Police appreciated in Cleveland

July 23rd, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

USA Today reports:

CLEVELAND — Sometimes they approach cautiously, other times full of confidence, with a smile and an outstretched hand.

“Thank you!”

“Thanks for your service.”

“We appreciate you.”

Despite their overwhelming numbers on the streets, police patrolling around the Republican National Convention here are being treated less like an occupying force and more like respected members of the community, no matter where they’re from. More than 2,000 officers from more than a dozen states are working in Cleveland this week, alongside local officers.

“I appreciate the work they do. Their lives are on the line at all times,” said 7-Eleven clerk Eddie Vernon, after shaking an officer’s hand near Public Square. “The officers really do appreciate it. They will almost break your hand shaking it, they appreciate it so much.”

Vernon, who is black, says he goes out of his way to show respect and appreciation for police officers. He’s all-too-aware of how many members of the black community feel about cops these days, he says.

Nice to see most protesters treating the officers who are doing their job with respect.

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said visitors — and even many protesters — have been thanking officers, which hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“The mood is good,’’ Williams said. “They are taking pictures with people. It’s been good.’’

Great.

And Wednesday afternoon, as officers broke up a flag-burning protest and pushed the crowd back onto the sidewalk, several Republican delegates and their guests loudly thanked the officers and broke out into “America The Beautiful.” That clash, which police say started when a flag burner accidentally lit himself on fire, turned chaotic as a total of 17 people were arrested and two officers suffered minor injuries.

Heh I’m sorry, but that is sort of funny.

Bryan Hambley, an organizer for the Stand Against Trump group, credited police with transforming the anxiety-ridden preparations for the convention into a largely peaceful convening so far, involving demonstrators of all stripes.

“The police are doing a great job, and the protesters are doing a great job,’’ Hambley said.

Protests are good. Protests that break the law are not. Those in Cleveland are doing it the right way.

 

Who makes the laws – Police or Parliament?

July 20th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A stoush is brewing between Wellington bar owners and police over lockout laws.

Bar owners around the Courtenay Place nightlife hub have accused police of trying to “force” a one-way door policy on the capital’s party precinct by objecting to every 4am licence renewal.

Hospitality New Zealand Wellington regional manager Dylan Firth said police had approached many licensees and indicated that, if they did not accept conditions, police would oppose the licence renewal, and the licensee would have to go to a hearing, racking up considerable legal costs.

More outrageous behaviour from the Police. Their submissions on licences should be focused on the track record and behaviour of the licensee, not on what hours they open.

The Police submitted to both Parliament and the local Council wanting an earlier closing time for bars. Their views were heard, and the democratically elected MPs and Councillors voted for a 4 am closing time.

But not content with this, the Police are effectively trying to bully bars into closing earlier, trying to have their licenses removed unless they comply. This is awful behaviour. Again the Police should only be submitting on how well the licensee complies with the law.

Police had made it clear they intended to seek a one-way door condition on each new on-licence application, and each on-licence renewal, in the Wellington CBD, he said.

A one-way door policy would stop anyone entering a bar after a set time, such as 2am or 3am. Those already inside at the cutoff time would be allowed to stay until the 4am closing time.

An issue which was again considered carefully by Parliament and the Wellington City Council. They heard all the evidence and decided that a one way door policy would cause more harm than good. But the Police know better than the law makers, so they use their special position to try and have their will imposed.

Nick Mills, whose family employs 160 people in its group of businesses including Bettys, Public, Hummingbird, Boston, Edison’s Superette, The Tasting Room and Spruce Goose, said Courtenay Place was nothing like it used to be, and a one-way door policy would be detrimental to business, as it had been in Sydney.

“No-one is thinking about the hundreds of workers who will have to start again when a business shuts.”

The legal battle to renew a licence for Siglo saw him spend eight times more than it would usually cost for a licence, he said.

“Places like Edison’s only open two nights a week, and paying for the legal fees for a licence would cost at least 50 per cent of its profit for a year. It’s ludicrous.”

He never had a problem with the police before, and thought of them as allies.

“I don’t think they should oppose [bar] owners trying to renew a licence when they have an exemplary history in the industry. They are trying to change the law by force.”

I think it is time for the Police to be hauled into line. If necessary the law should be changed, so the only issues they can submit on to licensing authorities is the track record of the licensee in obeying the law.

Mark Mitchell on NZ Police shootings

July 20th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Mark Mitchell wrote on Facebook:

Whilst a Police Officer in Rotorua my colleagues and I were confronted with a similar situation as the one Rotorua Police staff were confronted with yesterday. At the forefront of a Police Officers decision making process often while events are unfolding quickly is always Public safety. An offender armed with a machete and high on drugs could kill or inflict serious injury on an unsuspecting member of the Public very quickly. On the face of it the Officers involved acted quickly, professionally and with courage to ensure no member of the Public was killed or seriously injured.

In relation to the way our Media report these incidents. I acknowledge that headlines sell papers, but the type of headline like the one below is not helpful when considering the type of stress and tension we are currently witnessing in the U.S.

