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Are our coppers taking the silver?
For many years in New Zealand we have been living in a bubble. That bubble has been constructed not from soap, but from a very clever amalgam made out of our own innocent naivety and some carefully spun doublespeak from our leaders.
Figures are regularly presented to us and we all pat ourselves on the back about how we don’t have corruption in New Zealand. It must be true, because we are fed an annual diet of league tables that show us to be one of the least corrupt nations in the world.
Now I wouldn’t for one moment suggest these tables are wildly inaccurate; I believe they are probably pretty near to the mark because (aside from the vagaries of statistics) they are usually compiled by some pretty respectable bodies. However it is the spin that is put upon these figures that can make them sound better than they actually are. You see we are ranked alongside the other nations of the world and these tables merely serve t o show that we are nowhere near as bad as many others; not that we are without corruption.
I should bloody well hope we fare better than China or Zimbabwe or India or South Africa or any number of other cesspits of corruption, but to congratulate ourselves is at best a little premature. It is rather like saying Raymond Ratima is a good bloke because he only killed seven people as opposed to David Gray who killed 13.
The other thing to remember here is that because these tables rank us in relation to others, then the worse corruption becomes in other countries, the more we can afford to allow ours to grow without losing our ranking.
Unfortunately, I believe this has been happening and it is because life inside that bubble is nice and warm and reassuring, but I am sorry to say it is time we stuck a pin into that bubble and experienced a cold blast of reality. Sure we will get a bit of sticky ooze all over our shirts, but unless we want to become the Wild West (or East, for that matter), we are going to have to confront this shit that is blocking our collective bowel (no wonder we have so much colonic cancer here) and carry out a good old fashioned purge.
Corruption in New Zealand, like anywhere else exists in many different places. You will find it in big corporations, Local Government and especially Central Government and Government Departments & SOEs and worst of all in the NZ Police Force.
I say worst of all in regards to the Police, because these are the people charged (ddeliberate pun) with upholding the law. If you can’t trust them to deal straight, then who the fuck can you trust? When the cops turn bad it is like gamekeepers turning into poachers.
As you might have gathered I feel very strongly about this, but I am realistic enough to understand that individuals are just people and people can sometimes be weak and fallible (unlike Popes, apparently ... Oh, wait a minute, that one has been dashed now too). However when those individuals are protected and, dare I say it? (Yes I dare) backed up by higher ranking officers, then alas, our little Kiwi handcart seems headed for a very hot place.
So what has fired me up to such an extent that I am prepared to make statements that could see me waiting a very long time for a response unit should I need one?
Well it has been a pair of very recent incidents that have graced the pages of our newspapers involving cops in high and very low places (in the latter case both morally and according to pay scale) who let us say appear to have other agenda than the fair and even-handed administration of the law. There have been many others but these two are among the worst and most obvious. I could name Kim Dotcom and the Tuhoe incident, but for today I will stick to these two – Daniel Clout and Occupy Auckland.
The first of these was brought to my attention by 3rd Degree, the new current affairs programme on TV3. (But we won’t judge that just yet). There we learned how Police in New Plymouth have been harassing Daniel Clout, a man who makes his coin as a wheel clamper.
Now I know not many people like wheel clampers, but like many other somewhat obnoxious functionaries, he has a job to do. Furthermore it is a job that, in his case at least, is carried out within the limits of the law.
At various times over the last few weeks the New Plymouth cops have arrested Daniel (for no legitimate reason); assaulted him; turned a blind eye to assaults by members of the public on him and failed to arrest those offenders; demanded he produce a licence for his activity, which he is not required to have; encouraged members of the public to commit acts of vandalism and then not arrest them for those acts; incite members of the public in a manner which if you or I did it, would result in us being arrested for causing a breach of the peace; give members of the public misleading and incorrect information regarding the legality of Daniel’s actions; and finally threaten him that they would not respond to any call he might make for their assistance in the future.(not that they’d been of any use to him so far). The latter was made in the context of him having clamped one of their unmarked patrol cars which they had parked in a private car park that displayed a clear warning that intruders could be clamped. Daniel had no way of knowing it was a police vehicle at the time. The senior officer quite clearly lied to him about his inability to pay the clamping fee until it became apparent Daniel was not backing down even in the face of such blatant and corrupt intimidation.
Now these might seem like pretty wild allegations; but here’s the thing. They are more than allegations because young Daniel captured these incidents on video while he was in that particular den of cowardly lions and TV3 also captured some on video.
Who put these cops up to this is so far, unclear. Whether they accepted bribes from certain civic people to do so is also unclear. What is clear however is the fact that they were encouraged by some of the city’s most senior leaders and some of their own to take this line, despite the fact it involved them acting illegally with the knowledge of those very same people and compromising the rule of law. You’d struggle to find a better definition of corrupt practices than that. Unless...........
You take the case of the officers who removed the Occupy Movement protesters from various sites around Auckland in January 2012. At the time it was claimed by protesters that several of the officers acted illegally and wore fake ID numbers so they could not be reported for their actions.
Since the allegations were made an investigation by Police has been carried out and surprise, surprise, they discovered the protesters were correct in saying that several officers had deliberately worn false ID numbers. Whether they actually did anything else illegal, I don’t know for sure, but the mere fact they falsified their ID badges, lends weight to the probability they did act illegally in other ways as well.
So what is the outcome, now that it is agreed these officers falsified their ID numbers? Are they to face disciplinary action from their supervisors? Will they face criminal charges of impersonation or fraud?
Don’t be silly. Nothing of any consequence is planned for these officers. Three were identified (presumably as a result of some amcam footage) and despite Police Commissioner Peter Marshall saying when the allegations first arose, "I hope it isn't true, but if such stupidity did occur - give me strength," and then later on his own blog on the Police website saying, "Talk about scoring an own goal.", the matter won’t even be referred to the useless Independent Police Complaints Authority. The IPCA, which incidentally is about as independent as you could expect anyone given the opportunity to investigate themselves with no scrutiny from anyone else would be expected to be, has refused to even look at it. Presumably they have so many other incidents from rogue coppers to look into they don’t have time for one that merely infringes the rights of scruffy urchins who dare to challenge the squeaky clean establishment. Anyone who dares to suggest the finance sector is less than upright must be.... oh, yeah....dead right.
So the upshot is that the three officers, who were eventually identified have been spoken to and told, “You are three naughty boys; now get back to work you little scallywags”. Geez, I’ll bet that showed ‘em and put the fear of God into ‘em. But questions remain unanswered; Who called the shots here? Who decided to gloss over this and let these pricks off? Was there some kind of kickback from those against whom the protests were mounted or was it the civic leaders of Auckland who called the tune?
In neither of these cases do we know for sure what happened, nor do we know whether the coppers took backhanders in the form of cash or whether this was a political jack-up.
However one thing is for sure; both incidents reek of corruption and if this sort of stuff isn’t nipped in the bud soon, we will climb those league tables and pretty swiftly too.
If they think about it long and hard enough even the slimy invertebrates that are behind each of these incidents must realise that could backfire against them too.
Our protesters are a bunch of nanas at the moment, but if this sort of shit goes on, you can probably expect them to turn to the sort of tactics protesters use in those countries at the top of those grubby league tabl