President's Weekly Round-up: 11 March 2016

NZPA - Greg O'Connor | Thu March 10th, 2016

It’s been a week that has reminded us about the realities of our industry – four members shot in one incident, fortunately not fatally but with injuries that will be part of their lives for some time, and physical scars that will last forever. 

When the news from Kawerau broke, we all experienced a horrible deja vu feeling remembering the killing of Len Snee in an eerily similar scenario in Napier in 2009. That the AOS guys were better armed, trained and, importantly, equipped was the only real difference with the Napier siege.  If they had been public safety team staff, I fear we would be preparing for a police funeral now.

I have spoken to two of the wounded officers and some family and will make contact with the other two officers next week. They were in surgery in Hamilton on Thursday.

In the middle of the Kawerau incident, an IPCA report was released into a fatal fleeing driver incident in Whanganui.  The IPCA essentially found that although Police complied with policy except for some technical aspects, they were still wrong to continue the pursuit – a remarkable finding, really. What can you do?  It raises the question of the role of the IPCA when it criticises staff despite them complying with policy.

The week started with the story of the collapse of a deck at a student flat in Dunedin the previous Friday. There were several serious injuries.  The deck had been crowded with students watching a band perform in the courtyard of the apartment complex. Police were present and had tried to clear decks, semi successfully, but it was like squeezing jelly and the gaps were refilled quickly. By Sunday, the collapse had somehow become a police problem.

Members in Dunedin were pretty upset with how they were being depicted and were grateful for our support.

I was able to speak to people involved at all levels on Sunday and was well briefed for TV3’s Paul Henry show on Monday morning. I must have made some good points because I got an email from the NZ Police Conduct Association, the conspiracy theorists who target police, complimenting me on my interview. Pigs do fly!

I identified smart-arse law students as being part of the problem by stopping our guys from entering the flats. Henry sat me on that same part of my own body by forcing me to admit that my daughter is one of that breed at Otago.

On a lighter note, the Hurricanes are showing that being movie stars does nothing for a team’s rugby, the Blues are adopting a very Kiwi “let's all have a turn” philosophy, the Chiefs have more injuries than the Light Brigade at Balaclava, the Crusaders look like they are waiting for Dan and Richie to come home and the Highlanders a running around with an energy that makes me think they could have the same team doctor and chemist as Maria Sharapova. All good fun, and since we can't look for much relief from the Breakers, Phoenix or Warriors, Super Rugby it is.

Here's hoping the new flag will be commissioned in time for the final and we don't have that one with someone else's flag on it fluttering in the final at the Cake Tin.

When I say “stay safe” this week, I do so with an extra emphasis, given our past week.

Enjoy the weekend.

Greg O

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