I am proud of our NZ Police service. Having trained and worked with Law Enforcement agency’s globally I have no doubt we have one of the best trained and most professional Police Services in the World.

In my own electorate of Rodney, when I don’t see them in a Police Uniform, I see them on school boards of trustees, administrating sports clubs, surf clubs, Lions clubs, volunteering at locals events, running programmes for youth In their own time, and just getting on and raising their family’s.

Their children, mothers, fathers, husbands wives , Friends and community’s deserve better than a headline like this.

The headline Mitchell was referring to was “Police ‘cold blooded killers’ – girlfriend”. Why they give such prominence to her views, when they are not backed by any evidence, is of course about selling papers or clickbait.

His post has gone viral, being shared 285 times and viewed around 100,000 times.

Five Police killed in Dallas

July 9th, 2016 at 6:59 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Five Dallas police officers were fatally shot and seven others wounded during a protest over the deaths of black men killed by police this week in Louisiana and Minnesota – the deadliest day for US law enforcement since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Police Chief David Brown blamed “snipers,” but it was unclear how many shooters were involved. Authorities initially said three suspects were in custody and a fourth dead, killed by a robot-delivered bomb in a parking garage where he had exchanged fire with officers.

Before dying, the police chief said, the suspect told officers he was upset about recent shootings and wanted to kill whites, “especially white officers.” The man also stated that he acted alone and was not affiliated with any groups, Brown said.

Many are upset over recent shootings, but what he has done is make such shootings more likely, not less. Plus five families have lost a family member, and will never recover.

Incredibly sad. If others were involved, hopefully they will be held accountable.

The alcohol work the Police need to do more of

June 29th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Police are frustrated at the number of licensed premises in Auckland’s suburbs selling alcohol to minors.

In a sting operation over the weekend, four of the six on-licence premises Auckland police targeted served alcohol to under-18s.

Auckland City Police Prevention Manager Inspector Gary Davey called the result “hugely disappointing”.

“These premises are ignoring their responsibilities under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act.”

The six bars were all in Auckland’s central suburbs, with several in Onehunga and Epsom.

One of the premises served alcohol to a 15-year-old who presented ID clearly showing their age, Inspector Davey said.

The result is similar to other recent sting operations in the Auckland City Police District.

One operation in March saw five out of seven bars serve alcohol to 16 and 17-year-olds.

In this area I think the Police do very good work. Bars need to be not just asking for ID, but checking it. If they don’t, then they should get sanctions.

I’d much rather the Police put more resources into enforcing the laws we have, rather than trying to change the law by insisting that certain types of alcohol should not be sold, or they’ll object to a licence.

Now Police want to ban new bars for six years!

June 19th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The smartphone footage shows them puffing up their chests and barging into each other. One of them shapes up to a woman in black shorts. He flattens her off her high-heels and she lands heavily head-first on the concrete.

In another video caught on CCTV a man falls over as he attempts a roundhouse kick. Another pummels his fists into him as he lies on the ground.

The two videos, taken two months apart, at roughly the same spot on Auckland city’s Fort St, show the moment tensions spill over into late-night brawls that end with multiple people in hospital, or facing criminal charges – or both.

For police, the videos give them two new pieces of evidence in their argument for tougher restrictions on when people should be able to drink in the city.

They are mounting a case for a six-year ban on all new bars and bottle shops in Auckland’s CBD, as well as a 1am one-way door policy and a 3am close.

This is just unbelievable. The Police in Auckland advocate a six year ban on new bars or bottle shops, and their “rationale” is a video of a couple of fights.

The Police are losing all perspective on alcohol. Why don’t they go the whole hog and demand 6 pm closing comes back?

Inspector Gary Davey says it boils down to a “moth to the flame” argument. The more bars, the more violence. The longer bars are open, the greater the chance of ugly episodes flaring up.

The more sporting fixtures a city has, the more violence. Let’s ban rugby matches. Also the more men that go out at night, the more rapes occur. Let’s have a curfew of 8 pm for men.

Huge Police fail

June 18th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A police officer who left a loaded gun in a bathroom at Parliament will doing “a lot of soul-searching” and could face up to three investigations, a security specialist once responsible for guarding prime ministers says.

Police are investigating how a loaded Glock pistol was left behind in a Parliament bathroom on Thursday.

The gun was recovered by police after they became aware it was there.

In a statement, police said: “As soon as police were made aware that the firearm had been left in the bathroom, staff attended and recovered it from the occupant, and we would like to thank them for their assistance.

“This was a regrettable incident that we are taking seriously, and we acknowledge the potential risk that this could have posed.”

The statement says police have started an investigation into the incident, and would not comment further while they were looking into the matter.

Police have not confirmed who owned the firearm, but police staff most commonly seen around Parliament are members of the Prime Minister’s diplomatic protection service, who are routinely armed.

This is a huge fail by the officer concerned. Everyone makes mistakes and can leave something behind – but a loaded gun in a toilet is another matter.

