Pursuits balance law enforcement and safety

Pursuits balance law enforcement and safety

Howard Broad, Police Commissioner

Police pursuits demand a sensible balance between law enforcement and public safety.
 
Reckless drivers who travel at high speeds endanger the public, police staff, their passengers and themselves.
 
It is our responsibility to ensure the roads are as safe as possible for all users. We cannot allow unlawful or dangerous drivers to take over New Zealand's roads.
 
If criminals know police will not pursue them effectively, our efforts to uphold the law would become difficult, if not futile.
 
Yesterday, the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) released a report of its investigation into the fatal pursuit of Pehi Tahana in 2007. It came days after our own review of Police pursuits, the fourth such review in six years.
 
The way police respond to fleeing vehicles is a complex issue which we continuously review. Police make about 3.5 million traffic stops a year. Less than 1 percent result in a pursuit. The decision to pursue is never taken lightly and risk is assessed before and during each incident. Our first concern is always public and staff safety - catching the offender comes second.
 
In spite of the risks, the vast majority of pursuits are brought to a safe conclusion, testament to the skill of trained police officers and communications centre staff.
 
Since Pehi Tahana's tragic death, a number of adjustments have been made to our pursuits policy. We will continue to review and improve our training and policies to minimise risk, but I believe our duties of law enforcement and public safety are now well balanced.
 
While our ongoing focus is to make sure police staff comply with our pursuits policy, we look ahead to technological advances which are likely to play an important role in pursuits of the future.