Police association front page news https://policeassn.org.nz/ Thu, 23 Mar 2017 15:36:46 +1300 Thu, 23 Mar 2017 15:36:46 +1300 Scrapping New Zealand’s Vehicle Safety Officers dangerous and short-sighted https://policeassn.org.nz/newsroom/publications/media-releases/scrapping-new-zealand%E2%80%99s-vehicle-safety-officers-dangerous-and-s The Police Association is deeply concerned that the jobs of the country’s 26 Vehicle Safety Officers (VSOs) are to be axed at a time when New Zealand’s road toll is unacceptably high, and climbing. Police last year announced that 111 road policing staff (which includes VSOs) were to be taken off these duties and absorbed back into general policing with no-one losing their job. “That is clearly not the case because the 26 VSOs are to be disbanded.  These highly specialised mechanics and engineers who focus on the safety of New Zealand’s heavy duty vehicles are not sworn officers and so cannot be simply absorbed into other policing duties,” Association President Chris Cahill said. Police say that less than 4% of crashes on our roads involve commercial trucks.  The Association considers it not unreasonable to extrapolate from that that the relatively low figure of commercial vehicle accidents is due to the independence and expertise of the VSOs when conducting inspections.   “There are tens of thousands of heavy commercial vehicles on New Zealand’s roads at any given time, and, when trucks can travel 100,000s of kms between inspections, an undetected mechanical or structural fault can cause havoc,” Mr Cahill said. “When trucks or buses are involved in accidents the consequences are usually significant.  It simply doesn’t make sense to downplay the roadworthiness of the likes of massive logging trucks, school and tourist buses, and, don’t forget, the potential catastrophe of an unsafe vehicle is not only for those inside it, but for other road users who may be impacted in any crash.”    VSOs deal regularly with issues which could cause imminent vehicle failure.  These include the likes of worn universal joints, missing, lose or broken cap bolts, visible cracks in cross members and between drive axles, cracked chassis plates, damaged chassis rails, cracked deck attachments, insufficient tread depth on tyres. The Association wants to know which independent agency or agencies will now carry out the vital inspections which uncover these faults, and who will be responsible for reporting on the roadworthiness of commercial vehicles involved in crashes. “Taking staff from road policing when New Zealand’s freight levels are expected to increase 75% over the next 25 years is extremely short sighted,” Mr Cahill said.  “We also only need to look back at the last Christmas/New Year holiday period open road toll of 15 fatal crashes and 19 deaths to know it is not a time to mess with road safety in any way”, Mr Cahill said. “Added to that, Police’s own report notes a 16% increase in road crash hospitalisation figures for the last quarter of last year compared to the 2015 figures.  That is the highest result since 2008/09 and while those numbers were fairly consistently represented across most districts, some areas showed substantial increases,” he said. The report also shows New Zealand has nothing to be proud of when our progress in reducing road deaths is compared with other OECD countries.  We top the scale in (relative) rises in road deaths - increases which are mirrored in the hospitalisation results. Media Releases Thu, 23 Mar 2017 15:36:46 +1300 Police association front page news Police News March 2017 https://policeassn.org.nz/newsroom/publications/police-news/police-news-march-2017 In this issue: An officer's incredible recovery from a firearm blast; Government pledge for more cops applauded; a new era for Youth Aid; and the police response to the Port Hills fires. Police News (Magazine) Tue, 07 Mar 2017 15:43:25 +1300 Police association front page news President's Column: A positive start to the year https://policeassn.org.nz/newsroom/publications/presidents-column/presidents-column-positive-start-year It is the nature of the political beast that any major announcement a government makes in election year is slapped down as an “election bribe”. The Government’s Safer Communities Package proved no exception to this political peculiarity. Of course, the “rule” applies no matter the hue of the party in power. Frontline police officers, however, have little patience with political game playing. The fact is you all know how stressful policing has become with an increase in serious gun, gang and meth crime, together with a rise in serious assaults against officers. Politics does not leap to mind in the heat of being presented with a firearm or being assaulted in the line of duty.  However, when you feel stretched to breaking point, you need to know that politicians of all stripes listen when you tell them straight up how it is in the real world. Without a doubt, the quality of police work in New Zealand has contributed to the country’s recent ranking as fourth safest in the world (behind Iceland, Denmark and Austria). Improving on that rank is a goal worth striving for, but the Association is acutely aware that such milestones cannot be reached without proper resourcing. The Association has openly welcomed the extra 880 sworn staff and 245 Police employees. This 10 per cent increase acknowledges our very public concerns for policing across all areas. I met with Police Minister Paula Bennett soon after the announcement and it was pleasing to see her enthusiasm for her new portfolio. She emphasised that the Government expects a return on its investment and considers policing to be a key part of a multi-faceted, integrated approach to law and order. An