A huge amount of money is spent on keeping Parliament secure with x-ray machines etc, and to just have a loaded gun sitting in a bathroom is negligent. A small redeeming factor is that the bathroom was probably not one accessible by the public.

Security specialist Lance Burdett, who used to run an Auckland-based VIP protection squad responsible for looking after prime ministers, said the breach was “the worst thing you can do, absolutely”.

“He or she is highly trained, and that’s the first thing you train is never let it [your gun] out of your sight.

“Out on the course, you wear it the whole time… it is never to leave your side so you get used to not leaving it behind and always having it with you.”

Burdett said firearm holsters were often worn on the hip, and it had likely been taken off to use the toilet, then left behind out of “absent-mindedness”.

My guess also.

If the staff member was part of the DPS, they would almost certainly lose their job, while they could face dismissal from the police force entirely.

They would be doing “a lot of soul-searching” while the investigations were underway, Burdett said.

“Whatever repercussions are for the person that’s left it there, they themselves will be putting themselves through more hoops than anyone else ever could.”

SACKING NOT NEEDED – LABOUR

Labour’s police spokesman Stuart Nash didn’t want to see the person responsible fired, instead a written warning should be issued.

“It’s a serious breach but this person is never going to leave their firearm alone again and nothing bad has come from it.”

On this, I agree with Stuart Nash. A decision for Police of course, but from what I know of DPS officers, he or she will be absolutely aghast at their mistake. Also they will probably be “hassled” about it for some years by their colleagues. A severe bollocking should occur, but not a firing.

Claims over Police shooting

June 12th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reported:

The grieving family of a man shot dead by police in the Karangahake Gorge near Paeroa want an independent inquiry into what they describe as a “cold-blooded execution”.

Mike Taylor was shot on Friday morning by police who were responding to a call from his long-time partner, Natalie Avery.

Avery and her children, Carlin, 21, and Amy, 14, say there was no need for police to shoot Taylor, as he had thrown his weapons and was walking away.

They claim he put his hands in the air as he’d been instructed to do and was kneeling down when he was shot.. …

“He threw the slasher – it had no handle – over the top of the police car and he smashed the passenger window with the machete and then he walked away.

“He would have been at least 20 metres from the police car, hands up, bowed his knees and from there they shot him … through the heart from behind. It was cold blooded.”

All Police shootings are fully investigating by the IPCA. But this seems a pretty simple case, as the forensic evidence will be very clear as to whether or not he was shot from behind.

The Herald reports:

Police say a man shot dead in Paeroa yesterday was shot in the torso, not in the back as his partner claims. …

Acting Assistant Commissioner Bruce Bird said as Mr Taylor approached police armed with a machete, a number of shots were fired from the front seat of the patrol car at short range.

If you approach armed police with a machete and refuse to put it down, then you will get tasered or shot.

Avery said she and Taylor had been having an ongoing dispute with Hauraki District Council and police over access to the roadway. 

“I knew it [the shooting] was going to happen some day,” Avery said.   

Residents said Taylor had terrorised his small community, threatening and intimidating people who crossed near the property on their walks.

They said he claimed the land, which overlooks the Karangahake River, was his land, even though it was a public road.

He ended up in court on numerous occasions for threatening behaviour and offensive language.

On one occasion he was charged with trying to run down an elderly man and his daughter, who were on a walk.

“He’s threatened everybody in the neighbourhood,” a local woman said. “It’s a wonder somebody else hasn’t been shot.”

Taylor was engaged in a long-running battle over the erection of some gates across the public road, which he would put back up every time the Hauraki District Council took them down. 

“The gates were taken down in the presence of police because the council workers were so scared to go up there on their own because of the history of this bloke,” a second man said. “He was arrogant and brutal, with the foulest mouth.

“People would take their dog for a walk and he would say, I’ll kill your dog.”

It sounds like the way this ended was somewhat inevitable, based on his past behaviour.  He’d been terrorising people for years, but made the mistake of trying the same with armed Police.

Police arguing against their own data

May 30th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Controversy over bar trading hours has polarised authorities, with police contesting Auckland Council’s provisional Local Alcohol Policy.

The two authorities are fighting over the time bars should be shut to best prevent alcohol-related brawls.

The argument has come down to one hour that they can’t agree on. A lot can happen in 60 minutes.

Both sides cite contradictory research and statistics to back up their arguments.

A 2013 law change limited the latest closing hour of bars to 4am and handed over the power to councils to enforce earlier closing times and one-way door policies within their own jurisdictions.

Since then, 20 councils have delivered provisional alcohol policies that are now under appeal.

The Auckland Council has proposed closing bars in the city centre at 4am, and a 3am curfew for suburban bars.

The council justified its position by saying closing city-centre bars any earlier would result in a mass exodus of punters at the same time, likely increasing violence.

Police say the council’s argument is “just wrong” and want to see suburban bars close by 1am and city-centre bars shut by 3am – with a 1am one-way door policy – to reduce the consumption of alcohol and, in turn, the fights.

