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Doone To Retire Early - PM

25 January 2000

Statement on Commissioner of Police

“The Commissioner of Police has asked to take early retirement”, the Prime Minister Helen Clark said today.

“After considering the Police Complaints Authority Report and after consulting with a range of colleagues, the Commissioner has decided that it would be better for the Police if he were to leave office now.

Cabinet has considered this today, and we agree that this is the best thing to do to avoid creating any perceptions that there are two standards for the administration of the law in New Zealand.

“There has been a lot of public comment since the incident when the Commissioner’s partner was stopped while driving in Wellington late last year.

Those comments were made without full knowledge of the facts. The Government has been determined to follow a fair and thorough process so that all the facts could be known.

“The Police Complaints Authority has concluded that, on the evidence available, no excess blood alcohol levels were involved and that Mr Doone believed at the time of the incident that his vehicle had been routinely stopped without a road safety issue being involved.

This finding indicates that the Authority accepts that there is no evidence that the Commissioner acted other than in good faith. The Police Complaints Authority, however, further concluded that the Commissioner’s action in interacting with the constable in the way he did that night was undesirable.

“Because the incident was not fully resolved, and the constable never spoke to the driver of the car, there is an inevitable ongoing ambiguity. Rather than allowing this ambiguity to continue, Mr Doone has decided to clear the air by retiring forthwith.

He will go on leave as from today, and will formally relinquish his position as Commissioner on 29 February 2000.

“Mr Doone’s early retirement has resolved this situation in an appropriate way. Accordingly, the Government has not needed to decide whether or not Mr Doone retained its confidence as Commissioner.

I do wish to comment, however, that there is much to be impressed about in Mr Doone’s career and the Government does not wish to lose his experience at this time.

In addition by taking early retirement Mr Doone is losing the opportunity to work through a notice period. That is why the Government is offering him six months more work at his Commissioner’ s salary.

“The six month contract will be in the area of combatting and preventing Maori crime. This is an area in which Mr Doone is presently making an important contribution. Several testimonials from Maori leaders tell of his efforts.

The Maori crime rate, along with other disparities between Maori and other New Zealanders, is also an area which is a top priority for the Government and one in which I have announced I will be taking a close personal interest. Though Mr Doone will be formally contracted by the Police, he will be seconded to the Crime Prevention Unit in my own department.

“Until a new Commissioner of Police is appointed, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr Rob Robinson, will be the Acting Commissioner.”

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