case in the North Island with a woman hiding in a house and the police declining to come to her aid immediately.

    Broad by taking firearms training away from ordinary Plods is giving an arrogant “stuff you” to the public. Under Broad’s policy we’ll have to wait for help until speical squads assemble and arrive.

    Highly accurate pistol shooting of the competitive type, always single handed, is an art that takes much practice to attain and maintain. However, “point shooting” techniques as taught by Fairbairn and Applegate to World War 2 British commandos (and perhaps still taught to them) doesn’t require the same level of intense practice and can turn out extremely effective shooters. Training NZ police officers in this style and equipment them with a magnum revolver (for simplicity’s sake) would make them all forces to be reckoned with.

    Every police car should also have a rifle and a semi-automatic shotgun aboard as well.

    If Broad won’t let his men be equipped and trained to defend us, perhaps we should think about defending ourselves. Time to free up handgun ownership so we can look after ourselves, I think.

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  15. Jack5 (4,900 comments) says:

    Has Broad resiled somewhat from his position on traffic cops?

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/3146336/Broad-rejects-separate-traffic-police

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  16. simpleton (158 comments) says:

    Just what is a serious situation, when does it become serious. At night it can be so difficult to figure. Just a burglar? rustler? or drunken lost fool? armed? with what? fist? knife? iron bar? gun? or an honest citizen just ran out of gas.

    Normally I am 10 minutes from a local community police man. Not that I would expect him to put himself into a dangerous position. But at least he would be able to reconnoitor, and observe. Surely a gun in that situation would be logical if even for just his own self defence. I fear policy will be that he would not even be able to leave his station.

    If any thing is more serious I am probably half an hour away from their aid if the local is not on call, and “if” a few more vechicles do come then can contain and hopefully apprehend.

    It used to be that I would figure that if it was more serious I was at the most an hour and a half away.

    From recent cases I now figure that it may be at lest 3+ hours or more if there was a major problem as special squads assemble and arrive, then cordon and contain if they can correctly locate where the problem is. More than likely if I was on a cell phone and the police tying up the phone line the batteries would go flat.

    Probably the best bet is to call the local fire brigade, though I would not want to endanger them if some thing was really so serious. Offenders may be scared off as the siren can be distantly heard.

    To pay the local trucking company to “road block” at certain key positions is another idea with the drivers discreetly staying out of harm’s way.

    The point is to apprehend any offender though now I question just how quick the justice system will let them go free though that is another issue. As in the past the odds of getting away…., with good neighbours and plans in place it is known not to be a soft area in the past.

    Fortunately I have never had to figure anything, though within 5-10 kilometres incidents have occurred over the years.

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  17. black paul (124 comments) says:

    I’d be interested in the views of the Police Assn on the firearms proposal

    You quoted their spokesperson in the last paragraph of your cut-paste.

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  18. Sean (299 comments) says:

    I was an MoT officer for many years before and after the merger. I don’t recall the police “having to assist the MOT more and more with stuff like drink driving blitzes”. The reasons for the merger were fully canvassed at the time and were again reviewed several years later (I believe it was something to do with NZ First support for National). The reasons in both reports for one law enforcement agency are as valid now as they were then.

    Police forces all over the world do traffic enforcement as part of the role of ensuring public safety and neither the officers involved nor the public see anything “quite uncomfortable” in that. Some relatively simple research will show that traffic stops actually result in many criminals being detected. In parts of the world, particularly the US, traffic stops are in fact one of the more dangerous police activities. What happens when one of these new traffic officers with limited powers pulls over someone wanted for criminal offending? They will have to call a police officer to assist. How is that efficient? Two cars now tied up where one would have sufficed? That’s but one example to illustrate the point.

    This latest suggestion from the present commissioner stems from his inherent and well-known dislike of road traffic policing (he being one of those police officers that opposed the merger); and his budget constraint issues (like losing ten percent of his vehicle fleet – think these issues are unrelated??).

    What is needed is not a hugely expensive exercise in unwinding the clock but a) a police commissioner (and police force) for the 21st century and b) adequate funding.

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