Cops on the wrong side of the law

By Amelia Wade

Arrests show police are scrupulous in weeding out wrong-doers, says officers' union.

The national manager of professional standards, Detective Superintendent Sue Schwalger said police took a zero-tolerance approach to criminal behaviour in their ranks. Photo / APN
The national manager of professional standards, Detective Superintendent Sue Schwalger said police took a zero-tolerance approach to criminal behaviour in their ranks. Photo / APN

At least 67 police staff have been arrested in the past three years while serving on the force. Some of the charges include dealing LSD, assault, drink-driving and theft.

The Police Association say even one arrest was too many.

In the year to August, 10 police staff - sworn and non-sworn - had been arrested on charges including assault with a blunt instrument, theft of property under $500, theft of a motor vehicle and drink driving.

The districts which led the criminal behaviour were Canterbury and Waitemata, according to police figures released to the Herald under the Official Information Act.

In 2011, 28 police employees were arrested on charges including impersonating police, assault with intent to injure, unlawful sexual connection to a female and obstructing the course of justice.

Then, the districts with the greatest number of police arrested were Counties Manukau and Wellington with seven in each.

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said the figures clearly showed that police don't look after their own - in fact they do the opposite.

"If there were no police officers being arrested and charged ever, I think the public would have rightfully more concern that there was covering up.

"No one who has had anything to do with police - particularly lawyers who look after police officers - would ever say anything other than they're absolutely and utterly thorough."

Mr O'Connor said many of the cases highlighted by the figures would have been found not guilty by the courts because, had they been a civilian, they probably would not have been charged.

And he wanted to reiterate that not all of those arrested were police employees but were police staff.

"But even one is too many," Mr O'Connor said.

The national manager of professional standards, Detective Superintendent Sue Schwalger said police took a zero-tolerance approach to criminal behaviour in their ranks.

Wherever there was evidence of criminal offending, Ms Schwalger said, it was treated in the same manner as that of the public and was subject to the same tests.

"The police have one of the consistently highest ratings of any government agency in terms of public trust and confidence, and we want to ensure that remains the case," Ms Schwalger said.

"However, these numbers are not reflective of the efforts of the remaining 12,000 police staff who come to work every day to make a positive difference to make our roads and communities safer."

In October, a survey found public trust in the police had fallen, and support for a beefed-up Independent Police Conduct Authority was strong.

The Horizon Research police performance survey questioned 756 adults via email about their attitudes towards the police.

Just over 80 per cent of respondents wanted complaints about police to be investigated independently and support for added powers for the IPCA was also strong, 76.3 per cent of those polled believing the authority should have the power to initiate a prosecution against police officers.

Police Minister Anne Tolley questioned the methodology of the survey at the time it was released.

Later that month, police were on the receiving end of a High Court ruling which found they breached the court process by faking the prosecution of an undercover officer to protect his cover as he infiltrated the Nelson gang.

At the time, Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Bush said the New Zealand police force was "absolutely focused on the trust and con-fidence that the New Zealand public has in it".

Police in the dock

2012 to August: 10 arrests
*Assault with blunt instrument.
*Theft of property (under $500).
*Theft of motor vehicle.
*Impersonating a police officer.
*Driving with excess blood alcohol.
*Breath alcohol level over 400 mcg/litre.
*Driving a motor vehicle in a dangerous manner.
*Theft.
*Five withheld (due to suppression orders).

2011: 28 arrests
*Accessing computer system for a dishonest purpose (2).
*Assaulting person with blunt instrument (2).
*Assault with intent to injure.
*Attempted unlawful sexual connection with female over 16.
*Breach of local liquor ban.
*Breath alcohol level over 400 mcg/litre.
*Careless or inconsiderate driving causing death or injury (2).
*Common assault (2).
*Criminal breaches of trust.
*Driving a motor vehicle in a dangerous manner (3).
*Driving with excess blood alcohol (2).
*Indecently assaulting a female over 16 (2).
*Being a male, assaulted a female.
*Obstructing the course of justice (2).
*Operating a motor vehicle carelessly.
*Participation in organised criminal group (2).
*Resisting police (2).
*Taking document for pecuniary advantage (2).
*Theft of property (under $500) (2).
*Theft by person in special relationship (3).
*Unlawful sexual connection with a female over 16.
*Wilful damage.
*Wounding - intent to injure.
*One withheld (due to suppression orders).

2010: 29 arrests
*Assault with intent to injure.
*Breath alcohol level over 400 mcg/litre.
*Common assault .
*Common assault (Crimes Act) (3).
*Disorderly behaviour.
*Driving contrary to a limited licence.
*Driving with excess blood alcohol content (6).
*Exceeding a 100km/h posted speed limit.
*Failing to stop or ascertain injury or non-injury.
*Indecently assaulting female over 16 (3).
*Obscene exposure.
*Obstructing the course of justice.
*Offensive behaviour (3).
*Operating a vehicle carelessly (2).
*Other common assault.
*Other common assault (Crimes Act) (2).
*Other miscellaneous intimidation and threat.
*Possession of LSD for supply.
*Dealing LSD.
*Taking document for pecuniary advantage.
*Theft by person in special relationship.
*Unlawful possession of a restricted weapon.
*Using or permitting telephone to be used.
*Wilful trespass.
*One withheld.

- NZ Herald

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