No place for bad behaviour in Police

No place for bad behaviour in Police

Howard Broad, Police Commissioner

Allegations of violence by police have recently been covered in the media.
 
In 2009, 14 police officers were charged with assault.
 
It has been suggested this signals a systemic problem in the organisation. I confidently believe this is not the case. The figures don't reflect a growing frequency of assault by police officers but a growing intolerance of this type of behaviour.
 
Our 8,500 police officers have five million contacts with the public every year, often in the most difficult and challenging circumstances. People like to think police aren't human but in reality they are and, occasionally, things go wrong.
 
We are always acutely aware of unacceptable behaviour in Police. When allegations arise it’s important to put each case to the test. We respond objectively and with determination.
 
At Police district level, senior staff reinforce the high standards of professional and ethical behaviour expected of all staff.
 
The local investigation is strengthened by oversight from the Professional Standards Unit at Police National Headquarters in Wellington. If necessary, the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) holds a separate inquiry.
 
While Police 'culture' is hard to pin down, you can learn a lot simply by talking to people in their work environment.
 
It is reflected in how police employees are tasked to do their duties, and what they count as success. A focus on the number of people arrested is not a healthy approach - officers should be aiming to prevent crime before it happens.
 
The way senior staff train colleagues on the job also makes a big difference. Police officers have a number of ways to calm potentially threatening situations, such as talking, separating people, getting them to move on or calling for backup. In a healthy police culture, officers exhaust these options before turning to force.

Every incident where an officer is found to have assaulted somebody is unacceptable and disappointing. But to me, 14 charges out of five million contacts with the public does not signify a systemic problem.