I haven’t talked about it publicly before, but maybe this is the time to mention two incidents where we were shocked by Police Action (or lack of it) in Dunedin since we have been here.
In one incident, about six years ago, we were shocked to see a young man from next door screaming and ranting while waving an axe around on the street outside our house. He then had a heated argument with someone who stopped in a car, still holding the axe in a threatening manner. Obviously we immediately phoned 111, incredibly it took 45 minutes before one Police car arrived, in no great hurry, with two Police officers. They came to our door and said, quite casually, “Umm, you reported a guy with an axe?”
No arrest was made in the above incident, apparently he was just “upset” because his flatmates had played a practical joke on him, so the Police took away his axe and told us “We will let his Mother know”. The man was in his early twenties! The fact a mass murder occurred only a few years before this, just down the road from us, was not lost on my family or I.
The other incident involved a Police Officer (allegedly) swearing at and basically bullying a group of young guys who had been silly enough to knock a cardboard real estate sign down as they biked down the street, which they promptly put back up when the Police car stopped. The Officer (allegedly) refused to give them his name or number, telling them he “didn’t have to” and continued swearing at them, etc. It resulted in him charging one of the boys with Disorderly Behaviour – yes, for knocking a cardboard sign down. Even though the Sergeant later apologised for the actions of his officer, and the boy was given diversion, it didn’t stop in said officer arriving on the boys doorstep two weeks later with two other Officers, telling him he thinks he was probably the one who damaged some letter boxes, even though no one had seen him and there was no evidence whatsoever – only when his Father came out did they apologise and quickly leave.
I think overall the Police have a tough job, and most do their best. But I have said for years, there is something very wrong with the Police culture in Otago and in the management of the Police here. The lack of Police Patrols visible on the roads even though Dunedin has one of the highest crash rates (pro-rata) in NZ, is just one example.
Maybe one day, the Police Commissioner will actually do his job, and hold a major investigation into what is and isn’t happening in Otago / Southland Policing.
See this recent article in the ODT about the numerous disciplinary actions taken against Otago / Southland Police