Police Commissioner Howard Broad told the Government to drop the exemption for police bars, as it would show leadership.
But front-line officers disagreed, and he got rolled by his own minister.
“I’m actually very comfortable with trusting the police who run the police bars actually,” says Police Minister Judith Collins.
In chimes Police Association President Greg O’Connor:
“Police officers are vulnerable when they are drinking as identifiable groups out in the public – simply because those they police are more likely to have a go,” says Greg O’Connor.
So Police bars won’t have to keep to the new closing hours, or face any of the tougher penalties. They will remain a law unto themselves. By taking the position advocated by Collins and O’Connor, the Police become increasingly perceived as privileged and aloof; isolating themselves from the communities they are meant to serve.
There have been numerous reported incidents of criminal offending and inappropriate or thuggish behaviour by Police during or following drinking sessions in Police bars. That is part of what is wrong with Police culture, and why public respect for the Police is on the wane. Police bars should be subject to the same laws and controls as other licenced premises.
Public confidence in the Police is also undermined by the apparent continued tolerance of thuggery and corruption. In 2005, former Police officer and pack rapist Brad Shipton’s “little helper”, Senior Sergeant Dave Archibald, was reprimanded for unlawfully accessing the police computer system to dig dirt on the complainant in one of Shipton’s cases to pass on to a private investigator (and former Police colleague) working for Shipton’s defence team.
Archibald put helping his mate Shipton ahead of the law he was sworn to uphold. In any other part of the public service, such a blatant and corrupt breach of privacy would likely result in summary dismissal. But five years on, we now see Archibald promoted to Detective Inspector and put in charge of the Police College’s investigation and intelligence school, where he will no doubt instil his perverse cultural perspective of putting his loyalty to mates ahead of upholding the law into young Police officers in training.
Shipton’s sexual offending, incidentally, commenced following drinking sessions with young women in the Rotorua Police bar; and in 1995 the senior officer who was eventually jailed for covering up Shipton’s offending, John Dewar, was suspended and found guilty of insulting language after a confrontation with a young woman officer in that Police bar.
I’m among the first to want to see the Police change their culture and regain the public respect and confidence they have lost. On recent evidence, that isn’t going to happen soon.