Police need to do better

Stuff reports:

Senior did not closely watch a corrupt officer within their ranks after a woman accused him of indecency – because they knew nothing of her complaint.

Sources have told The Press that Gordon Stanley Meyer’s supervisors at Christchurch South police station were not told about the 2007 complaint until after his 2011 offending came to light.

Police National Headquarters said last night there were no “lawful grounds” to tell them about it.

This is bureaucratic nonsense. There may be no lawful grounds to discipline an officer over the earlier complaint, but that is very different from not noting it on his file, and ensuring his supervisors are aware of it.

The senior constable accepted an offer of oral sex to let a 23-year-old woman off a drink-driving charge in September 2011 and touched an 18-year-old’s breasts in a patrol car in April 2011.

After his guilty pleas, police revealed a woman made a complaint six years ago that Meyer indecently touched her in a public place, also while he was on duty.

Police investigated, but found there was insufficient evidence to prosecute or discipline Meyer.

Police Assistant Commissioner Grant Nicholls told Radio NZ that Meyer was not issued a warning over the 2007 complaint, nor was a monitoring programme put in place. “You would have thought he would have heeded the warning of the inquiry. Obviously he didn’t.”

You would have thought the Police would make a file note!

When asked why Meyer’s supervisors were not informed of the 2007 complaint, a police spokesman said: “Police are bound by the same laws as any other employer. In the absence of sufficient evidence in either the criminal or employment context police had no lawful grounds to take the measures … outlined.”

This is where the Police have it wrong. There is a difference between the level of proof needed to take action, and to inform supervisors.

The principal of the Northland school who didn’t tell anyone about the complaint about his deputy principal was castigated by everyone for his failure. The Police seem to be doing the same.

The 2007 Bazley report recommended that all relevant information to give a “complete picture of an officer’s full record of service” should be accessible to supervisors when making appointments, monitoring performance and investigating complaints.

A police spokesman said they had until 2017 to implement the recommendations.

They should get on with it.

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