from ‘Safer Communities Together’ to Instruments of State Oppression

by Geoffrey Churchman

Although unbridled power cleared the parliament grounds on Ash Wednesday, stole or destroyed people’s property as well as viciously beat dozens of them, the massive discontent caused by this prime minister and her politicized police force will remain until she and Coster leave office, preferably by resigning now.

But a bigger question is what will it take for confidence in the severely tarnished image of police to return? Obviously those guilty of committing grevious bodily harm out of sheer sadistic pleasure — and there are plenty in that category — as well as theft and vandalism need to be prosecuted and punished.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority or IPCA will now be flooded with complaints from the past month supported by many hundreds — probably thousands — of hours of recorded video, much of it live streamed, and the sheer volume will mean it has to deal with much more than it is capable of handling.

But a properly established, resourced and fully independent Royal Commission can achieve this. As well as the orders given by The Mallard, Ardern, Coster and Parnell and the briefing that ordinary officers were given, its terms of reference should include the general issue of corruption within the police. It will be a big inquiry and would take at least a year.

For most of my secondary school years in the early 1970s one persistent story in the news was the saga of Arthur Allen Thomas who was convicted of the Crewe double murders in June 1970 by a crooked police inspector who planted evidence to achieve a prosecution from his belief that Thomas did it.

In 1974, I remember listening to broadcaster Brian Edwards interview the late barrister Mike Bungay on his morning talkback show. One caller mentioned his experience of having a policeman make false claims about his behavior, and in a situation of one person’s statement against another, Mike Bungay said the court would always take the word of the policeman “otherwise how could he ever give evidence again?”

That presented the dilemma that has long existed, and certainly did at that time, of how do you prove your version of events? The advent of personal video cameras a few years later, and then in the 2000s, smartphones with their video recording function, has made that task a lot easier.

Most people are aware of the well-reported ordeal that Louise Nichols suffered when as a teenager she was raped by four policemen in Murupara — one who for some reason was given permanent name suppression as well as officers Shipton, Schollum and Rickards. Her attempts to get justice were severely hindered by the head of the Rotorua CIB, John Dewar, a buddy of Shipton and Rickards– see this article.

All this presented the reality that not all cops are good and some are ratbags. The other situation is that for some those uniforms convey a sense of power which easily gets misused.

A friend told me about 15 years ago he saw three policemen roughing up a young guy in Levin and concerned about what he was witnessing, told them to give the guy a break. The response was, “shut up and f**k off or we’ll do you, too.” Obviously, this was quite improper and the incident should have been reported, even if the likelihood of it being listened to was small.

The message that has been stated before and needs to be repeated is never let the police get away with doing anything illegal. Although quite a few think they are above the law, they are not and can be prosecuted for breaking it like everyone else.

Living in Los Angeles in the early 1980s, the number of police handguns I saw being toted, on occasion low slung ‘wild west style’, made me thankful that wasn’t the case in NZ and I’m still pleased they don’t here. Of course, criminals also toted them concealed and shootouts were common: usually criminals and gang members shot at each other (the city’s homicide rate was 35 per 100,000 compared with NZ’s 1 per 100,000. Today it’s about 7 per 100,000 but that’s still not reassuring in bad neighborhoods.) It made you realise that being a cop in urban America wasn’t easy and could be dangerous compared with NZ.

But the atmosphere with the NZ police has changed a lot and over-the-top behavior by them happens regularly, usually in isolated situations away from the public gaze. Three years ago in 2019 up and down the country, on Jacinda and Stuart Nash’s orders, tooled up SWAT squad raids took place for months on law abiding firearms owners and alleged ‘right wing extremists’ following the mosque shootings. The extent of the aggression and intimidation that victims of the police reported was shocking, and some of it was even picked up by the Legacy Media.

We all know that the paid propagandist Media, particularly RNZ and TV One, unconditionally back the Jacinda government and its use of violence, as is to be expected — but the livestreams tell the truth. Most of Coster’s cops seemed unconcerned about being video’d, but they should have been. The Ardern regime has certainly kept lawyers busy and will do as long at it holds power.

Have any decent police members resigned out of disgust at being a part of this organisation? We are told there have been some, but the exact number will require an OIA request to find out.

Will people think twice about summoning help from Coster’s troops for the job they are actually supposed to be there to do?

Those who supported the protesters — about a third of the population — are sure to have misgivings: why would you want to summon assistance from people who may have stolen vehicles and property from the protesters? You do need to file a report with them for insurance claim purposes, but don’t expect them to care much, if at all.

If you happen to be attacked by muggers (fortunately, it is extremely rare in Waikanae) you need to look after yourself and don’t count on Coster’s troops coming to your assistance (a few years ago a woman who called the police emergency number because of a rapist attack was told that they were sending her a taxi!). I recommend learning Krav Maga, the official self-defense training developed by the Israeli Defense Forces. But for those less physically able, there are other things you can do.

A documentary movie is certain to result about this, and like the Springbok tour protests of 1981 it will never be forgotten.