Eastern Bay police are supporting disgraced constable Andrew Rush after a workplace crash unearthed serious mental health and drinking problems.
The Edgecumbe-based constable, who admitted drinking a few beers at lunch before his shift, claimed he was pursuing a vehicle before the crash that landed him in court last week on charges of drink driving and careless driving.
With the criminal court process concluded, Senior Sergeant Al Fenwick said police were providing Rush with the support he needed to get his life back on track.
He said Rush was given no special treatment through the court process.
"The police are human like the rest of us, and we make mistakes, and he's been afforded no special treatment. He has appeared before the courts and has faced the same process any member of the public would.
"We're held to a higher standard than the general public and it's always disappointing when we don't reach the standard we want," Fenwick said.
Rush is stood down from all duties and is facing an employment investigation after he drove drunk into a fence in Edgecumbe.
The police summary of facts tells how, on April 6, Rush was working a late shift alone in Edgecumbe and Kawerau, wearing full uniform and driving a marked patrol utility.
When he started his shift at 4pm, one of his first stops was the liquor store where he bought four high-strength beers containing 8.9 per cent alcohol.
About 8.40pm Rush was driving on Otakiri Rd in Edgecumbe, a rural road with a speed limit of 100km/h.
The speed limit reduces to 50km/h at the intersection of Te Teko Rd and Main St and at the time of the crash, the road was dry, and traffic conditions were light.
Coming to the moderate left turn, Rush was driving at speed.
He lost control of the ute and crossed onto the wrong side of the road, then left the road, narrowly missing a light pole and smashing through a fence, the summary stated.
Concerned locals called police and Rush was found in his vehicle.
According to the police summary, alcohol could be smelled on his breath and a roadside test returned a positive result.
Rush returned a result of 1204 micrograms per litre of breath, nearly five times the legal limit of 250mcg.
Rush told police he had a couple of beers with lunch and that he was travelling at 130km/h chasing a car that had dangerously overtaken him.
Rush's lawyer, David Pawson, told NZME his client had descended into alcoholism and depression because of a post-traumatic stress injury.
He said Rush was deeply regretful for what he had done and immediately accepted responsibility for his actions.
Fenwick said in his time in the police, Rush had served the community well.
He said police were human too and not immune to frailties.
"It will likely cost him his job," he said.
"People are prosecuted for drink driving and they can get a work licence and carry on but for him, it may cost him his career and everything else."
Rush was convicted in the Whakatane District Court on April 27 of drink driving and careless driving.
He was fined $1000, disqualified from driving for six months and ordered to pay $2013 reparation for the damage caused.
- Whakatāne Beacon