Monday, July 18, 2022

Corrupt cops should be named, shamed, and fired

On Thursday the Independent Police Conduct Authority found that a senior Northland police officer had improperly involved himself in a prosecution to protect a mate's son from an assault charge. As usual for the IPCA, they refused to name the officer, despite a finding that fundamentally called into question their fitness for a leadership role. But the Northern Advocate was on the case, and on Sunday night they named and shamed him:

The identity of the senior Northland police officer who "improperly influenced" a senior prosecutor to withdraw an assault charge can now be revealed.

Whang─ürei-Kaipara police area commander Inspector Marty Ruth was called "Officer B" in an Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) report which found he had intervened in a prosecution on behalf of an associate.


The police watchdog found Ruth's action breached a police policy on conflicts of interest because of his business connection.

Ruth - second in command of police in Northland - denied to the IPCA that he had breached the policy. The Advocate has asked Ruth for comment and received no response.

And it turns out that Inspector Ruth has a long history of abuse. Back in 1999 he was found by a judge to have been making fake interview recordings of suspects, while conducting the real interviews - complete with threats and violence - off-camera. Despite this, the police continued to employ him. The police tell us that they've changed, and that they're not that bad old agency anymore. But that's hard to believe when they're full of the same people doing the same things, and when their response to judicial or IPCA findings of abusive, corrupt, or even criminal behaviour is to resolutely look the other way.

The Police Manual chapter on internal Fraud and corruption defines corruption as "The abuse of entrusted power or the lack of integrity or honesty (typically involving bribery) for private gain". It gives examples of

  • Deciding not to take some action, such as to investigate or highlight some corrupt activity by a person, when that inaction improperly benefits them, you, or some other person...
  • Intentionally circumventing Police policy or procedure in order to obtain an advantage for themselves or another person...
  • So‐called ‘Noble Cause Corruption’‐ Includes the intentional avoidance of correct procedure to achieve the best result, such as planting or fabricating evidence, lying on reports or in court, and generally abusing police authority to achieve a conviction...
Its is left as an exercise for the reader to judge whether Inspector Ruth's actions met that definition.

The same policy claims that "New Zealand Police has zero tolerance for fraud and corruption. Police does not and will not accept fraud or corruption at any level, or in any form, occurring in our organisation". I look forward to them applying it. Because allowing an officer who has been found on multiple occasions to have behaved corruptly to remain in a senior leadership position is obviously untenable. It undermines the police's integrity, and the message police leadership is supposedly sending to junior officers about what is and is not acceptable behaviour. It also very obviously undermines public trust and confidence in the police and their role as impartial upholders of the law. And that is unacceptable. This corrupt officer must be fired.