A top Hawke's Bay police officer charged with careless driving may walk away without conviction.
Hawke's Bay Area Commander Inspector Tania Kura, 49, was on duty in her patrol car when she was involved in a crash with another vehicle on Maraekakaho Rd in Hastings, on November 26 last year.
District Commander of the Eastern District Superintendent Sandra Venables yesterday said the other vehicle was driven by a member of the public.
"[Kura] was on duty and driving a police vehicle at the time. After an investigation, she was charged with careless driving," Ms Venables said.
Kura first appeared in Hastings District Court on April 15 where her application for interim suppression was granted. Suppression lapsed at a second appearance last Friday, where the case was adjourned for diversion.
The New Zealand Police website states diversion provides an opportunity for some offenders to be dealt with in an "out of court way". If the diversion, typically a donation to a charity or voluntary work, is done in a given timeframe, no conviction will be entered.
The scheme is at the discretion of police, who are the only ones who can offer it.
Defendants must plead guilty to the charge before they can be considered for diversion.
When asked if she thought police should be offering diversion to one of their own, Ms Venables said police staff could be considered for diversion if they have met the criteria, "like any member of the public".
University of Otago Associate Law Professor Selene Mize said police need to be careful and be "above board" when dealing with their staff.
"It's not whether they are treating the police officer differently, but whether other people think they are, and about whether people think police are going soft on their own," Ms Mize said.
In 2012 Kura became the first female commander in Hawke's Bay following the amalgamation of Napier and Hastings police commands.
Previously she had been head of the Police College's School of Patrol and Operational Policing since mid 2009. She had also lead the charge in earlier years when she became the first female senior sergeant in charge of Mt Maunganui police in 2005.
She has since had a number of roles within the force and qualified as a detective in 1999.
She has more than 100 staff under her command.
Ms Venables said police were unable to comment further as the matter was before the court.