Monday, May 05, 2014

The police and political discrimination

Judith Collins' attack on TVNZ reporter Katie Bradford yesterday was a perfect example of a Minister doing her best to shoot herself in the foot. And while she's since apologised for it, it raises a disturbing question.

For those who didn't see it, here's what Collins said:

"It's just like when a member of the Press Gallery, about how her then-husband was having difficulty being recruited by the New Zealand Police. She said that was a problem and had been told that her husband wasn't going to be acceptable as a police recruit because of her family connections."

As we got back to the original question, the minister was not finished.

"I think you should ask Katie Bradford about that matter."

Ignore the allegation that Bradford had asked her to interfere in a police recruitment matter - Collins has since admitted that was false, and that while the issue was raised there was never any request to interfere. What's interesting here is what it says about the police and their "background checks". The police rightly check the backgrounds of applicants for criminal connections to avoid being infiltrated and to reduce the risk of dirty cops. But in this case, it seems a bit over the top. Because that "family connection" is former Green MP and long-standing activist Sue Bradford. While she has in the course of her long career accumulated numerous criminal convictions, they're for things like trespass and disorderly behaviour. This is not by any stretch of the imagination serious criminal offending (hell, its a sign of good character to be arrested standing up for something you believe in). To consider such a connection to be a barrier to entering the police force is pure political discrimination, and something the police need to stop. Unless they're trying to make themselves look like right-wing bully-boys?