However, police data obtained by the Herald on Sunday under the Official Information Act shows violent disorder offences, often linked to alcohol intake, have decreased consistently over the past nine years – from 3569 in 2007 to 2541 last year – in the Auckland Central area.

That is around a 30% decrease.  So on average there are eight offences a night, for a city of 1.4 million people.

Davey says the council must decide whether it’s more important to keep bars open an hour later to appease the alcohol and hospitality industries or to close them earlier and reduce the levels of harm.

Inspector Davey is sounding like a wild eyed lobbyist rather than a rational public servant.

He thinks the only interests served by having bars open later are the alcohol and hospitality industries.

No. The tens of thousands of Aucklanders who like to be able to go into town around midnight and drink and dance for a few hours. Of whom, the vast majority have a good time and don’t hurt themselves or anyone else.

But, Davey counters that reducing the availability of alcohol by even one hour would prevent “some of the needless death, serious injury and violence”.

I’m sure it would. But that is an argument to also go back to 6pm closing. It is about the balance.

Sort of funny

April 28th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Sergeant Cameron Browne told the authority that, when he entered the bar with police last month, Andrews was at the DJ booth.

“He used the PA system to tell patrons that the police officers were not real, they were in fact strippers,” Browne said.

“He encouraged patrons to pay police $20 to strip, and continued to encourage patrons to taunt police until the compliance was complete.”

Heh, I find that pretty funny actually.

The officers also testified to often finding intoxicated people in the bar. Some reported seeing drunk people leaving through an upstairs window. 

Thom said he assessed two drunk women, barely able to stand, in the bar who “were among the worse I have seen in some time”. 

Based on serving drunken patrons, it is possible the bar should lose their licence – but not for joking the Police are strippers.

The challenge is determining if they were served at this bar while drunk, or whether they drank elsewhere and then came to Ruby Rabbit.

Rent it out to the Police Museum

April 26th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The future of New Zealand’s oldest purpose-built police station is in the hands of Wellingtonians.

A local couple are the proud new owners of the heritage Mt Cook police barracks in Buckle St. …

The Buckle St, category A heritage listed commercial premises, was built in 1894 by prisoners. It was home to The Dominion Museum and National Art Gallery until the completion of Te Papa in the late 1990s.

The building, at the base of the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, is currently tenanted to several small companies on short-term leases.

Bayleys Wellington salesman James Higgie, who is marketing the building for sale by tender, said the new owners, from Wellington, had no immediate plans for the building.

As I blogged previously, this building would be ideal for the Police Museum – the oldest police station in NZ, and right in the middle of the Pukeahu heritage area. A memorial to fallen police officers would fit the nature of the area perfectly.

The current Police Museum (at the Police College) gets around 7,500 visitors a year (from last published stats). Move it to Buckle Street as a tenant, and I reckon you’d get at least ten times as many visitors.

Collins vs Goff

April 22nd, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Police Minister Judith Collins and the police have spoken out against claims that community stations in Auckland and the rest of the country will close, saying that is incorrect.

 NZME had reported that sources within NZ Police had claimed there are plans for the 16 to at least temporarily shut their doors and that some may never re-open.

According to NZME, information provided by independent sources and also by Labour MP and Auckland Mayoral candidate Phil Goff claimed that “police may be under pressure to reduce their footprint and under pressure to close stations”.

Interesting that Goff has been using his parliamentary role to help his campaign by asking numerous parliamentary written questions on Auckland issues.

Collins quickly responded, saying that she was “really disappointed that Phil Goff is touting a false story to the media against New Zealand police”. …

Police  have denied the community station closure saying  that a new set of infrastructure design features are being introduced for safety measures at police front counters.

The new features are designed to deal with the most likely threats at publicly accessible police premises.

“Our review of existing infrastructure has highlighted a number of premises where more immediate practical steps are needed to increase security.  There are 105 stations we have identified in this category around New Zealand,” said Acting Assistant Commissioner District Operations, Bruce Bird.

“In some of these stations, one of the options may be to limit public access at times when constabulary staff are on the premises.

“This does not mean the stations will permanently close, but the public access at some stations may be, as an interim measure, restricted to those times when a constabulary/authorised officer is available to work at the front counter.”

So Goff is attacking the Police for making their staff safer and more secure from attack.

Police crime rate massively low

March 31st, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Police officers were convicted of 52 offences over the past three years after they committed crimes ranging from speeding to drug-dealing and corruption.

Figures released by police under the Official Information Act reveal 11 sworn officers were convicted on 13 charges last year. There were 19 convictions recorded in 2014 and 20 in 2013.

The ideal number is of course zero, but is 13 convictions a year a high level or a low level? Are the Police as law breaking as the rest of the community? You would hope not. So what is the answer?

Well in the overall population there were 68,446 people convicted last year out of an adult population of around 3.5 million.

So the offending rate is around 19.6 per 1,000 people.

