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Hawkins toying with police cars

Brian Neeson

Opposition Police Spokesman

8 June 2000

Hawkins toying with police cars

Any moves to continue to reduce the road toll will be welcomed by New Zealanders but we should not be throwing money away on cosmetic changes, says Opposition Police spokesman Brian Neeson.

"Police Minister George Hawkins is pursuing his own hobby horse in the creation of a new Highway Patrol.

"We need to continue to put more police on the beat - not segregate our police force based on the car they drive or the uniform they wear. All of our police should be there to catch criminals, whether it's a drunk driver or a burglar. The last thing we need is fewer Police on the beat.

"This move will create a culture where people working in traffic will be treated as second class citizens by their colleagues.

"National established specialist traffic units within our police force in 1998. Mr Hawkins should not be wasting police resources for what is really only a cosmetic change.

"Mr Hawkins staunchly opposed the 1992 merger of police and traffic from the outset. He said "..the situation which sparked the Los Angeles riots is being recreated in New Zealand with the police-traffic merger". Because, he said, police are trained to deal with violent people and once they start doing traffic duties it is easy to imagine them "being far more confrontational with apparently drunken drivers than our traffic officers are at present".

"The LA-style riots never eventuated but Mr Hawkins has always harbored a grudge against the merger. Both the Police Minister and Prime Minister have a highly negative view of our police force. To compare our officers to those in LA is ludicrous," Mr Neeson said.


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