Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: A Weird Day in the Hood

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  • Ben Gracewood,

    A possible final vindication for on-ramp signals?

    No, because they are not installed or enabled east-bound on the North-Western yet. And besides, they are an unforgivable abomination of a device that should be rended from this earth with extreme violence.

    I can't find the reference, but I'm positive that beyond a certain level, traffic control and signage actually become detrimental to safety.

    Orkland • Since Nov 2006 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    Can anyone elaborate on how the Independant Police Conduct Authority (or "Independant Police Complaints Authority" as everyone from One News to 3 News to the NZH to Wikipedia seems to call it) differs from the old Police Complaints Authority.

    As I recall, the change was made precisely because the PCA was not sufficiently independant of the Police (I must've read 20 or 30 times how a police chase fatality occurred "shortly after the chase was abandoned", and I don't recall the PCA ever finding otherwise.)

    Are there still (or are there no longer) concerns about the independance of the Authority?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Caleb D'Anvers,

    Vaguely off-topic, but interesting in a "what the hell...?" kind of way

    But I thought the election of a National government would instantly solve the Youth Crime OMGWTF Epidemic!

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 482 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    The other consideration, and one of which the prosecutors will be very aware, is that if they put this officer up for manslaughter they will do nothing good whatsoever for the general safety of the NZ public. It was bad enough with the private prosecution of Abbott, but to be prosecuted by the Crown would really make every officer faced with a lethal force situation think, potentially for far too long, very hard about the possibility that they'll end up in jail.

    Good. I want them to. better that than a police force which feels itself legally unaccountable for its actions. That way lies Clint Rickards...

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Ben Gracewood, I don't know if they're not yet working, or just not being used, but they definitely could be used to stop the flow of traffic onto the motorway in emergency incidents. A barrier arm would do a better job though :-) Preferably with a big sign next to them saying what the holdup is for.

    I thought I'd get bitter on them when I first saw them, too. But now they've been in place for a while I think they're brilliant. No substitute for bigger roads, but absolutely a complementary device, for improving traffic flows and safety.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Are there still (or are there no longer) concerns about the independance of the Authority?

    I'm sure there are still concerns, if only because it's one statutory body investigating another, but the people who have those particular concerns also tend to be concerned about whether or not their tin foil hats conform to the latest fashions :P

    The Police Complaints Authority, as much as it was claimed to be independent from the Police, still used cops to investigate cops, relied on internal police investigations to source much of its material, and was within the Police structure. The IPCA (I also thought it was Complaints, not Conduct, but the Act has Conduct both in its title and in the section where the Authority's name is established) is actually independent from the Police, not just as a matter of PR fiction, and that's as much as we can ever hope for.

    As for the public's willingness to digest this change, it remains to be seen. If the IPCA comes back with yet another vindication of Abbott (yes, they're reviewing Waitara), I imagine they'll remain suspect in the eyes of many for as long as it takes for the current generation to die off. Not much can be done about that.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    But I thought the election of a National government would instantly solve the Youth Crime OMGWTF Epidemic!

    You do realise Paula Bennett can't be everywhere at once?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1611 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    I thought I'd get bitter on them when I first saw them, too. But now they've been in place for a while I think they're brilliant. No substitute for bigger roads, but absolutely a complementary device, for improving traffic flows and safety.

    And backed up by some pretty impressive improvements in flow numbers etc if Transit's own reports are something you trust (admittedly many may not):


    Data gathered since the signals have been turned on has given the following results for individual sections of the Southern Motorway (SH1):

    Curran Street northbound
    * Improved northbound traffic flows on clip-on lanes on Auckland Harbour Bridge
    * 18% - increase in throughput of vehicles
    * 12% - improved peak period travel speeds

    Wellington Street northbound and Northwest - North/Port-North
    * 6% - increase in throughput of vehicles
    * 4.5% - increase in travel speeds

    Hobson Street to Market Road southbound
    * 15% increase in throughput of vehicles
    * 16% improved travel speeds
    * Commuter traffic cleared 20-30 mins earlier during afternoon peak periods
    * Safer merging and motorway incidents being cleared up to 15 minutes faster, to restore normal traffic flows

    Between central city and Ellerslie-Panmure, Mt Wellington and East Tamaki Interchanges southbound
    * Peak period traffic flows have been significantly improved
    * Shortened periods of congestion
    * Motorway is carrying significantly more traffic during peak periods than before
    * Travel speeds have increased

    Ramp signalling has been used for many years overseas as an integral part of comprehensive motorway management systems. The following statistics (averages) have been shown in similar projects in the United States and Europe, and are consistent with the expected outcomes in Auckland:
    * 9% - Increase in throughput of vehicles
    * 14% - Overall speed increase
    * 22% - Decrease in travel time
    * 24% - Reduction in crashes
    * 91% - Improvement in the reliability of journey times

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    We really do need to get this country beyond the belief that the Police police themselves. They don't, any longer. The Independent Police Conduct Authority is, in name and in law, independent of the Police.