11 Police officers were convicted out of 9,048 sworn officers.

That is a Police offending rate of 1.4 per 1,000 officers.

So a Police officer is just 1/13th as likely to break the law.

Move the Police Museum to Buckle Street?

March 23rd, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand’s oldest purpose-built police station is up for sale.

It is the first time the historic Wellington landmark, with a Rateable Value (RV) of $1.5 million, has been placed on the open market

The Buckle St, category A heritage listed commercial premises, was built in 1894 by prisoners. It was home to The Dominion Museum and National Art Gallery until the completion of Te Papa in the late 1990s.

Why not make it the home of the Police Museum? No one ever visits the Museum at the current site in the Police College.

You could have a memorial to fallen police officers there, which would fit in with the other memorials next door.

In that venue, it would get huge number of visitors.

The Police should look at this. Would be fantastic to have the Police Museum get more profile and visits.

You can’t give gunman potential hostages

March 10th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The mother of a man suspected of shooting four police officers in the Bay of Plenty is pleading with police to let family bring him out of the Kawerau house where he remains holed up.

The woman says her son, who Stuff has chosen not to name, is terrified of surrendering, but he is prepared to give himself up, if his family can accompany him.

The suspected gunman has been keeping in touch with whanau and friends by text message and social media from inside the house on Onepu Springs Road.

He has shot four people already. Why risk giving him hostages? He has a simple choice – surrender and not be shot, or don’t surrender and eventually risk being shot.

She said her son wanted he to come out freely, but was terrified of being sent to prison. She was also concerned about his safety.

So actually his concern is being arrested, not safety. That is her concern. Definitely you don’t give him potential hostages. The moment others are in the house, the ability of the Police to end the stand off is greatly reduced.

And if he was terrified of being sent to prison, he shouldn’t have shot four police officers. He also should choose a better career than drug dealer also.

“It’s just heartbreaking. We’re trying to help the police to diffuse the situation and they are not even listening to the whanau.”

Sad to see them blaming the Police, not him. The best way they can help is to persuade him to surrender.

He had been in trouble with the law previously, she said, but not for some time.

This week? This month?

My thoughts are with the four wounded officers, their families, friends and colleagues. And most of all with the Police at the scene who may have to risk their lives to bring this criminal to justice.

UPDATE: He has surrendered.

Police bullying supermarkets

December 16th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Do Wellingtonians really need to be able to buy alcohol after 10pm?

That question was posed on Monday at the first half of a liquor licence hearing for Pak ‘n Save Kilbirnie, where there were also suggestions the supermarket should take some responsibility for alcohol-related incidents in the suburb.

Police and the Regional Medical Officer of Health are both putting the heat on Pak ‘n Save to peg back the number of hours it sells alcohol, which is currently between 7am and 11pm.

Police want the hours cut-off at 10pm. But Pak ‘n Save argues that would be unfair given the Countdown supermarket across the road and near-by off-licences would not be subject to the same restrictions.

Once again the Police are trying to set policy. The City Council, under the law, sets maximum hours for off-licenses. But the Police tries to bully supermarkets into different hours.

Pak ‘n Save owner-operator Dean Galt said any restrictions would simply send those looking for alcohol across the road to Countdown Kilbirnie, which had a 7am till 11pm licence, and they would likely do the rest of their grocery shopping there as well.

“Unless everyone is on the same page, no, it’s not going to change the problem,” he said.

“It’s about convenience. If we don’t offer the customers what they want, they will go elsewhere for the whole shop.”

Sergeant Damian Rapira-Davies, of Wellington Police, put it to Galt that most people buying alcohol after 10pm were not buying large amounts of groceries as well, so the supermarket would not be losing that much business.

The Police are wrong, and they are basically making stuff up. I’ve done work in this area and the vast majority of people buying alcohol from a supermarket late at night (or early morning) are buying groceries also. And further they are ot buying alcohol to drink that night, just as part of their regular shopping.

But Galt disagreed and pointed to sales figures he said showed the proportion of groceries sold after 10pm was much larger than its alcohol sales.

The Police should argue on the basis of evidence, not personal preference.

Pak ‘n Save Kilbirnie was banned from selling alcohol for five days in June after allowing a pair of 16-year-old boys to buy booze.

But police said the supermarket was otherwise responsible and if it agreed to the 10pm close-off time then the police would remove its objection to the licence renewal.

This is how the Police operate – agree to our terms or we’ll object to your licence. It’s a form of legalised blackmail.

Rapira-Davies said the supermarket needed to take some responsibility for the alcohol-related harm in the Kilbirnie area.

“It’s our experience that people purchasing alcohol late at night are intending to consume it later that night,” he said.

From bottle stores yes, from supermarkets no. The majority are buying it with their weekly groceries to consume later.

“A proportion of the alcohol harm pictures needs to be recognised as belonging to the applicant … the largest volume [in the area] is sold by this licensee.

