Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Above the law

A big myth in this country is that we are all equal under the law. If someone commits a crime, they get prosecuted, regardless of who they are. We already know that that's a myth when it comes to race and to class - if you are poor and brown you are far more likely to be prosecuted than if you are rich and white, even when the underlying offence is exactly the same. But there's another group who also get special treatment: police officers:

An officer who sped through an 80km/h zone after a fleeing driver should have been charged, the police watchdog says.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) investigated the manner of driving by an officer after the pursuit was abandoned in Auckland in August 2017.

Its decision said the officer drove at more than 160km/h, despite the police helicopter being able to monitor the pursuit.

An employment investigation disciplined the officer for continuing the pursuit when the risk was too high.

The authority disagreed with a police decision and said a criminal investigation was warranted in the circumstances.

This is the second time this month this has happened, and it paints a picture of the police thinking they are above the law. But apart from being inherently wrong and outright corrupt, this refusal of the police to prosecute their own also incentivises illegal behaviour by police officers. And that is something we simply should not tolerate.

As for what to do about it, letting the IPCA bring prosecutions against police would be a good start. That way there's at least some chance of the public getting justice when the gang in blue violates the trust we place in them.