Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The problem of police dishonesty

RNZ has a major story this morning about the police killing of Shargin Stephens in Rotorua in 2016. The "Independent" Police Conduct Authority of course cleared police of any wrong-doing, and found police actions "reasonable" and the killing justified. The police are now using that finding to prevent a coronial inquest into their actions. But RNZ's investigation has found that the police lied to the IPCA to blacken their victims name and paint him as "uncooperative" with bail checks, while also hiding the past involvement of his killers in what appears to be a sustained campaign of harassment. The investigation also raises questions about edited tasercam footage, where significant moments just before the killing appear to have been deleted. These alone should justify an independent investigation.

The problem of course is that the police, who have been shown already to have lied, may just lie to that as well. Though unlike the derisory penalties for lying to the IPCA, lying to the Coroner is actually perjury, punishable by 7 year's jail.

But I think this is part of a bigger problem: a culture of reflexive dishonesty among police. They lie to the IPCA, they lie to the public, they lie to Parliament, to protect themselves and their "reputation", seeming to think public trust can be maintained by deceit. It has the opposite effect. And yet, they keep doing it. So maybe its time for another inquiry into police culture, aimed at stamping out this culture of dishonesty, so we can have a police force capable of performing its basic functions with integrity, rather than what seems to be little more than a gang with better uniforms.