None of the alcohol harm belongs to the applicant. It belongs to those who do the harm. The applicant’s responsibility is to act within the law, not sell to minors or intoxicated persons.

“It’s not unreasonable for us to have formed that view.”

Actually it is. It is like blaming banks for people who take out cash and spend it on the pokies. The Police in Wellington constantly bully supermarkets.

Police back down

December 2nd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Police have apologised to “censored” gang researcher Dr Jarrod Gilbert after he was deemed unfit to conduct research and banned from accessing basic police data due to his gang links.

In a statement issued on Monday Police strategy deputy chief executive Mark Evans said matters raised by Gilbert in relation to a research application made by the company Independent Research Solutions in 2014 had been reviewed.

Gilbert spent a decade researching gangs for his book, Patched: the history of gangs in New Zealand. The book was partly based on research but also on ingratiating himself with criminals.

His only association with gangs was for research and he had not done anything he could be charged for, he said.

Evans confirmed Gilbert’s research project was approved in late 2014 and Police provided all information requested by the research team in July 2015. 

Other members of Gilbert’s team were cleared by Police vetting and Evans said Police accepted a mistake was made when the nature of Gilbert’s research proposal was not fully taken into account, and the reason that his links to gangs were likely to show up.

“I have now written to Dr. Gilbert explaining the Police position and confirming there are no issues with him having access to the requested data for this project following further consideration of all the circumstances,” Evans said.

As a result Police are amending guidelines around vetting of researchers, including high-level oversight and more detailed case-by-case consideration on vetting checks on researchers which are negative.

Police will also update the research agreement and remove any language that may be interpreted as restricting the independence of academic research.

Very pleased they are changing their contracts which gave Police a veto over any research findings that required their co-operation, and also that common sense has won out in distinguishing between a gang associate, and someone who associated with gangs for the purpose of academic research.

As I said previously, I actually think all government datasets should by default be available in machine readable format to the public, less any private information that could identify individuals.

The Heather du Plessis-Allan Police investigation

December 2nd, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A police search of journalist Heather du Plessis-Allan’s home has been criticised by MPs as a waste of resources and an example of the force’s “tunnel-visioned approach”.

MPs generally should keep out of Police operational issues.

Du-Plessis Allan’s husband, broadcaster Barry Soper, says the police investigation over her gun story is like “taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut”. 

Soper said he was warned by police on Monday afternoon they had a search warrant for the couple’s Wellington apartment.

Three officers turned up at 8am on Tuesday, and searched the dining room and two bedrooms, rifling through bedside cabinets and a large chest of drawers, including a receipt drawer.

Du Plessis-Allan was in Auckland, where she is based during the week for work, but police had not searched that property.

Police flew down from Auckland to search the Wellington property.

Soper said: “It would seem an overreaction to what was obviously a real problem and nobody can tell us at the moment how many guns are out there in New Zealand without a licence. This [story] was all about gun control and not allowing guns to be in the hands of the wrong people.”

What he found most extraordinary was police had since closed the loophole under which du Plessis-Allan had bought the gun online.

“I did make the point to the cops at one stage who were in the apartment that surely they could be the authors of their own misfortune in all of this because do they want more guns in circulation? And the detective senior sergeant turned to me and said ‘no comment’.”

It was worrying that his wife could be charged “but the fact is that the story was done in the full knowledge that there could have been repercussions I believe”.

MediaWorks chief executive Mark Weldon said: “The police are doing their job in the course of their investigations and that is perfectly normal.”

He said Mediaworks, which owns TV3, stood by the Story team “and their focus on the flaw in the mail order gun system that allowed people to buy guns without valid firearms licences”.

“It was an important piece of journalism and it has resulted in immediate changes to the rules around the mail order system which have now addressed that serious flaw.

“The public interest has clearly been served by the spotlight the Story team have put on this issue.”

My thoughts are this:

  1. The story was in the public interest. It showed a significant loophole in how the law was being enforced. You should not be able to get a gun delivered to you in the mail by putting down some fake details.
  2. There is no doubt Heather DPA broke the law in pursuing the story. She knew this.
  3. I don’t see why the Police need to execute search warrants, let alone fly three Police officers down to Wellington. HDPA admitted on air what she did. She showed the forms. They don’t need a sample of her handwriting – she stated on air she signed the form!!
  4. The only thing the Police need to do is decide whether it is in the public interest to prosecute HDPA. I don’t think it is as her story was in the public interest, and probably could not have been done without filling in false details on a form. There was no personal gain for her and no threat to safety.

UPDATE: A former Judge has agreed with me that there was no need for the search warrant – they could have just asked for a handwriting sample

Police censorship

November 25th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Jarrod Gilbert writes in the Herald:

Sitting in front of me is a 20-page document. It’s my police file. It doesn’t say much, because 17 of those pages are completely blacked out.

I requested my file because I’ve been deemed by the police to be unfit to conduct research – I’ve been banned from accessing basic and uncontroversial police data. As an academic who studies crime, this is rather crippling. It’s also a staggering abuse of power.

