O’Connor retiring

The Herald reports:

Long-standing president Greg O’Connor will stand down from the top position, saying returning to a “beat cop” again is an option when his term expires next year.

Mr O’Connor’s announcement at the Police Association Conference in Wellington this afternoon was the first public confirmation of his plans.

Greg has been a very effective president for the Police Association. In fact more than once people have said he is better at defeeding what Police have done that the Police Commissioner.

Reflecting on the past 20 years, Mr O’Connor said one of the worst moments of his presidency was witnessing the treatment of the police officer who shot Waitara man Steven Wallace in 2000.

The policeman, Keith Abbott, faced a private prosecution for murder.

Mr O’Connor described Mr Abbott as “a truly innocent man who just did what was expected of him”.

It was painful for him to watch Mr Abbott publicly vilified, Mr O’Connor said.

Mr Wallace’s family brought a private prosecution against the officer, but he was acquitted after a trial.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) also cleared Mr Abbott, eight years and eleven months after the shooting.

That was appalling. As I said in 2009:

I have always been amazed that there has been any controversy over the shooting of . I’ve criticised the cops on many occasions, but not for shooting a guy who is trying to kill them.  If armed cops tell you to drop your baseball bat, and you not only refuse but you keep advancing on the officer proclaiming you are going to kill him – well I call it suicide by cop. He even continued to advance after they fired a warning shot .

Back to O’Connor:

Mr O’Connor said he still believed New Zealand had one of the world’s best police forces.

This was because it was a cohesive, national force, and the product of a society that was both non-corrupt and “nimble” or highly efficient, he said.

Being a national force is a big part of that.

He was sometimes aghast when people told him New Zealand ought to look abroad, such as to the USA, for better policing models, he said.

“People moan about MPs travelling. Every MP should travel every year, just to see how bad things are overseas, so they don’t make stupid decisions here that are ruining the things that make New Zealand good.”

Not a bad idea.

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