Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cleaning out the police

Yesterday, the State Services Commission released its third annual report [PDF] into changes in the police in response to the Bazley report on police rape. The report found that the changes to police culture recommended by Bazley had stalled. The key finding:

Senior management lacks the confidence and adeptness to make bold, circuit-breaking, and symbolic moves that will change the DNA of the organisation, signal to staff at all levels that poor performance and behaviour will not be tolerated, and that a new type of leader in Police will be fostered and advanced. Management has tolerated the continuation and even appointment of some of the wrong people in high places. Managers have sometimes failed to act decisively on high-profile incidents when a strong gesture has been required.
Or in English, shorn of its management-speak: Police management is incompetent, promotes crooked cops rather than sacking them, and continues to let police cover up for their mates - exactly the same attitudes that let Clint Rickards get away with rape.

This morning, Police Commissioner Howard Broad proved the SSC's point when he clubbed together with Greg O'Connor to push a mix of more foot dragging and outright denial:

[Broad] told Radio New Zealand the report did not go into as much detail about those who spoke well of the police as it did about those who had something negative to say.

"I am worried that this will set the organisation back rather than take us forward, because it looks like a huge big slapping and I think it's intended to actually propel us into greater energy and move us forward.

"You are not going to change the absolute core bones of the organisation overnight, it's going to take relentless and long term commitment to do that."


O'Connor said he feared the report could leave police staff feeling disgruntled and disaffected, therefore undermining their effectiveness.

"We have major problems with organised crime and methamphetamine in this country and that requires dedicated and focussed police officers in that area," he said.

"This kind of thing can undermine the efficiency of police if they say 'what's the point, we're just going to get a beating anyway no matter what we do.'"

O'Connor said he thought it would be better if further reports of this nature were not made public.

Yeah, more secrecy, to preserve public respect. We can see where that approach got us with Clint Rickards and his mates, whose crimes were swept under the carpet for twenty years before exploding messily in everyone's faces. But O'Connor's response would no doubt be that the secrets weren't buried deep enough.

Lets be clear: Broad and O'Connor and people like them are the problem. And we will not have a police force we can respect - a clean force which does not abuse its power, behave as if they are above the law, or cover up for their mates - until they are gone. Broad is already out; he goes in a few months. And this morning he was followed by his chief deputy, Rob Pope, who was implicated in the promotion of dirty cops linked to above. Good riddance to both of them. They've clearly done all they can do, and its time to move on and let someone who is willing to make the necessary changes take over. Unfortunately, though, we're still stuck with O'Connor. And pretty clearly he does not accept the need for change and is going to do everything in his power to impede it to protect his refusenik members. The result will be a continued decline in respect for the police. And they'll have no-one to blame for it but themselves.