Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Police State wish list
What cops want: Troops, tasers, tough laws
Tougher bail laws, equipping police with stun guns and boosting frontline numbers are all on the Police Association's election wishlist. In a document released this week, the officers' union spelt out its policy proscription for political parties.
Its priorities include raising frontline police numbers, as well as numbers overall, amending bail laws to reverse changes made in October last year which set a higher threshold for imprisonment and equipping all police with Tasers. They also include giving police the power to take DNA samples from all suspects, introducing a new offence for starting a police pursuit punishable by up to 10 years' prison and forcing phone companies to archive text messages for six months so they can be used in police investigations.
The union also calls for:
* Adequate funding of the Government's new Organised and Financial Crime Agency;
* urgent passage of the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Bill;
* investigation of the effectiveness of British-style anti-social behaviour orders;
* allowing police to issue temporary "on-the-spot" domestic violence protection orders;
* lowering the age of criminal responsibility to bring 12 and 13-year-olds within the jurisdiction of the Youth Court;
* keeping 17-year-olds in adult courts;
* introducing mandatory third-party vehicle insurance;
* raising police numbers to match Queensland's police to population ratio by 2015;
* introducing changes to discourage vexatious private prosecutions of officers;
* giving police automatic name suppression in cases where they are being prosecuted for the use of lethal force.
And so begins the move towards a Police State – can you believe the powers the Police Association want here? Let’s go through the worst elements…
Tasers – the cops have just been proven that they can’t use Pepper Spray properly, why in God’s name would we trust them with tasers? The simplistic argument that a taser is better than a bullet just doesn’t stack up if there is no one policing the use of those tasers, as we have seen in America, Police now taser people for looking the wrong way and get away with it. With NZ lowering the physical requirements for being a Police Officer less confident smaller ill trained cops are reaching for weapons to enforce their authority and that leads to a culture of automatic conflict rather than resolution strategies.
Taking DNA from ALL suspects – how creepy – note you haven’t even committed a crime, you are merely a suspect and the cops want your DNA for mere suspicion, we aren’t talking your fingerprints or photo, we are talking your DNA – the Police have no right to that information unless by your convicted action you give them the reason to take it. Mere suspicion of a crime is not a good enough reason to take your DNA.
New chase powers of up to 10years imprisonment and immediate confiscation of vehicle. Forget the blurring of the line between the judicial and the police, this new power has the possibility now of exacerbating the existing desire to flee and I have great doubts it will convince people to stop fleeing in the heat of the moment. I also think trying to pass this law after a Policeman has died and using that death as the reason is a wee bit disingenuous especially when you consider the majority of those who die are the people fleeing the Police, not the Police themselves.
Adequate funding of the Government's new Organised and Financial Crime Agency, this is a joke and shouldn’t be taken seriously, the old SFO had more powers to deal with organized crime and this entire reshuffle is a farce, as the ex-director of the SFO has already told Parliament, this is a sacrifice caused by fear mongering da gangs.
Investigation of the effectiveness of British-style anti-social behaviour orders – another case of moving the evidential thresholds in this case the cops get powers to move anyone around or arrest anyone who has been given an ASBO, they are the friendly face of British fascism. If you break the law, you should be arrested and you have certain rights, when you have an ASBO, the cop decides if you’ve broken it and you have no recourse to legal rights. Oh and there is little evidence that these things do actually work, so you get an erosion of your civil liberties for no gain.
Lowering the age of criminal responsibility to bring 12 and 13-year- olds within the jurisdiction of the Youth Court – ummmmm, doesn’t this move criminalize children? Don’t we have enough evidence to show that putting kids into the criminal system only results in them becoming bigger criminals? Why do I feel like we are banging our heads against a wall half the time on this?
Oh and finally, with the Police demanding all these new powers and massive erosion of your civil liberties, they also now want to stop prosecutions against their officers and they want name suppression to any cop who kills while on duty, fighting crime in NZ isn’t easy, but unbridled police powers and mass erosion of civil liberties within a system that isn’t independently checked and balanced (the current complaints process is still 85% police investigating police) is no solution. These powers weaken a democracy and build the foundations for a Police State.