Thursday, June 18, 2015

Discretion Is Part Of Natural Policing, On Licenses And Elsewhere - Ron Mark

Once again, Ron Mark perfectly encapsulates my views. ANYONE on the roads who's unlicensed or driving outside the conditions of their restricted is a potential hazard. Helping to ensure they get their license can be a positive step - but if this policy of non-ticketing unlicensed Maori drivers in South Auckland is a good one, then its benefits ought not be restricted on the basis of race.
Not least because, as some have pointed out, an officer might have a hard time working
 out who is and who isn't Maori for the purposes of the scheme. As Ron Mark - NZ First MP notes, there are a not insignificant number of blonde haired and blue eyed Maori these days. And surely if the argument behind the policy is that it's geared toward reducing offending and criminalization of an underclass, then Pasifika New Zealanders and hell, any Kiwi from a lower socio-economic background ought to qualify too.
Also, the way the Police Minister has handled this - by simply turning on those officers under his management and making out like it's their fault exclusively rather than fronting up and taking responsibility for the conduct and policy of the Ministry he's nominally in charge of - is just not on.

We saw the same thing with the dangerous "Zero Tolerance" speeding policy over Summer. When the heat went on, the Minister washed his hands rather than do his job.

Finally, and arguably most importantly, Ron raises the very sensible point that the terms being discussed - "Police Discretion" and "Diversion" used to be far more common hallmarks of "natural policing" than they are today.

There was nothing abnormal in the 1970s about a policeman using his discretion to frog-march a young (minor) offender back to their parents rather than insisting on charging him or her and putting them through the wringer of the official (even criminal) justice system to emerge with a black mark against their name.

As the host points out - not a few of our politicians would, today, be living lives *very* different to the ones they've got had they been in receipt of a conviction rather than a somewhat kindly disposed and understanding police officer. And our Nation would be all the poorer for it.

The use of discretion in community policing is sensible, and can do a power of good. But only if it's available to be applied across the board rather than exclusively on the basis of race; and further, as a matter of individual circumstance rather than top-down ham-fisted imposition.

Speaking of top-down ham-fisted impositions, it's a shame the Parliamentary boys in blue are so quick to throw the *real* boys in blue who protect our streets under the bus with such alarming regularity.

Mark my words - if this keeps up, there will be many a policeman voting NZF come Election Day 2017.

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