Comment: Victims of any crime always priority for police

By Glenn Dunbier

1 comment
Glenn Dunbier
Glenn Dunbier

I read with interest the comments made by Merepeka Raukawa-Tait this week, where she talks about the subject of rape and gives a view that police need to step aside in investigating this crime, largely based - I'm guessing - on the swirling media coverage of the subject.

I know Merepeka as a clever and genuine person, and usually respect her viewpoints. Even in this instance I feel she makes some valid points in relation to advertising and better education around inappropriate behaviour.

I also wholeheartedly agree that rape has an horrific impact on lives. It's great that she cares enough to have her say and I applaud her for that.

However, on a few points she made I have a different view.

Making sweeping judgments about the police based on isolated incidents and before all of the full facts are known has the potential in itself to prevent victims of sexual abuse, and other crimes, from coming forward.

Surely that is the complete reverse of what Merepeka is trying to achieve.

Merepeka also makes reference to a woman who didn't report an attack to police. We know from experience that there are a variety of reasons that women choose not to report sexual crimes, and some of these reasons have nothing to do with a lack of trust and confidence in the police.

No one should be in any doubt that the police take sexual abuse extremely seriously. No one should be in any doubt that all victims, no matter what the crime, are a priority for police.

And no one should be in any doubt that our staff do have the required level of understanding, empathy, common sense, expertise, skill and training.

Yes criminal investigations are complex, they are emotive and the harsh reality, given the evidential threshold within which we work, is that sometimes the outcome is not favourable in the opinion of everyone.

For every one of those cases, there are dozens more where justice is served and the victims feel they have been supported through their hours of need; they are just not cases that are shouted about in the media.

I will be the first to stand up and take it on the chin if we make a mistake here in the Bay of Plenty but I am also the biggest cheerleader for the officers and staff who work in this district.

They have a tough job that the majority of New Zealanders would not even contemplate taking on.

Every day, they turn up to work wanting to make a difference, and make their communities safer, and every day they are doing just that; sometimes putting their own lives on the line in the process.

I witness on a day-to-day basis respect, empathy, common sense, discretion and trust. It fills me with pride that I have such a high-calibre team helping our communities to feel safe and be safe and I take it very personally when I see commentary that - taken without some balance - could undermine the work that they do.

On a final note, let's not forget about prevention. Before we lay all responsibility for crime and inappropriate behaviour at the door of the police, let's remember we are all part of this society; we are all members of our communities, and it is for us all jointly to play our part in preventing crime and inappropriate behaviour.

- Superintendent Glenn Dunbier is District Commander of Bay of Plenty police.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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