Monday, February 09, 2009

Police cover for their own - again

The Dominion-Post reports yet another case of the police covering for their own:

A police recruit who assaulted two colleagues in a Wellington bar was allowed to graduate with a blemish-free record.

The man denied the offending, but an internal investigation into the incident, completed after he had graduated from the police college and had been placed in South Auckland, found him guilty of common assault a charge punishable by up to six months in prison or a $4000 fine.

It is understood no criminal charges were laid.

The assault was relatively minor, and may normally have been dealt with by a police warning or diversion rather than formal criminal charges. But at the same time, it calls the suitability of this recruit into question. Quite apart from showing that they lack the judgement and self-control necessary to be a police officer, it raises the question: is a thug who beats people up in bars really someone we can rely on to keep us safe?

Unfortunately the police's response shows that they have learned nothing from the Clint Rickards saga. Rickards wasn't just a bad person: he was a product of the toxic police culture that had recruited, trained, socialised and promoted him - a culture in which police protected their own and actively conspired to cover up each other's crimes. That culture is clearly still alive and well, and as long as it is, we will see people like Rickards and his accomplices again and again, and the confidence the public have in the police will continue to decline.