The police have deemed me unfit because of my “association with gangs”. This association won’t surprise many people: I did New Zealand’s largest ever study of gangs. It was long, exhausting and sometimes dangerous work, but it was worth it. The research culminated in an award-winning book, and academic publications all around the world.

To get my results I used – in part – an ethnographic method; in other words I hung out with the gangs.

I have been deemed unfit to undertake crime research because I know criminals through studying crime. Bloody hell.

This is ludicrous.

Famous economist Steven Levitt once did research on the economics of drug dealing for his book Freakonomics with Stephen Dubner. That involved spending time with gangs and drug dealers. Would the NZ Police also regard Steven Levitt as unfit to conduct research?

And a 20 page file on an academic? Sure if he has spent time with gangs as part of his research, I would expect some incidental notes about him, but 20 pages?

This Kafkaesque nightmare began when I was leading five researchers (all but one have PhDs and two are full professors) who were working for a large government agency wanting to investigate alcohol-related harms. Part of this project required some basic crime data from the police. It was then that I discovered the lengths police are going to to control research. This is not simply through excluding academics, as they did me, but through contracts that have to be signed to gain basic information. In our case legal opinions suggest that it should be available to any person who asks for it under the Official Information Act.

I would go further. I think all government data, by default, should be publicly available in machine readable format. Obviously personal details should not be included, but I’d love to see the criminal sector databases on convictions, sentencing, rehabilitation etc publicly available so NGOs, researchers and even companies can analyse the data and look for trends, correlations, possible causative factors etc.

The degree of control the police sought over research findings and publications was more than trifling. The research contracts demand that a draft report be provided to police. If the results are deemed to be “negative” then the police will seek to “improve its outcomes”. Both the intent and the language would have impressed George Orwell.

Researchers unprepared to yield and make changes face a clause stating the police “retain the sole right to veto any findings from release”. In other words, if an academic study said something the police didn’t like – or heaven forbid was in any way critical of the police – then the police could stop it being published.

Outrageous. This is not Police private data – this is Government data funded by taxpayers.

These demands were supported by threats. The contracts state that police will “blacklist” the researchers and “any organisations connected to the project … from access to any further police resources” if they don’t abide by police wishes.

Sigh.

After seeking information from the police about their sinister research contracts and to understand why I am banned, I am little the wiser. I have been told the decision to ban me is being reviewed. What I do know is that in an open democracy that puts such a high currency on free speech, the police should not be seeking to muzzle legitimate academic inquiry.

The Police should remove the ban on Dr Gilbert, and change their contracts. It is far enough to perhaps have a clause requiring them to see a draft of any research so they can critique it, but there should be no right of veto.

And further the Government should look at getting this data out of the exclusive control of state agencies, and into the public domain. If (for example) both the Sensible Sentencing Trust and JustSpeak could access criminal and corrections databases, then I’m sure we’d end up with better debate and understanding of criminal justice policies.

It took an OIA request and many months to discover that since the three strikes law came into force, the reoffending rate for strike offences has dropped 62% or so. That shouldn’t require an OIA request. Researchers should be able to find this out for themselves at any time.

Is Heather going to jail?

October 22nd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

TV3 reporter Heather du Plessis-Allan has found herself in the midst of a police investigation after illegally buying a gun for her current affairs show.

Auckland City Police has announced it has opened a criminal investigation into the purchase of the gun over the internet.

The purchase was made by the TV3 reporter for a piece on current affairs show Story, due to air on Wednesday night. 

In a statement released on Wednesday evening, a police spokeswoman did not name du Plessis-Allan but said police would not rule out charging the woman who bought the gun. 

The police investigation stemmed from a report “from a woman alleging that false details had been used to fraudulently obtain a firearm via an online dealer”, the police statement said.

“For anyone to possess a firearm without having the necessary license is a criminal offence and, if proven in court, could result in a sentence of up to three months’ imprisonment or a fine of up to $1000.

I doubt any prosecution would succeed as it was done to highlight the system was not working. But there may be consequences for signing a document with false details.

“Charges for obtaining by deception, if proven, carries penalties ranging from three months imprisonment up to seven years imprisonment depending on the value of the item obtained.”

The Police are embarrassed that Heather showed up the flaws in their system. They should fix the system rather than go on a vendetta.

Well done NZ Police

October 13th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Police have announced:

A 60 year-old Auckland businessman has been charged in connection with the criminal blackmail threat to poison infant formula with 1080, made public in March this year.

This follows the execution of five search warrants in Auckland and the Rangitikei district this morning.

He has been charged with 2 counts of Blackmail, each charge relating to the threat letters sent to Fonterra and Federated Farmers in November 2014.

Blackmail is punishable by a sentence of up to 14 years imprisonment.

The accused will appear in the Manukau District Court this afternoon.

Great work to identify them and make an arrest.

Hopefully they will not get name suppression. It will be interesting, if they do not, to learn about their background and assumed motives.

Maybe they should have tasered him, not pepper sprayed him?

