Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Killers in uniform

Last night, the New Zealand police shot and killed a suspect. Its the second person they've killed this year, and comes in the wake of four killings by police last year.

As with the previous killing, the circumstances of this one are being contested by the victim's family. The police say the victim had a gun. His partner says he didn't. The official version will win, of course - it always does, no matter what the truth is - but when this happens twice in a row, you have to wonder.

What is indisputable is that the New Zealand police are using guns more than ever before, intimidating the public with them and bringing them to operations where they would previously have been unarmed. And in such circumstances, when you have a gang of hyped up, heavily armed police going in somewhere, its easy to see how one cop crying "gun" and another believing them can end in a hail of bullets.

No matter what you think of whether any particular shooting was justified or not, the routine arming of the police fundamentally changes the equation of law enforcement in this country. To put it bluntly, when the police are armed to this degree, providing them with information may lead to someone getting killed. And if you don't want that to happen, then you shouldn't cooperate with them. Its an unpleasant conclusion - the police are supposed to protect us after all. But when the police are killers, we should treat them as such. You wouldn't provide information to a serial killer looking for their next victim. So why provide it to a killer in a uniform?