Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Narcissists and bullies

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  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Henry Barnard,

    A time to consider introducing a quota system to encourage a significant increase in the number of women in the police force?

    Quotas in a job which has legitimate physical demands can be really dangerous. There are lower physical requirements for females already, but a quota would potentially see those cut further just to get the numbers; this isn’t supposition, it’s what has been seen in the US with affirmative action for police and fire departments.
    If you’re not a white male you’re already higher up the hiring priority list for the police. Making it a place where women want to work and enough apply that the best candidates can be selected is a more enduring course of action. Quotas just raise suspicion that people got in to fill the numbers rather than on merit, particularly amongst those whose numbers are deemed sufficient that they don’t need a quota (ie: white males).

    And especially at higher levels?

    A suggestion I heard fairly recently was to allow re-hires to come back in at a rank above constable, provided they have adequate experience outside the police (or previously within the police) to support the supervisory requirements. NZ is fairly unusual in forcing everyone to start as constable every time they are hired, regardless of previous policing experience. Makes it exceptionally hard for women who take time for having children to climb the ladder.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    I think that I'll be having pork for dinner tonight, as a symbolic gesture.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Christ, what a mess.

    I'm normally one of the people on here defending the police, but there's not much to be said about this. How the officer in charge can say "no girls have been brave enough to make a complaint" when one had two years ago.

    They're going to struggle to fit all this under the carpet.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Dastardly Bounder, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    They're going to struggle to fit all this under the carpet

    They'll put in under the gaudy carpet in the new casino, plenty of space there

    Auckland • Since Dec 2012 • 61 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Jason Kemp,

    I hope our faith in the IPCA is justified but given the history so far it would seem little has changed.

    The IPCA isn’t, strictly speaking, responsible for the administration of the post-Nichols change programme.

    I wonder if there are any women in Senior roles with the Police as it must be a very tough culture

    Paula Rose was, I believe, the most-senior woman in the NZ Police at the time of her retirement in terms of rank (after Superintendent the ranks have “Commissioner” in them) and role. There isn’t a single woman serving as a district commander (also Superintendent-rank roles), and the only women on the executive are non-sworn general managers of support functions.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • RaggedJoe,

    I have a daughter and a son, late teens and early twenties. I cannot imagine the world the young people involved in this issue inhabit as it seems so distant from what I see.

    I am horrified and disgusted and scared about what this implies for our society. As a reaction to the helpless dread I feel, I have written to Anne Tolley expressing my deep concerns.

    City of Sales • Since Sep 2008 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Greg Dawson,

    Have been wondering how hard it must be to be a female police officer; maybe as bad as being in the military? Which is fucking awful to consider, given what we know about that.

    Not easy. I know an ex-cop, female and gay, who's from a long line of police but was forced out (pun unintentional). It wasn't pleasant. I know another woman whose ex-husband worked as a civilian employee of the police and used their resources to stalk her and her children. They are an organised pack of misogynistic fucks is all that I can say. I could say what I really think, but wiping the spit off my monitor repeatedly is tedious.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Quotas in a job which has legitimate physical demands can be really dangerous.

    I think that’s overstated in the case of the police. Most of the job isn’t manhandling massive suspects to the ground after a parkour session. It’s going around talking to people, taking good notes, and filling out paperwork. For the violent stuff, they are armed with batons, tasers, pepper spray, body armor, handcuffs, and typically there are guns close at hand, although not usually worn. But they also have their most important four weapons – their radio, their eyes, and the power of their official position, and the fact that they are an army.

    Indeed, the high regard the NZ police are held in compared to other nation’s forces comes down to their actual lack of OTT power. They don’t routinely kill people who aren’t a very serious threat. And such resentment as is held towards the police nowadays is often on their tendency to overuse brute force when it isn’t necessary, to manhandle handcuffed suspects, or beat them up more than necessary in the process of apprehension, to yell at them in a threatening way, always much more frightening coming from a big powerful man. Or to just be the kind of person you really don’t want to talk to because they’re scary people, the kind of person you don’t want to tell about having been raped because they themselves are reminding you of the rapist during the interview.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Maz, in reply to Hebe,

    "Thank you to all the men in the thread recognising in their comments the culture change needed."

    Hebe, you were exactly right in complaining about the lack of generosity of spirit in the Henrys, JTs and Willies of this world (oh, and most N drivers). This place has it in spades, which makes it a pleasure to frequent.

    I think we as men really need to be brave enough to actually talk our sons and other boys, not just grunt and go fishing. It takes real skills to be a human being, and it would seem that too many grow up not learning them.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 30 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    I’m normally one of the people on here defending the police, but there’s not much to be said about this. How the officer in charge can say “no girls have been brave enough to make a complaint” when one had two years ago.

