Since 2007 there have been five accidents caused by police cars u-turning to chase motorists or to respond to calls. Two of these have involved collisions with cars, which have resulted in damage but no injuries. The other three have been collisions with motorcycles.
In December 2007 two riders were seriously injured when a police car turned across their path near Nelson. In the same month another rider was badly hurt when a police car u-turned near Maramarua. And now, seemingly inevitably, a rider has been killed by a police car u-turning near the crest of a rise near Te Kauwhata.
The question has to be asked – what the hell is going on with police driver training, attitudes, and practice.
After the sentencing of the officer responsible for injuring the riders in the Buller Gorge, the prosecuting investigating officer Detective Senior Sergeant Tony Bernards was quoted as saying the verdict was “satisfying“. He went on to say that :
“He believed the crash was an “aberration” and would not prompt regular officer training.
The police manual required officers to be prudent and competent drivers and not put other motorists at risk.
This was a very unusual event.”
One isolated accident might well constitute an ‘aberration’ an ‘unusual event’
Five such incidents indicates to me that there is a systemic problem, and now as well as people still recovering from serious injuries we have seen a death.
We need to see a comprehensive and independent review of this tragedy, we need to see a commitment from police to affect whatever changes are necessary to avoid a repeat, and we need t o see it all happen very openly and very quickly. Nothing less will do.
Today’s story from the Dominion Post: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/national/3599019/Police-U-turn-death-spurs-review-call