example is the Justice Minister’s $680,000 boost for the Christchurch Family Violence pilot, which complements the extra policing package in that it reviews on a daily basis all family violence  episodes attended by police, as well as high-risk prison releases. I made it clear to Minister Bennett that the Association is well placed to give her a first-hand view of what is happening across policing. It has been a positive start to the year, but do not forget that the package will take four years to be fully recruited and implemented. We are now waiting to see how the new staff will be distributed. The Commissioner has committed to all districts receiving some new resources and, because it is election year, politicians are demanding increases in their individual patches. On your behalf, we will be watching. President's Columns Tue, 07 Mar 2017 09:08:44 +1300 Police association front page news Policing commitment welcomed https://policeassn.org.nz/newsroom/publications/featured-articles/policing-commitment-welcomed Election year kicked off to a strong $388 million start for police. The Government has walked the talk on its commitment to address an increase in serious crime and a stressed police force by expanding the number of sworn and non-sworn staff by 1125. That 10 per cent boost is welcomed by the Association. There is healthy circumspection about where the staff will be deployed and how Police will manage a daunting recruitment drive, but “so far the positives heavily outweigh the negatives”, according to Association President Chris Cahill. “Overall, this Safer Communities package has been well thought out in terms of taking the pressure off a number of key areas identified by the Association,” he said. Organised crime, a surge in methamphetamine and a proliferation of illegal firearms are among the issues the Association wants these extra resources to be aimed at. Initiatives such as the 12 mobile policing units to be allocated across the country to tackle various community policing concerns as they arise, and the 24/7 non-emergency phone line, will alleviate frustrations the public has in trying to reach police. The Association has been assured by Police that the 880 sworn staff will arrive “fully costed” in terms of mobility, tactical training, uniforms and equipment. “It is our job to make sure that commitment is kept,” Mr Cahill said. The first intake of new recruits will begin training in July and be operational by November. To complete the recruitment and training of 220 extra officers a year over the next four years, as well as those needed to address natural attrition, it will be 2020 before the full complement hits the beat. Ideally, the Association would like the extra staff immediately, but the sheer logistics of the initiative preclude that. In some initial responses from Association members it is clear the allocation is going to be closely scrutinised. Feedback included: • A desire that the 500 extra frontline police “should sit in i-cars, or the equivalent in rural areas, where the demand is”. • Would the additional non-sworn staff take back the positions previously done by non-sworn, but then disestablished and given to sworn members? “Using non-sworn in these roles would free up even more officers.” • The package should be “very much about additional Indians, not more chiefs” or “pet projects”. • More rural policing is most welcome, as long as it is well resourced. • Finding enough recruits in a timely manner is going to be a challenging exercise. • The mobile policing units are a great idea – “a proactive targeting team so other groups are not stripped to deal with problems as they arise”. • Despite the constraints of the past few years, one member said, the New Zealand public had been getting very good value for its money from the current Police staff.   THE NUMBERS 1125 new staff – 880 sworn, 245 non-sworn – over four years, taking total Police staff to more than 13,000 (10 per cent more officers by 2021) 500 more officers for the frontline 140 more officers for regional and rural policing (the aim is for 95 per cent of New Zealanders to be within 25km of a 24/7 police presence) 140 more investigators for child protection, sexual assault, family violence and other serious crime 80 more officers to target organised crime, gangs and methamphetamine 20 more ethnic liaison officers 12 mobile policing units 24/7 – new national non-emergency phone line; Police Eagle helicopter funded to operate fulltime THE COST $503m over four years – $388m for Police, $115m for wider justice sector.   Featured Articles Tue, 07 Mar 2017 10:05:10 +1300 Police association front page news Police Association urges caution over publication of Taser camera footage https://policeassn.org.nz/newsroom/publications/media-releases/police-association-urges-caution-over-publication-taser-camera- The Police Association has appealed to media outlets to show judgement and fairness if they publish Taser camera footage from a recent trial of four Hawkes Bay police officers.  The officers were acquitted of assaulting Gregory McPeake by using either a police Taser as a weapon, or assault using a police dog as a weapon. The Napier District Court has granted TVNZ, Fairfax and NZME access to the footage, subject to a number of conditions. Association President Chris Cahill asks the media concerned to heed Judge Cooper’s warnings about fair and contextual use of the material. Mr Cahill says he would be alarmed if the footage was used to essentially “trial by media” the Hawkes Bay officers.  “It is vital to remember that the actions of the officers were fully tested in a court of law, and the decision from that trial is the most informed.  