    And as I noted on the previous page, the Waitemata superintendent is now saying only that the other three complaints had "not progressed" to a formal stage. I have a feeling we may find out that formal complaints were not exactly encouraged.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Russell Brown,

    You can be discrete Russell - it's your blog and you're a gentleman. Personally, I can't get over that. Two phrases keep running through my head: "Thirteen year-old girls" and "cop's son". An effective, legitimate police force is a democratic institution, resting on the support and trust of the people. They've destroyed that trust and that problem is going to require a carpet as big as the Andromeda Galaxy to be swept under.

    If that wasn't bad enough, there's "JT", Jackson and Fagan and "JT" (why doesn't he just call himself "Brut 33"?), already an animal-abuser, complains that he's a victim? That's it, words fail me, I'm off and it's pork on the menu.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to BenWilson,

    Quotas in a job which has legitimate physical demands can be really dangerous.

    I think that’s overstated in the case of the police. Most of the job isn’t manhandling massive suspects to the ground after a parkour session. It’s going around talking to people, taking good notes, and filling out paperwork. For the violent stuff, they are armed with batons, tasers, pepper spray, body armor, handcuffs, and typically there are guns close at hand, although not usually worn.

    Brute physical strength isn’t a huge part of the job of a fire fighter, either, but when you need it you really need it. Having access to a firearm isn’t much use if you lack the grip strength to keep it under control, or if you can’t hold onto someone long enough to get the cuffs on.
    The physical testing for a police officer is, aside from the endurance testing, mostly consistent across genders (have to tread water for the same time, dive the same distance to retrieve the same weight brick, swim the same distance in the same maximum time), but women have to meet lower criteria for grip strength and jump height requirements. Grip, in particular, is quite a key part of a police officer’s use of force, and there’s already a 44kg difference between the male and female requirement.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Also, behind the suggestion of a quota for women in the police is perhaps some suggestion or assumption that those women will somehow provide a civilizing influence (sorry if that's not what you meant, Pops). But would they? Or will they feel the need to be more blokish than the blokes in order to ensure they have a career? Will they, like male officers, come from part of society that thinks that the standard of consent for women or girls who wear short skirts and/or drink alcohol is lower than for sober women in loose denim coveralls? These views are by no means restricted to men.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    when you need it you really need it

    The question is: Is the need for it the overriding concern for the whole entry to the job? The same argument applies to carrying a gun - when you need a gun, you really need a gun. But that's still not a good enough argument to always carry a gun. Because when you don't need it, perhaps you shouldn't have it. And you can't take crushing grip strength away from people and lock it in a safe. It's something that can be used to hurt people constantly, and it's a really insidious kind of force - you can't really see how hard someone is being crushed or twisted, and there's always the argument that the person hurt themselves by resisting too much.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to BenWilson,

    Indeed, the high regard the NZ police are held in compared to other nation’s forces comes down to their actual lack of OTT power. They don’t routinely kill people who aren’t a very serious threat. And such resentment as is held towards the police nowadays is often on their tendency to overuse brute force when it isn’t necessary, to manhandle handcuffed suspects, or beat them up more than necessary in the process of apprehension, to yell at them in a threatening way, always much more frightening coming from a big powerful man. Or to just be the kind of person you really don’t want to talk to because they’re scary people, the kind of person you don’t want to tell about having been raped because they themselves are reminding you of the rapist during the interview.

    And however tempting it may be, routinely arming the NZ Police would likely make things worse. I’m not the only one to suspect that if it came to pass, NZ’s criminal element will make its arsenal bigger, instead of waving the white flag on their knees.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Brodie Davis, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And as I noted on the previous page, the Waitemata superintendent is now saying only that the other three complaints had “not progressed” to a formal stage. I have a feeling we may find out that formal complaints were not exactly encouraged.

    This whole formal complaint thing just seems like weasel words to me. I know I have used similar when dealing with internal escalations that I don't really want to deal with (note IT support and dealing with helpdesks not wanting to do their own work, and just wanting to throw it up the pipe).

    I would hope that every complaint to the police where someone has been interviewed has a complaint number (and as such is formal). So from this perspective, it sounds more like "we couldn't be bothered with the paperwork, so told them to go away" than anything else.

    Since Aug 2008 • 54 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    This was over three decades ago ...

    Police - a UK TV series

    I was a teenager in England at the time and I remember the rape episode and its aftermath. Worth seeing again, for comparison (the more things change etc.). The comment today that a female police officer should take such complaints was "new" ... 30 years ago.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Or will they feel the need to be more blokish than the blokes in order to ensure they have a career?

