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From Decoy Cops to Keystone Cops

Simon Power National Party Law & Order Spokesman

17 May 2006

From Decoy Cops to Keystone Cops

Civilian guards in police uniform are abusing their powers, giving sworn officers a bad name, and further destroying public confidence in the police, says National's Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power.

"If reported examples of abuses of power are anything to go by, these Decoy Cops are causing a serious problem."

Examples include:

* Driving through Christchurch with a patrol car's flashing lights on, with cars pulling over to let the car through, because the Decoy Cop didn't know how to turn the lights off.

* Giving school talks in uniform, under the guise of a police officer, despite being untrained in most aspects of police work.

* Picking up friends from the airport in uniform so friends would think the temporary officer was a sworn officer.

* Asking Telecom for an urgent telephone connection 'because she was a police officer'.

* Writing 'Police Officer' on an immigration form to get through Customs quickly.

"This has gone from Decoy Cops to Keystone Cops, and it would be funny if it weren't so serious. This is the sort of problem I warned Annette King about last week.

"The use of these decoys has gone from 17 in 2005 to 330 this year, and now the Government says it will hire 32 more to 'provide an initial police response' to 'non-urgent calls' in high-crime areas such as Counties Manukau.

"They are going to have enough trouble rebuilding the confidence in the police that this Government has destroyed without having Keystone Cops running around like headless chooks destroying it further.

"Annette King must do what she told Parliament last week and ensure these Decoy Cops surrender their uniforms once they cease duty.

"It is dangerous and misleading to have untrained civilians, who could be mistaken for trained officers, dealing with the public. If you are dressed like a police officer then the public expects you to have the same powers and training as one.


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