Policeman on mission to restore confidence

By Ainsley Thomson

New Police Commissioner Howard Broad cannot recall another time in his 30-year career when there has been so much bad publicity about the police and says he is committed to restoring public confidence.

Mr Broad, who yesterday took over the top police job, said the public's opinion of the force was arguably even lower than it had been during the 1981 Springbok tour when the nation had been divided over the role of the police.

"Now I think there is a question about the police, a very fundamental one. Not just whether we are doing the right role or not, but about who we are."

The 49-year-old said he wanted there to be no doubt that the service the police provided met public expectations.

Public confidence in the police has deteriorated in the past two years and the organisation has found itself under fire over a series of problems, including the mishandling of the Iraena Asher case, the troubled 111 system, the email pornography scandal and police conduct.

Mr Broad acknowledged this yesterday, saying there were "some things from our past that we need to own and then move on". He said there had been a big improvement in the level of public transparency and scrutiny the organisation underwent.

"The question for the police is, are we able to step up to the mark and answer that scrutiny."

Mr Broad, previously assistant commissioner, is now the highest-paid person on the public payroll with a package worth $440,000.

Mr Broad's classmate at police college, Rob Pope, was appointed deputy commissioner (operations) and Ms Lyn Provost was reappointed deputy commissioner (resource management). All three have been appointed for five-year terms.

Yesterday's announcement ended a six-month search after Rob Robinson announced last October his intention to retire as commissioner after six years in the job. Steve Long, who is also due to retire, had been acting commissioner since December.

Mr Broad said he was taking on the role at an exciting time, and the drafting of a Police Bill, announced by Police Minister Annette King last month, would allow him to shape the police into a modern organisation.

He said the Government's commitment to provide 1000 extra sworn officers would be challenging to fulfil, but believed the staff could be found.

"I think one of the things we have to do is signal to good men and women in New Zealand that the police is an attractive career."

He singled out Auckland as a pressure point for the police and an area where public confidence in the organisation was particularly low.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said police were pleased the top job had gone to a sworn officer.


Howard Broad

* Age: 49.
* Years of police service: 30.
* Previous roles: Assistant commissioner, NZ; assistant commissioner seconded to Police Standards Unit, Home Office, UK; district commander, Auckland City.
* Qualifications: Law degree.

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