September 13th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Police have apologised for pepper-spraying a schoolgirl in the face while trying to arrest her father. …

Bay of Plenty district commander superintendent Andy McGregor said the girl was “accidently contaminated with pepper spray” just after 5.30pm – and blamed her father Jack “Blu” Kira, who he said violently resisted arrest.

“We’re sorry for the obvious distress and pain this would have caused the girl during the incident and are pleased she is okay,” he said.

“However, had it not been for the actions of the man involved, officers would not have had to use pepper spray.”

The spraying happened during a routine traffic stop. Police said Kira refused to give his details and tried to drive off.

The officer attempted to remove the keys but his arm was trapped when the man allegedly wound up the window.

“As the officer pulled his arm free, the window broke, causing minor cuts. Unfortunately during the arrest, a girl who was in the car with the man was accidentally contaminated by some of the spray.

“It is also sad that she is an innocent victim who has had to witness this incident, which could have been completely avoided.”

A police spokesman said the man was now facing two charges of aggravated assault, and one charge each of failing to stop, and giving false details.

 

I’d say the responsibility is 99% the father’s.

I’d give 1% responsibility to the Police as with hindsight it would have been better if they tasered the father, instead of pepper sprayed him, as that doesn’t affect others in the car.

More activism with no evidence

August 18th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New figures collected by Regional Public Health suggests benefits from pushing back the cut-off time for selling alcohol to 4am has worn off, with binge-drinkers – university students in particular – back to their old habits.

In other words, as predicted, the change of closing times didn’t work. But instead of admitting this, they claim try more of the same.

Police and Regional Public Health began experimenting in January with supporting new bottle stores in the CBD if they agree to restrict their operating hours and sell “premium” liquor only.

Since then, four licences have been granted to new bottle stores that agree not to sell the cheap stuff, while another existing bottle store has pegged back its hours and promised to deal only in high-quality booze.

Stephen Palmer, a Wellington region medical officer of health, said another bottle store in Cuba St was being encouraged to go down the same path.

The aim was not to run mainstream beer out of town, but to reduce its availability and “nudge” the public towards drinking smaller amounts of more expensive beer and wine, he said.

Palmer put Tui, Lion Red, DB Draught and Heineken in the mainstream category, while the likes of Tuatara and Moa were more at the craft beer end of the spectrum.

This is outrageous. The Police and health officials are now trying to dictate what brands of beer can be sold. I’m a fan of craft beer, but to say you’ll only support granting an alcohol licence to outlets that only stock craft beer is taxpayer funded activism which goes well beyond their statutory role.

Police and Regional Public Health were now opposing all liquor licence applications for “mainstream” bottle stores, he said.

So the NZ Police now want to decide what brands of beer are okay to sell. The Minister should bash the Commissioner ears and warn him that public confidence in the Police will decline, if they continue this social activism.

Fewer retailers and bars selling booze to minors

August 15th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The number of people appearing before the courts for selling alcohol to minors halved between 2012 and 2014, despite an increase in police stings.

Police figures show 82 people were prosecuted for selling alcohol to minors at on and off-licences New Zealand wide in 2012 operations and 81 in 2013. In 2014 that figure nearly halved to 42. …

Police carried out 2839 controlled purchase operations in 2012 and caught 258 premises selling alcohol to minors. In 2013 they carried out 2771 and caught 232. In 2014 they carried out 3013 and caught 224.

So the strike rate in 2012 was 9.1%, in 2013 it was 8.4% and in 2014 it was 7.4%.

Hopefully this means that bars and retailers are being more stringent in checking for ID.

All cops to get tasers

July 31st, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

All frontline police response staff will now routinely carry tasers.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush announced the new initiative from Police Headquarters in Wellington this morning, saying the change was about enhancing the safety of New Zealand communities and police staff.

The initiative meant tasers could be carried by appropriately trained staff at all times while they were on duty.

Those staff were level one trained police staff, the majority of who were frontline police staff, Mr Bush said.

There are approximately 5500 police staff trained as level one responders, Mr Bush said.

Currently, these staff could access tasers from a lockbox in frontline police vehicles if required.

Mr Bush said the decision to role out tasers to all frontline police staff was made following detailed research, which showed the taser was successful in de-escalating violent situations.

“The reality is that police officers often enter into high risk situations.

If you don’t want our Police to be routinely armed, then you should support this.

If an offender has a knife, then it is very dangerous for a police officer to try and take them on with a baton or even something like capsicum spray. So without tasers, you need a gun.

Steven Wallace was shot as he was on a rampage with a baseball bat. If Police had tasers back then, he might be alive.

The Police published the results of three years of taser use in 2013.

  • Tasers were displayed in only 35 out of every 10,000 apprehensions and used in only 5 out of 10,000 apprehensions
  • Tasers only have to be used once in eight times they are displayed. Seven in eight times the display of it incentivises the offender to surrender
  • Only 1% of taser events (includes just displaying) resulted in injury to offenders