Thursday, 27 December 2012

Guns and police do they mix.

Crime + Police + Guns = More crime, more police and more guns.

Just a few days ago the NZ Police Association called yet again for the arming of police on the beat. It came about because a couple of police officers were attacked by drunken youth, one of whom it is claimed attempted to taser a police officer with her own taser gun. Imagine if that officer had a pistol rather than a taser. Before answering that question perhaps we should look at the larger picture in relation to guns, police and violence.  

It is a strange world we live in: In the United States where they consider that every thing they do is the best in the world. They naturally believe they know what’s best for the world; so they take over whole countries to introduce their form of perfection. Their form of democracy [and the policing of it] is in their view the finest version ever designed by mankind. It’s so good that less people in the USA vote in elections than in any other first world country. Their people are so happy that they have to arm their police with combat style weapons that are used in fully combat zones like Iraq and Afghanistan. Even Americans are stunned by US behaviour, and the mass murder of innocents has become common-place. This from US documentary producer Michael Moore: [Celebrating the Prince of Peace in the Land of Guns ...a letter from Michael Moore Monday, December 24th, 2012]

“Who are we?
I'd like to try to answer that question.
We are a country whose leaders officially sanction and carry out acts of violence as a means to often an immoral end. We invade countries that didn't attack us. We're currently using drones in a half-dozen countries, often killing civilians.
This probably shouldn't come as a surprise to us as we are a nation founded on genocide and built on the backs of slaves. We slaughtered 600,000 of each other in a civil war. We "tamed the Wild West with a six-shooter," and we rape and beat and kill our women without mercy and at a staggering rate: every three hours a women is murdered in the USA (half the time by an ex or a current); every three minutes a woman is raped in the USA; and every 15 seconds a woman is beaten in the USA.
We belong to an illustrious group of nations that still have the death penalty (North Korea, Saudi Arabia, China, and Iran). We think nothing of letting tens of thousands of our own citizens die each year because they are uninsured and thus don't see a doctor until it's too late.
Why do we do this? One theory is simply "because we can." There is a level of arrogance in the otherwise friendly American spirit, conning ourselves into believing there's something exceptional about us that separates us from all those "other" countries (there are indeed many good things about us; the same could also be said of Belgium, New Zealand, France, Germany, etc.). We think we're #1 in everything when the truth is our students are 17th in science and 25th in math, and we're 35th in life expectancy. We believe we have the greatest democracy but we have the lowest voting turnout of any western democracy. We're biggest and bestest at everything and we demand and take what we want.

Are the above comments by Michael Moore relevant to NZ, yes they are because we are going down the same path of failure as is the US.

How does this affect NZ? The answer is simple, because our police are following US style policing practice. And those practices are a well proven failure, but hey it’s American so it must be OK, yeah right.
It’s not a well known fact that NZ police members commit more crimes than do teachers, but they do. So maybe the police should use education to put their house in order.

The next question we could ask is. ‘What has led to the level of public disrespect for the police? The first thing needed in answering that question is honesty and in some respects bravery. Firstly we have to remember that all police are not angels as is proven by the crime stats for police. Some break the law and an awful lot seem to get away with breaking the law. That in itself simply proves that police men and women are simply human. What is important is that we don’t condone the law breaking. Arming every police officer with a weapon will simply make their crimes more serious both in intent and harm inflicted. So police behaviour as seen by the public is an important factor in how we respect or disrespect the role they play in a democratic society. Global Peace and Justice Auckland lodged a complaint against police recently. The last paragraph of that complaint was as follows:

“Anyone reading the police statement and the media reports based on it could be forgiven for believing the protest group had tried to break into the hotel, had lit multiple fires in the street requiring fire service attention and had attacked and injured police officers including “stomping” on one officer’s head.
This was a tissue of outrageous lies and dramatic overstatement. It appears to have been presented to the media from the police public relations team at least partly to disguise what was an appalling failure of policing at the protest.
The media and public have a right to expect the police will report accurately and fairly on any situation and not use the full public relations resources of the police to feed lies and misinformation into the public arena. To do so is to undermine the very rights people have to engage in protest which in turn is the oxygen on which our democracy depends.
We wish you to engage in a robust investigation of these complaints and we look forward to hearing from you.
Yours sincerely,
John Minto
Global Peace and Justice Auckland

Now seeing the name John Minto automatically creates anger to a vast array of red neck types. Regardless of where you sit John Minto does represent thousands of like minded people who attempt to ease the situation of those in need. The law has processes that allows for legal process and the police are required to uphold those laws. Getting police to dress up as protesters and getting the police public relations team to put out reports that favour the police view is a dangerous approach and is heading right down US police style behaviour. I am in favour of arresting those who break the law, be they the public or the police. The law and justice should be both colour blind and occupation blind, but is it? Take for example the punishments dished out for shoplifting and those for financial crime. Recently I watched the arrest of a young woman outside of ‘Pack and Save’, she was shoved up against the boot of a police car by two police officers and handcuffed in front of about ten staff and a huge number of shoppers. Her crime, she stole three blocks of chocolate. Have you ever read about an accountant being handcuffed on a public street surrounded by the public? I haven’t.
If the police over use violence to counter violence then that excessive violence will as sure as hell create further violence.

The US has moved down this track for hundreds of years and the outcome are millions of weapons freely available. We must not continue down this path because if we do the outcomes will be the same, horrific.

The one common factor in most violent behaviour [other than humans] is booze and while MP’s like Peter Dunne and others continue to allow the easy supply of cheap liquor from supermarkets and booze barns violent behaviour will expand.

Control booze, control guns, control police. Reduce poverty by paying people a liveable wage and crime will decline, that is a fact that we have yet to learn. We should stop copying practices that have repeatedly failed and spend more time practicing what works. As for guns and America, this unnamed text to the Manawatu Standard on Friday the 28th of December sums it up:

“Americans aren’t gun crazy people, they are crazy people with guns”

A local example where the law was used as a weapon rather than a tool for justice happened in Levin where the Mayor of Levin [and others] misused and manipulated police authority to silence legal protest. They should have realised that using police officers to achieve ones own self interests is wrong…the High Court judge tossed out all charges and earlier convictions against a protester who was protesting against the illegal use of Lake Horowhenua and at the same time condemned the police officers behaviour, the question is will the police bosses follow up with some form of official public discipline, based on past performance the chances are slim.    

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