Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The police kill already

Last year, our police killed sixteen people in chases, victims of a policy which allowed them to chase on suspicion without regard to the danger such chases posed to the public. This year, they've killed already, with a teenager dying in a police chase in Auckland last night. Like the other victims of police chases, the victim was not suspected of a serious crime and did not pose any serious danger to the public. He was a car thief, not a psycho running amok with a gun. But the police chased him at high speed, encouraging dangerous driving, and ultimately caused his death.

(I am now waiting for the inevitable press release from the Police Association claiming that the fact people flee from police means they should have greater access to firearms. It makes about as much sense as their other claims on the topic).

The Independent Police Conduct Authority have repeatedly told the police to change their pursuit policy to prevent dangerous chases on suspicion or for minor crimes. The police have refused, defying their oversight body, and effectively our parliament, in doing so. What we are looking at here is a police force out of control, and killing people. That situation should not be allowed to continue.

Sadly, the police have the full support of their Minister in doing this. Rather than reining them in and telling them to use only proportionate and necessary force to enforce the law, Judith Collins has written them a blank cheque, abusing anyone who criticises their behaviour. Now she's demanding that anyone who flees from police be jailed, regardless of the severity of the original offending. The idea is mad on multiple levels - it won't deter, because scared young kids don't do a rational cost benefit-analysis before fleeing police, and it won't make said kids (who are at best guilty of minor crimes, and sometimes of no crime at all before being chased) better people or prevent further criminal behaviour. If anything, it is likely to do the opposite, imposing further costs on society. But hey, the Minister gets "tough on crime" headlines and stupid redneck votes, which is all she cares about. Rational policymaking? You won't see any of that in Collins' office...

Collins' support means that she is as guilty as the police in this young mans' death. Someone should carve his name - and that of every other person killed by the police on her watch - on her office door to remind her that such posturing has consequences.