Tuesday, 27 April 2004 - 10:01am |
National News

Senior Police back North Shore Commander's decision

1 min read

The Police Commissioner’s Office has backed the decision of its North Shore operational commander to close two lanes of the Harbour Bridge this morning.

Assistant Commissioner Peter Marshall said that public safety was of paramount concern and any uncontrolled disruption on the Bridge would have put the lives of motorists, police and the protesters at risk.

"We have learned from past experience that just one or two vehicles stopping on bridge lanes can cause chaos. Put pedestrians in that mix and there would be a recipe for disaster.

"Superintendent Dick Trimble has a long and distinguished career in road policing and has supervised police operations on the Auckland motorway system for many years. The Police Executive have absolutely no doubts that Dick’s operational call was the right one.

"Certainly the economic disruption costs were factored in to the operational decision-making but it was on safety grounds that the decision was taken.

"Local bodies in Auckland and on the North Shore were well briefed on the decision-making which at the end of the day could only be made by Police exercising our constitutional responsibilities concerning public safety."

Assistant Commissioner Marshall said technical arguments such as the potential for damage to the bridge by large numbers of people causing sway had also been taken into consideration in discussions with Transit engineers.

"Expectations are that there will be far fewer than the 5000 runners who successfully crossed the bridge during the BMW Marathon. Police would exert sufficient crowd control measures to ensure a measured flow over the bridge in the unlikely event that considerably more people turned up.

"The operation has been meticulously planned. The two lanes will be reopened to all traffic as soon as possible after the marchers have passed," said Assistant Commissioner Marshall.