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CMPD: Local policing promotes healthy culture


Local policing approaches promote healthy culture in country's toughest District


Counties Manukau District Commander, Superintendent Steve Shortland, says he is pleased but not surprised that an investigation into the culture of the Counties Manukau Police found no evidence to support allegations of a culture of violence or inappropriate conduct.

Superintendent Shortland said he was proud of the police officers working in the District who deal with a difficult and demanding workload in a professional and committed manner.

Superintendent Shortland was responding to the report of the Hon Sir David Tompkins QC to the Commissioner of Police about Counties Manukau Police District.

What the investigation did find was some indications of localised issues around the Emergency Response Group which was disbanded on 31 March 2004.

"We have restructured the District so that there is better community liaison and ownership by police of community policing problems. The policing model under, the now disbanded ER Group operated, did not fit with where the District is going", he said.

While the report commented that excessive force 'has probably not been eliminated' Mr Shortland said while not condoning excessive force, it needs to be remembered that policing frequently deals with raw, unpredictable, human emotion, often fuelled by drugs and alcohol, and a very small number of officers can overreact. He said that the District works hard on giving officers the training and guidance to deal with such situations in a controlled and professional manner.

"Without a doubt, Counties Manukau is the most difficult district in the country in terms of the environment encountered by front-line police. There are high numbers of 111 calls where life and limb are threatened. The behaviour of people on the roads, in public places and in their homes is worse than in other districts. This does have an influence on the assertiveness required to deal with aggressive offenders as officers are called upon to deal with violent situations more often than their colleagues in the rest of the country.

Superintendent Shortland said that the District could always do with more staff and he would continue to lobby the Office of the Commissioner on this issue, but resourcing could never be blamed for the misconduct of any officer.

The District received 34 more staff in the Government new initiatives in 0506, which was twice as many as any other District in the country. This is regarded as an acknowledgement of the policing challenges and demands that exist in the District.

A number of initiatives have been put in place in the District over the last two years that have already addressed some of the issues raised in the report and reinforce a culture of professional and ethical policing. For example, the District has implemented a professional standards Early Intervention Policy designed to identify behaviour that may cause concern early on in an officer's career then performance manage the officer concerned before that behaviour leads to a prosecution.

"I would be happy to say that in today's environment our people would be more inclined to raise the flag if they were not happy with certain behaviour."

Mr Shortland said police officers in Counties Manukau have achieved some outstanding successes over the past couple of years and pointed to an Awards Ceremony held last week where 50 awards for good conduct, long service, exceptional work on major enquiries and bravery were handed out to staff.

"While it is true there is a comparatively high number of officers under training, that is nothing new for the District and what some officers lack in experience is made up for with their enthusiasm and energy."

"There is some very experienced and hardworking staff in this District. Some of our key people have over 30 years service. The higher level of recruits does drag the average down but experience does not equate with integrity. Our new cops are men and women of high calibre."

"Our goal is to continue to reinforce our culture which is based on our values of integrity, professionalism, customer focus, innovation and respect for diversity. While international research shows that the goal of completely eliminating excessive force may be unattainable, especially in such a violent environment as is encountered in parts of Counties Manukau, I can assure the people of Counties Manukau that we will be vigilant and any complaints will be vigorously investigated' the Superintendent said.


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