A guest post by darroch ball of the Sensible Sentencing Trust:
Someone needs to stand up for our police force in the face of unbelievable allegations that they are racist.
The Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon has called police racist in response to the accusations that the tv show Police Ten/Seven was itself racist. Apparently, the show “feeds racial stereotypes” by showing more Maori and Pacific people being arrested. It is hard to describe just how lazy that logic is.
Just because there is an over-representation of one race in crime and arrest statistics doesn't automatically mean that the system is racist. In fact, it is quite dishonest to have a one-dimensional glance at the statistics and come to that sort of conclusion.
Using the logic that Meng Foon and other ‘wokesters' have the Police are clearly sexist too. How could they not be? Just look at the stats – 94% of all prisoners are male. The vast majority of those who are featured on Police Ten/Seven are male. With the New Zealand male population being just 49% this surely clearly shows “systemic sexism” in the justice system. That is the logic of the intellectually bereft. The reality is that just perhaps it's because males happen to have committed the crimes for which they are arrested, sentenced, and imprisoned.
Perhaps the problem that the likes of Meng Foon have is that the truth is too hard to swallow and the images they are seeing at the frontline are what police officers face every day. It is one thing for a throwaway line about racism to be topic of the day, but to start talking about racial quotas for police to adhere to is just dangerous. It is dangerous both for the safety of our community, and because it can only end up leading down a pathway of unwillingness to deal with reality. If we continue to accept that the entire reason why we have overrepresentation of Maori and Pacific people in our justice system is because the system is racist, we will never be able to address any of the true underlying reasons why that is. Not showing certain faces on a tv show, specifically having police not arrest certain people, or having certain people not go through court, or receive certain sentences, or be imprisoned, might make the stats look better but will not solve the problem.
For anybody to accuse the men and women on the frontline as being racist, both individually and as a collective, is as lazy as it is outrageous. I personally know frontline officers and the accusation that seems to be freely thrown around unchecked is simply insulting and not true.
There is no doubt there is overrepresentation of Maori and Pacific people in our crime statistics. There are a multitude of reasons for that overrepresentation – least of which is that the system is racist.
There is one definite bias that Police exhibit and one specific type of person that they purposefully target – people who commit crime. If we continue to weaken the ability, authority, and morale of Police by continually accusing them of being bias, it will simply lead to a more unsafe community.
Are there some individual police officers bias? Probably. But not the collective, not the system, and not the law. If people want to stop being arrested, they need to stop committing crime.
We should double the budget for the Police Ten/Seven show. Let's see more of what our communities are truly like and what the police have to deal with – whether we like what it looks like or not. Then maybe we can have an honest go at addressing what it is that is wrong.