    It's certainly not automatic that they wouldn't be. But so far as rape culture is concerned, I think they'd be less tolerant, just from a perspective thing. Our thoughts about sex are formed quite young, and I'd suggest men are more likely to simply see a rape complaint from a boy's point of view - "would it be reasonable to expect sex in this situation", whereas a woman will more likely have directly experienced the powerful desire to go out dressed nicely and to have fun, and maybe even have sex, if they consent at the time. Even if what happens is that when the coppers are discussing the interview the woman is putting it from someone who was themselves once a teenage girl, that would have a good impact on the decision making. I'm not suggesting men have a rape gene that they have to suppress, just that they have only one perspective, and it is the same one as vast majority of the perpetrators, and not that of the vast majority of the victims.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to BenWilson,

    when you need it you really need it

    The same could be said for empathy. 'Grip' is not a substitute.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • stephen clover, in reply to BenWilson,

    I dunno, I might be alone in this but I kinda feel this thread of the convo is veering into sexist hogwash territory.

    EDIT: I'm possibly just a little over-sensitive though, given the level of utter horror I am experiencing over all this.

    wgtn • Since Sep 2007 • 355 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to BenWilson,

    And you can’t take crushing grip strength away from people and lock it in a safe.

    52kg combined-hand grip strength isn't "crushing" - it's the single-hand point where a 17-year-old male is considered strong (as opposed to being of normal strength for their age). Men have to demonstrate 96kg, which is considerably more power; are you all up in arms about that?

    Policing, for all the nice talk about it being about doing paperwork and talking to people, is still a job which places physical demands on those who are so engaged. Take away or reduce the physical testing because it makes people feel good, or lets people through a quota, or whatever, and there are actual, real consequences. I'm sure you'd be one of the first to cry foul if incidences of use of firearms or Tasers increased because officers were not required to meet such rigorous physical standards, but if you don't have the strength the only alternative is to use a weapon.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Dawson, in reply to Richard Aston,

    I am not saying forget about the rapists, yes we need to deal with that – and strongly – but I am saying lets at least explore the causes.
    Just saying.

    Absolutely, and what Hebe said too.

    I think we can agree to exercise our powers of holding more than one thought in our heads at a time and say yes, rape culture needs to be stomped, and rapists are still choosing to do things that others exposed to that culture do not. It's not an either or situation.

    I apologise if I came across as trivialising this or being flippant, that was not my intent.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 294 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I would hope that every complaint to the police where someone has been interviewed has a complaint number (and as such is formal). So from this perspective, it sounds more like “we couldn’t be bothered with the paperwork, so told them to go away” than anything else.

    The guy on firstline was a little vague, but a formal complaint by my understanding would require certain things. There's a broad report form, but in the case of a sexual assault or violation the victim would be formally interviewed, a statement completed with the victim and signed. There would often be video taken in that time. The police officer talked about dolls being used to reinact. Often photos of injuries would be taken, and if the incident was recent medical staff would complete a rape kit.

    All this creates a police file which is given a unique number and puts it into the system. It wouldn't all be compulsory, but for a case to be pursued I'd imagine the statement from the victim, or eyewitness reports from an informant would be a minimum.

    In the case of domestic violence (at least when I worked in this area briefly in the 90s) there's a separate domestic violence form which has to be completed which provides additional information. This came in 20something years ago when the police started to move into the 20th century on domestic violence.

    A 'complaint' might not complete some or all of these steps. Perhaps victims came to talk to police but didn't want to complete and sign a statement. Perhaps police said "lets get your parents in so they can support you" and the victims backed away at that stage. Perhaps they didn't want to complete medical exams. It's no doubt a crappy process.

    And yes, as Russell pointed out, perhaps police encouraged these young women not to take it further :(

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Men have to demonstrate 96kg, which is considerably more power; are you all up in arms about that?

    I think it’s overkill that they need double the grip strength of a strong 17 year old man, yes.

    Take away or reduce the physical testing because it makes people feel good, or lets people through a quota, or whatever, and there are actual, real consequences.

    And there are actual real consequences of the testing too, the big reduction in the potential pool, and the exclusion of other qualities that could form far, far more of the day to day job of a cop. Of the cops I know, actually using their strength is piss all of their job, the way they tell it.

    Perhaps another way of putting it would help. Clearly having a high IQ would also be of benefit to the police. When you need it you really, really need it. Being not quite smart enough has real consequences. Would it make sense that the average cop should be in the upper quartile for this quality? Should they be twice as smart as the average person, since they also need to be twice as strong?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Graham,

    Is there a scientific basis for the various physical requirements or is it just the idea that you have to be as strong as a real man do to a real man's job?

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 118 posts Report Reply

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