President's Weekly Round-up: 5 February 2016

NZPA - Greg O'Connor | Fri February 5th, 2016

One of our members in Counties Manukau was shot at in his vehicle about six times on two separate occasions during a pursuit.  Police press releases described the officer as having been armed when, in fact, the firearm was inaccessible to him in the lockbox in the vehicle.  I got some heated messages from his colleagues who were very unhappy at that press release, and I contacted The New Zealand Herald to correct it.

The real discussion on firearms needs to be around why so many offenders are armed and where the guns are coming from. 

The TPPA protests also brought the troops under the spotlight.  Despite literally thousands of cameras and cell phones seeking a shot of police using force, our troop's actions were restrained and professional.  Who can forget the feeling of standing in the front line of a demonstration and having a rabid, abusive protestor in your face trying to provoke you into rearranging their bone structure, and having to keep smiling as you remind yourself it’s not worth your job for the short term pleasure you would derive from obliging?  Well done those troops.

Of course, Prime Minister John Key's decision to boycott Waitangi meant no second act up there.  Politically it will do him no harm, with the right-wing commentators in particular cheer-leading it.  Brinkmanship was the loser. It will make next year interesting, though, and I wonder if we are now in a period of no-shows at Waitangi. 

The other issue of the week has been fleeing driver deaths.  Everyone is looking for the pill to solve the issue, which has been an entirely predictable problem since word got out that if offenders drive fast enough or dangerously enough, police will soon pull out.

The IPCA will sift through the cases looking for and commenting on breaches of policy, which have no impact on the outcome, and every three or four years holding another review, but, essentially, I don't see much change to current policy without going to an absolutely prescriptive model, which will mean no pursuit.  I suspect we will still be discussing it in 10 years’ time.

As well as the political and media stuff, the grunt work here at National Office continues. Health and Safety is the new black and seems to be underlying much of what we do.   We are awaiting an audit of Police H&S practices and working out how we can best represent members’ interests and keep them safe.

The Welfare Fund staff, who handle members’ Health Plan, insurances and general calls to National Office, are currently working in temporary cramped conditions, in some pretty clammy weather, but you wouldn't know from the service they give. We are refurbishing their floor for a more efficient use of space, but their non-complaining and stoic attitude to their temporary conditions can only be described as staunch.

Stay safe,

Greg O



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