Joanne McNeill: Cops in frame copy B grade action

By Joanne McNeill


After mob-handed police stormed Kim Dotcom's family home, he asked why they hadn't just knocked on the door.

It reminded me of another instance of police overkill, which, along with the Ruatoki alleged terrorism bungle and regular police traffic pursuits to the death (even though summary capital punishment is not legal here, yet) reinforces the impression that NZ Police watch too much TV.

Susan (not her real name) shifted from rural NZ to Australia. She left her beloved cat with neighbours. Occasionally, as mad animal lovers will, she posted feline care packages home. One, containing worm pills, never arrived.

Instead a polite letter from NZ Customs announced they were a prohibited import and offered options : Destruction at no cost or return post for a fee.

The neighbours chose the former. The cat was in fine fettle, anyway.

Some time later, the same neighbours received a surprise parcel in the mail.

It proved to contain cannabis, also a prohibited import, posted from Thailand by an idiotically naive travelling in-law who bought it cheap and thought it would be great to come home to.

This time there was no polite letter. Thai customs took a cut, notified NZ Customs of incoming, NZ Customs and Police removed their percentage, repackaged the remaining drugs and posted them on to the unsuspecting neighbours, accompanied by police surveillance of the local Post Office from behind a hedge.

After the unwary neighbours collected the parcel (back before rural delivery) and took it home, they were opening it when pumped-up police, mistaking a family home for a B-grade action-movie set, broke down the door, trashed the house and carted the terrified neighbours off to jail.

Long-winded legal proceedings riddled with inconsistent evidence, and lifetimes of tragic consequences, ensued.

Written notification similar to the worm pill example would have saved much heartache, expense and destruction, as would have a polite knock on the door for a chat. But no, clearly gung-ho police become over-excited when they imagine they're starring in blockbuster reality crime-fighting roles.

The Dotcom saga is a full-blown fiasco complete with Keystone cops, illegal boys-own spying games, inconsistent police court evidence, an in-house whitewash and a rare case of collective amnesia mysteriously striking the PM, deputy PM, Banksy and the Minister of Police all at once.

Conveniently, the PM claims the farce is a "cock-up", not a conspiracy.

More likely, star-struck NZ Police fell over to impress the FBI with political expediency, cutting corners, despite alleged internet piracy charges against Dotcom - portrayed as a crusade on behalf of original artists - being based on desperate rearguard action by hypocritical, pre-digital US movie and music publishing dinosaurs, designed to preserve profits from their own traditional practice of ripping off original artists.

Ostensibly befuddled ministers know more than they admit. Maybe handing over Dotcom was a secret condition of the Hobbit deal? Unlike many local targets of police enthusiasm though, Dotcom is not poor or frightened enough to go quietly. This time, let's forego yet another billion dollar tax-payer funded inquiry. Let heads roll now, starting with the Minister in charge of the GCSB John Key (rhymes with shonky), before he sells us any further down the river.

- Northern Advocate

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