"You can't have it both ways" says Greg O'Connor of the Police Association, the man who has the unenviable job of justifying every questionable killing, every brutal assault and every case of misconduct by the New Zealand Police. O'Connor was trying to make the point on Radio New Zealand that you can't have a New Zealand Police that refrains from using violence against people in custody if you also want a New Zealand Police which steps in the save the lives of the victims of violent crime.
O'Connor, in his stunning abuse of logic, confuses the job of policing (which properly undertaken requires a mix of restraint, courage and judgement) with brute machismo (which involves simply jumping in and bashing the hell out of anyone who gets in one's way).
The reality is actually worse than what O'Connor's "tough cop" scenario has to offer. The New Zealand Police have shown that they lack the courage to go to the aid of a dying gunshot victim, even when the risk to their own safety is vanishingly small. And at the same time they have shown their willingness to gang up in large numbers and use extreme force, involving the gratuitous use of pepper spray and batons against a mentally distressed prisoner.
The New Zealand Police must bear the direct responsibility for their own grievous actions and omissions. But indirectly responsibility lies with the political institutions of the regime. The New Zealand government has chosen to follow in the footsteps of its "very very very good friends", Britain and the US, to whom every kind of torture and abuse is deemed to be acceptable as a matter of military necessity. The vile practices which the New Zealand government condones internationally in the ludicrously misnamed "war on terror" will inevitably be reflected in the way it conducts itself in the domestic arena.
Having said that, Greg O'Connor is quite wrong. New Zealanders
can and will "have it both ways". One day the New Zealand Police
will be confronted by a moral force that treats its prisoners with compassion
and does not hesitate to put itself in harm's way to protect the lives
of the innocent. When that day comes the public of New Zealand
will emerge from the long dark night of their Stockholm captivity to this
egregrious excuse for a police force.