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More on ‘officially ordered cowardice’

  • June 20th, 2008

Sometimes blog comments demand to be lifted out of their thread. Here is one from Jim McLean, prompted by comments elicited by posts on the Manurewa shooting.

 Chris it seems to me you are on the wrong side of this debate. Since you have given your name and occupation I will give mine. I am an SSO in the Fire Service currently riding in charge of Rescue trucks as I have done for over thirty years. I have acted as an executive officer and liaised closely with Police in many situations including armed offender incidents, nevertheless I speak for myself only on this issue.
I am confident that eventually an enquiry will show that the Police misinterpreted sound principles and this led to inappropriate actions. I agree that ambulance staff should be kept out of harms way until Police have ensured the scene is safe enough for their attendance but initially this is not what the Police did.
Police comcen staff had multiple calls saying that a man had been shot in a robbery and the offenders had fled the scene. Comcen staff can (as you know) call back the callers for more information where there is doubt but in this case, Police were content to wait for senior staff to drive to a safe forward point, arm and instruct the officers on scene and then proceed to the scene.
Let us look at this logically. If the offenders had fled then a man was dying needlessly. If the offenders were still on the scene, then every memeber of the public walking into the scene is at risk. Is the life of an unarmed innocent memeber of the public worth so much less than the life of a Police officer who has sworn to protect them?
Of all the police faults on this occasion none is more egregious than the Comcen operator assuring the victims family that help would be there in minutes when they knew or should have known that this was untrue. They suspected, and subsequent events bore out that the only chance the victim had of survival was if they put him in a car and took him to the assistance that would not come to him. They lied and they did it in circumstances that resulted in loss of life. Worst of all, trusting immigrants to this country believed them and the message to such communities that Emergency services cannot be trusted to tell the truth will take decades to undo.
Stephen Franks considered and eloquent comments on this subject, together with a careful reading of the British Independant Police Complaints enquiry into a similar incident strike a chord of common sense in this entire debate. Your own comments may be heartfelt but in the end a life was lost, without any attempt to save it until it was far too late, and that remains something the Police should have wanted to thoroughly investigate at the outset.
I feel very strongly about this and would invite you to contact me by e mail if you still remain unconvinced and are prepared to debate it with me.  "

No wonder the family of the murdered man want a PCO inquiry.

From comments to me from people in the Wellington Indian community I suspect the public Sikh counter pressure against a PCO complaint is restricted to factions who retain a touching faith in not embarassing  the government, hoping for a reward one day for their blind historical loyalty to the Labour Party.


  • Chuck Bird
  • June 20th, 2008
  • 12:57 pm

I support Jim McLean’s comments. I have only met Jim once and that was recently when he was instructing a social group how to safely do a static line parachute jump. I mention this because this secondary job and his main job with NZ Fire Service require an ability to access risk.

Anyone of us could have been killed that day but the chance was negligible. That is because Jim and others like him base their instruction on their experience and that of others. They look at the causes of rare fatalities and put in place procedures to minimize them reoccurring. I am sure the same principle apples to the fire service.

I hope no one criticising the police and/or procedures would expect them to put there lives as extreme risk by attempting to rescue a wounded person while a sniper posed a real threat.

The police will never get their act together as long as people defend them based on blind faith and totally ignore logic.

The offenders could have returned. However, I have not heard of this happening before in New Zealand. The risk was minimal. If the police did not check out the scene due the procedure then there needs to be a serious look at procedure.

  • Jim Maclean
  • June 21st, 2008
  • 4:31 am

Thanks Chuck, I had not made the connection with your name but agreed with your comments. Here is a link on changes in Police tactics which saved many lives in Canada during a school shooting two years ago. It is worth reading by anyone interested in the debate, and surely that should include the Police heirachy.

  • Chuck Bird
  • June 21st, 2008
  • 1:59 pm

Jim, I read the link and found it of interest but think it is getting away from the issue here. That is should the police check a crime scene where a victim or someone assisting a victim clearly states the gunman has left.

Police policy basically says if there is a very remote chance of an armed offender still being on the scene if is better to let the victim bleed to death. This policy is wrong. Those going to the assistance of people in trouble in the bush, mountains, caves and at sea are prepared to expose themselves a reasonable risk. It is not unreasonable to expect the police to do the same.

If the police in these situations are following policy they should not be criticised. However, those who make such as stupid policy need to be. They are bringing the ordinary police officers in to disrepute. There needs to be an external enquire as to whether this policy should be changed.

I hope if Stephen Franks gets to be Minister of Police he continue to speak his mind on such matters of common sense and not be intimidated by senior police or others in the National Party.

  • Mike Mckee
  • June 21st, 2008
  • 9:06 pm

I would like to hope that the policy will be changed to read something along the lines of –

“if information from the public is that offenders have left the scene, then the responding officer shall have discretion to escort medical personnel into the scene or extricate any victims from said scene”.

That leaves the snr on site to make the call not others.

  • murray roxburgh
  • June 22nd, 2008
  • 11:31 am

Thank goodness for some sanity here. As a front line emergency person I am very sad that courage and risk assessment have all but been removed from our social values. We laud Willy Apiata,and rightly so,but then put in place SOPs (pun intended) that preclude in the case of Mr Singh basic help that would have in all probability saved his life had those at the scene been able to act on their instinct and available knowledge

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