The jury considered all the evidence – including the footage Judge Cooper has agreed to release - and took little over an hour to acquit the officers,” Mr Cahill said. Mr McPeake died during the arrest process but not as a result of the actions of the officers, and Mr Cahill says the Association is very aware of the distress caused to Mr McPeake’s family. “I am therefore very concerned that the Taser footage the wider public will see captures only a few moments of a difficult, protracted and ultimately tragic night’s events,” Mr Cahill said. “Context in such situations is a serious issue. It is up to the media to ensure they follow the Judge’s directions on this matter.  Context means the Taser footage must not be isolated from everything the police officers were confronted with that night,” he said. Mr Cahill welcomes the ruling of Judge PW Cooper in granting the application in which he advised media to report this matter accurately. The Judge said “media will need to provide a context which, to be fair, balanced and accurate, would no doubt include matters leading up to the use of the Tasers and the police dogs and the fact that Gregory McPeake’s death, if referred to at all, was not caused by the officers’ actions.” The Judge went on to say that “having presided over the trial, I can say that it is incontrovertible that the officers acted in good faith and any suggestion otherwise would be highly actionable.” Media Releases Fri, 10 Mar 2017 12:02:11 +1300 Police association front page news Police Association questions shooting club ban https://policeassn.org.nz/newsroom/publications/media-releases/police-association-questions-shooting-club-ban The Police Association is alarmed that a Wairarapa shooting club has banned police from using its firearms training facility in a bid to force Police National Headquarters to change its attitude on certain gun policies and procedures. Association President Chris Cahill says the Association readily accepts that the vast majority of gun owners are law abiding citizens. He also says in his experience very few gun owners have issues with registering their own firearm, or who they may on-sell to. The aim is to control who has access to firearms, not penalise licensed firearms owners. “Like it or not, the reality is that criminals often acquire their guns from burglaries of legitimate gun owners and dealers, or, guns are on-sold to people who have no intention of registering them and using them within legal parameters,” Mr Cahill said. On a daily basis our members are being confronted by criminals with guns.  The results of a proliferation of firearms are very real for front line police and the Association believes that having a gun pointed in your face should not be seen as just part of the job.  Illegal firearms are also regularly uncovered during routine searches of suspects, vehicles and buildings.  This situation is a significant risk to police officers and to the public. Under the Arms Act (1983) a firearms licence allows the holder to have and use sporting type shotguns and rifles.  Target shooting pistol club members require a ‘B’ Endorsement attached to their firearms licences to possess and use pistols as a member of an incorporated pistol club on a range approved by the Commissioner of Police. “With all dangerous things in society come rules and regulations that have to be enforced.  A firearm is a lethal weapon and we do not see why firearms should be excluded from safeguards”, Mr Cahill said. He added that while the club’s president, Mr Rawlinson, says they are “not trying to be vindictive or nasty”, in imposing an immediate ban,  it certainly sounds vindictive when Police is trying to ensure dangerous weapons do not end up in the hands of criminals. “This banning of front line police from the firearms training facility is the first the Association has ever heard of the issues the Wairarapa Club has now expressed.” “Perhaps it would have been more productive to at least approach the Association with the view to discuss the concerns rather than complicate the training programmes of Wairarapa police who use, and pay for, the Club’s facilities in order to ensure they are equipped to keep the community safe,” Mr Cahill said. Media Releases Fri, 10 Mar 2017 12:06:56 +1300 Police association front page news Kiwi criminals deported from Australia strengthening gangs https://policeassn.org.nz/newsroom/publications/recent-media/kiwi-criminals-deported-australia-strengthening-gangs Kiwi criminals deported from Australia strengthening gangs - Police Association President Chris Cahill says Kiwi-born criminals deported from Australia are contributing to a professionalisation of New Zealand gangs, which is likely to lead to a spike in drug-related violence. Recent Media Fri, 24 Feb 2017 13:11:33 +1300 Police association front page news Police 'default' mental health service as attempted suicide call outs jump 30 per cent https://policeassn.org.nz/newsroom/publications/recent-media/police-default-mental-health-service-attempted-suicide-call-outs- Police 'default' mental health service as attempted suicide call outs jump 30 per cent - NZ Police Association President Chris Cahill  comments on the increase in attempted suicides handled by police. Recent Media Wed, 22 Feb 2017 16:36:51 +1300 Police association front page news Police Association against blood tests for officers https://policeassn.org.nz/newsroom/publications/recent-media/police-association-against-blood-tests-officers Police Association against blood tests for officers -  Police Association President Chris Cahill was interviewed on The Panel for comment on the NZ Police announcement of mandatory blood testing for police officers. Recent Media Fri, 17 Feb 2017 15:29:23 +1300 Police association front page news