Unobjectionable? Or condoning police brutality? by underground

The Dom post reported in its weekend edition that an officer had been reprimanded for forwarding an offensive email. The email was a mock 1970’s children’s book that illustrated policemen as brutal, homophobic, sexist, racist and corrupt. The officer involved was stood down for two days and questioned about the email.

The mock book was hilarious, but was it offensive? The Dom post reported that Police Association spokesman Luke Shadbolt said the book was a spoof and he did not know what was objectionable about it. “Most policemen found it funny.” National MP Chester Borrows said it was ridiculous to stand the officer down when his services were needed. The stories angle appeared to show that the Post agreed that it was harmless fun.

But when considering the recent Louise Nicholas case, and various other examples of corruption and sickening behaviour in our nation’s Police force, should this type of material be considered offensive? If this email was to be condoned, does that not tell police officers that these attitudes are acceptable?

I will disclose my bias: I have a complaint pending investigation by the Police complaints authority. I assure you it is a slow process of which I have next to no faith in. I was arrested along with my brother two years ago, for obstructing a police officer. This was a ridiculous charge, as the matter was thrown out in court (after half a dozen court appearances and several thousand dollars lawyers fees). To cut a long story short, after a concert I saw my brother being arrested. As my brother was coming home with us, I calmly asked the officers why he was being arrested and where he was being taken. The told me fuck off, I told them that was bullshit, and I walked back to meet my friends. The officers cuffed my brother to a fence, chased 100 metres up the road, and tackled me to the ground. I was taken down to the processing area at the stadium. I naively thought that as I had done nothing wrong, if I cooperated I would be free to go. They accused me of trying to free my brother from the officers’ grasp, punching one of the officers, tackling both officers into the ground (I weigh 60 kgs, these officers would probably weigh over 90 each), resisting arrest and best of all, attempting to incite a riot!

My brother had clearly had the shit kicked out of him; he was beaten up pretty bad when we were reunited in the paddy wagon. We both were complaining about his handcuffs being on too tight, his hands had turned blue and were bleeding around the plastic cuffs. The officers were not concerned, instead were calling him a “cry baby” and a “faggot”. Eventually a female officer looked at the cuffs and struggled to cut them off.

Later in the station, my brother asked to speak to a lawyer. The one officer who was the most violent thug of them all (can I legally name names?) punched him into the window. He lay unconscious on the ground, yet the cops were convinced he was faking it. I have been told that there is a camera in that room, but we didn’t immediately file a complaint as we thought it could jeopardise our case (the cops were intent on me accepting guilt; every court appearance we learnt that their account of events had become more divorced from the truth). The footage has apparently been recorded over.

The only thing the officers appeared to have done right over the course of the whole saga was not compare their notes, which was the downfall of their case as both officers involved purged themselves with two completely different accounts! The judge through it out before I even had the chance to tell the court what really happened.

I don’t care if you don’t believe the events I have just described, but many people do. Many New Zealanders have witnessed similar acts of police brutality. So when many officers have the same attitudes displayed in the mock book, how can anyone, particularly a National MP and a Police spokesman say that is unobjectionable and ridiculous to punish the officer involved. Would we be happy if corrections gave prisoners Grand Theft Auto to play? Of course not. I think there is something of a parallel here.

I wish to add that I have not let what happened to me make me a cop hater. I have met too many pleasant officers to generalise that they are all corrupt and violent. But am skeptical when I hear the official police side of a story. I know they can lie to cover their tracks and I know that they will assault people in custody. I also know many do a great job, at a great personal cost and risk to themselves. To them I would say that the actions of others give the police a bad name. So it is important that they do not accept this sort of behaviour from colleagues. Many officers on that night two years ago did indulge in the brutality of their peers, but they did not stop them either. And doing nothing is condoning this abuse of power.


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Update time!

This post was really a way to vent my previous bad police experience, using the book email as a way to show that disgusting attitudes actually exist in the force. I had since got over this whole experience and have no problem with police in general, even writing a favourable piece about an officers work in the community.

Unfortunately the whole thing has resurfaced with the police complaint. And what a waste of time that was! I have never felt so weak. The cop who came to my house basically said that their case fell apart because they went with the wrong charge. He says if they had have gone with “assaulting a police officer”, I would have probably been convicted. And considering I did not touch either officer, this is truly frightening. It truly makes me sick that they could lie and potentially I could have been locked up. It makes me question other convictions, especially involving those who haven’t the finances to defend themselves. He also said we had no proof for our accusations, so they were effectively dismissed. His opinion was swayed by a security guard who was present, who he spoke to two years after the event. This guys story was so full of holes, just like the officers’ accounts, that it is incredible that he believed him over our coherent witnesses. As for my brother being knocked out and ending up in hospital, he pretty much glazed over this fact. So I am pretty angry, most of all for coming into my home, making all sorts of disgusting assumptions, bringing my mother to tears, and defending the indefensible. What a colossal waste of time!

I would have faith in god before I had faith in the police system, the court system or the complaints system.

I googled the officers’ names, one is being used in the police’s recruitment drive. Of course I am sickened that the guy is being held up as an example to the public. But I must move on, and make sure that this experience never leads to a bias in my reporting of any future police stories. Maybe my skepticism in the official police story will ensure that I will always dig deeper, and perhaps I will find a major story! I look forward to challenging my ability in the future to be fair and balanced if I report on stories involving the police. Of course every journalist has had bad experiences with something, so it is always a challenge to remain impartial on some situations. I have disclosed my bias here, so at least any of my potential future stories can receive the scrutiny they deserve

Comment by undergroundnetwork

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