    Name and law is window-dressing; what matters is practice. And there its not so good. Up until a few years ago, the (not-yet-independent) PCA got the police to do its investigations. This had the predictable result: "nothing to see here, move along". Now at least they have the budget and authority to employ their own investigators, and I hope like hell they'll be using one in ths case. Because as we've learned from the Louise Nicholas saga, the police have in the past had great problems policing themselves, and certainly shouldn't be trusted to do so if it can be avoided.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Good. I want them to. better that than a police force which feels itself legally unaccountable for its actions. That way lies Clint Rickards...

    I understand the point about police accountability.

    But Rickards? Are you trying to come up with offensively inappropriate comparisons for this incident?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Good. I want them to. better that than a police force which feels itself legally unaccountable for its actions.

    I want them to be aware of it, and they are, but I don't want it to be the thing at the forefront of their thoughts when they're deciding whether or not to pull the trigger as I'm being held hostage. Which is a likely outcome if this officer is prosecuted as arbitrarily as you are demanding.

    It was interesting that, even in the face of increasing violence toward them, support for general carry diminished amongst police officers. There's a suspicion on the part of the people who conduct that particular survey for the union that it's because of the incredible hell that descends upon any officer who uses lethal force. Had Abbott pondered his possible legal fate for another second, it's entirely like that it would've been he, not Wallace, who was buried. Without debating the merits of the shooting, I have far less sympathy for the death of a person who charges a police officer while wielding a weapon than I do for a police officer who dies at the hands of said person. I'm sure I'm not alone.

    Consider, before you starting jumping up and down and demanding that the police be held accountable, how rare police shootings are in this country. In 150-ish years of policing, they've shot fewer than 30 people, even with Friday's tragedy. That is not a body that needs to be reminded that they can't use lethal force with impunity.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I'm sure you're right. Whatever the charge is, the important part to me is that justice is seen to be done, by being done in open court - not in a backroom.

    I don't think any decision will be made in a back room. There will be a police investigation of the incident, focusing on whether any charges should be laid against officers. That will be reviewed at a senior level, and by the police legal section.

    The police will release their findings and front up at a press conference. Then I'd imagine it would probably also go to a crown solicitor, who is independent from the police. I can't really see any back room, sounds very public.

    An apparent lack of care cost an innocent person their life in this instance.

    Apparent lack of care implies if you're careful enough, you'll always hit your target. Which is unrealistic in a lot of the circumstances that AOS officers face. Given that the person was pursued for some time, police obviously took some care about what they were doing before they opened fire.

    It might just be "when guns are fired, occasionally bystanders get hurt, no matter how hard you try to prevent it".

    I'm completely happy to do that. We're not talking about a lot of staff, so the cost won't be great - even if we end up sending them off to train in the States (or whichever country produces the most skilled AOS type officers).

    You don't want to send them to the states at all. My father went on FBI training once there, and they did a shoot/don't shoot series of scenarios. The international cops were amazed at just how often the American cops chose 'shoot' in situations that they never would have. There's nothing wrong with our AOS staff, they rate very highly internationally, but they're only add-ons, not full time tactical units like they have some places in the world.

    It is quite a few staff - I think there's about about AOS units, so its well over two hundred officers. And firearms training is only a small part of their job, and their AOS job is only a small part of their normal job as police officers. Even if it was a day a month on training, that's at 10 cops you have to find to replace those on training duties. For a unit that has decades of almost perfect service?

    And I've never argued against this. The law allows me to use lethal force as well.

    Just never against, you know, innocent bystanders.

    You missed my point. There are laws - one in particular - that applies to police. So saying "they should be treated the same as everyone else" is incorrect. They aren't the same as everyone else, there is a law which lists a bunch of ways in which they're different. So a comparison with a civilian isn't valid, as the same rules don't apply.

    That's not the problem. The problem is they shot the wrong guy. Which ISN'T one of the powers we let them have.

    The police (and you, apparently) need to get their head around the fact that when they get it sufficiently wrong, they answer to us.

