Police response to IPCA findings

Police response to IPCA findings

Counties Manukau

To be attributed to Counties Manukau District Commander Superintendent Jill Rogers:

Police acknowledge the findings by the Independent Police Conduct Authority which determined that it is not possible to draw any link between Police actions on 6 January 2016 and the tragic death of Joanne Pert the following day.

Ms Pert was murdered on 7 January 2016 while out for a run in Remuera by Tevita Filo, who was an undiagnosed schizophrenic.

As we have previously stated, our investigation following Jo’s death identified a 17-hour period in which Filo committed a range of previously unknown random offences against multiple victims. This spate included burglary, unlawfully on property, indecent assault, following others and the murder of Jo Pert.

The night before her death at approximately 11.30pm on 6 January 2016 police received a 111 call from a couple, who reported that they were being followed by a man in a car. Police responded immediately and within a short time, had pulled over Filo in his car. The officers searched his car and found a knife in his possession. This knife was confiscated.

The officers questioned Filo at length and checked the police system for further information He explained that he had the knife for his own protection. There were no alerts that Filo was wanted and there were no alerts that he had any mental health issues, or posed a danger to the public.

Based upon their assessment of the situation, the officers used their discretion, confiscated the knife and issued Filo with a roadside warning.

Counties Manukau District Commander Superintendent Jill Rogers says police also acknowledge the finding by the IPCA that our staff could have made further enquiries and that a dispatcher did not pass on all the available information including that the vehicle Tevita was using was linked to a theft of a loaf of bread.

“Our staff, both at our Communications Centre and on the ground have to make quick decisions in a fast-paced and challenging environment. Police officers are encouraged to use their discretion based upon their assessment of a situation, and this occurs every day, throughout the country. It is common practice for Police to issue roadside warnings for a variety of offences at the roadside.”

“In this roadside stop, our staff had to make a decision based on one interaction with Filo. They could not have foreseen what was going to happen. It is natural to try and rationalise what he did, but we now know that Tevita Filo was a very unwell man,” says Supt. Rogers.

“We would also note that the IPCA found that even if we had taken Tevita Filo back to the station and questioned him further, in all probability he would have been released on a pre-charge warning, and if he was charged would have been released that evening on Police bail,” says Supt. Rogers.

“We recognise that this has been a traumatic experience, not only for Jo Pert’s family and friends but for the other victims he encountered. As the court heard from medical experts, Tevita Filo was a very unwell man, he was an undiagnosed schizophrenic, who was able to mask his illness.”

“At this point in time, there is no intention to review any policy or operational strategy relating to the use of discretion in policing duties. In this case police have undergone a thorough review into the officers handling of the incident and are comfortable that their actions were in line with current policy and procedure. All frontline staff undergo regular training in conducting risk assessments and making decisions on situations they may encounter as part of their everyday policing duties,” says Supt. Rogers.

“Sadly, the two officers who dealt with him during one roadside encounter on that night did not have the benefit of hindsight and could not have foreseen the terrible events which followed.

ENDS
Shelley Nahr/NZ Police