    It's not illegal to accidentally shot someone. It's illegal to murder, commit manslaughter, discharge a firearm outside of certain conditions, act irresponsibly with a firearm etc. Any decision to prosecute the police officer, will work with what it's illegal to do. Accidentally shooting someone while confronting an armed offender actually isn't illegal. With good reason, because accidents are sometimes just that, accidents.

    This is an unprecented circumstance, I'm not sure that they're qualified to make the decision - unless the facts make it incredibly bleeding obvious that the officer in question really had no other choice.

    What about the circumstances makes the IPCA suddenly unqualified? They're an independent body acting under statute.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Ask Antonie "Samurai Sword" Dixon how sympathetic the courts are to a "The upside-down b made me do it, y'ronner" defence.

    and it would seem "I was sexually abused"

    According to Granny he's now appealing for a third trial for the murders. I mean, seriously, how many times must a jury be confronted by the same nutjob?

    As many times as it takes to get it right seriously.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    My only beef with ramp signals is Gilles Ave. It's pushed the motorway's congestion out into the surrounding suburbs for over a kilometre. It's ridiculous. St Mark's Rd screws up Mauranui pretty bad, but it's possible to get around that. Getting around Newmarket when Gilles is jammed is incredibly painful.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Are you tryingto come up with inappropriately offensive comparisons for this incident?

    No, I'm pointing out the inevitable consequences of a feeling of unaccountability: systematic abuse of power and apparent criminal behaviour.

    If you'd prefer, I can quote Acton instead. But Rickards is a more concrete and timely reminder.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Gareth, I'm glad there's stats to back my totally subjective feeling that the traffic flows a lot better than it did. It does stand to reason whenever you see what a herd of animals (including human animals) is like when a lot of them are trying to get through a bottleneck. They're actually slower than if they were a bit more ordered, and certainly being ordered is fairer and safer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Damn, looks like I was caught between versions there...

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    But I thought the election of a National government would instantly solve the Youth Crime OMGWTF Epidemic!

    You do realise Paula Bennett can't be everywhere at once?

    Very good!

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    Name and law is window-dressing; what matters is practice.

    Lowell Goddard J. is hardly window-dressing.

    And there its not so good. Up until a few years ago, the (not-yet-independent) PCA got the police to do its investigations. This had the predictable result: "nothing to see here, move along".

    Duh, which is why it got changed. Got a point to make or are you still just trying to justify your intemperate blogging?

    Right now, one part of your nick is heavily outwaying the other.

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Damn, looks like I was caught between versions there...

    Oh yeah: sorry. Versioning is my special power ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Consider, before you starting jumping up and down and demanding that the police be held accountable, how rare police shootings are in this country

    I know how rare they are. And I want them to stay that way.

    Beyond that, "I don't do it very often, therefore you should ignore it" is not an excuse the police would accept from anyone. I do not see why we should accept it from them. Those who enforce the law must be seen to be accountable to it.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    No, I'm pointing out the inevitable consequences of a feeling of unaccountability: systematic abuse of power and apparent criminal behaviour.

    Whilst ignoring the consequences of a feeling of over-accountability - total inaction, and letting criminals get away with their behavior. There is naturally a balance to be struck but I haven't seen much to say that NZ police aren't pretty bloody admirable on this score.

    Tell me, I/S, what you would have done? Stood nearby shouting helplessly? Run up and grabbed the gun wielder with your bare hands? Shot the gun out of his hands from the top of Mt Albert? Let him escape with a hostage? Hurried home to blog about it?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Caleb D'Anvers,

    But I thought the election of a National government would instantly solve the Youth Crime OMGWTF Epidemic!

    You do realise Paula Bennett can't be everywhere at once?

    Yes, well played, Sir.

    I think this is a golden media branding opportunity for National. CSI: Paula Bennett! Police Paula Bennett 10-7! I want to see her out there, in live, grainy TV feed, springing on sullen youths from moving police cars!

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 482 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    I want to see her out there, in live, grainy TV feed, springing on sullen youths from moving police cars!

    My solution involved cloning and jetpacks, but hey, we'll reach for the dream one step at a time.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1611 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    But if there's any doubt, it has to be up to the courts to decide.

    Why?

    I would like to see the law applied as it has been written for this circumstance. If the due process is IPCA then follow that. If it is straight to the courts follow that. The police are operating under a particular code set out by us for them.

    So don't make up some shit on the fly just because it suits your particular view of the police or criminal fraternity. That is not justice.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

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