What in gods name has happened to my sweet godzone in the two years I’ve been away? The dark side, the same dark side that used to be the exclusive domain of our artists, musicians, writers, filmmakers and musicians, seems to have bumped itself well and truly into the mainstream.
I leave the blogs for a few days and come back to extended threads about cops watching chicken fucking movies (about the time said cops were getting ready to truncheon a few of us up and down New Zealand it must be said), more murder and mayhem on the front pages of the dailies, and I scratch my head. And then there seems to be a perverse interest in the jersey of an arraigned (but no longer convicted…but also not adjured not guilty it must be said, and I was less uncomfortable with that conviction than several others, but so be it) mass killer.
This is not the nation we sell to the world. The simple fact is that
But slowly, in its only funny way, I think
I wondered how long it would be before the attention shifted to our boys in blue, as it should. One of our national myths surrounds our Police force. Their reputation, in the massed public mind, has always been one of an incorruptible force working for the public good. And largely, it’s true. I’ve worked with and encountered many hundreds over policemen and policewomen over the past decades, working with bands, in charitable situations, answering calls, and, repeatedly, as the owner of several licensed establishments.
Overwhelmingly my experiences have been positive, and I’ve laughed and chatted with many a constable on the beat, or sergeant checking the street, at 2am. And I have had detectives as friends over the years. I went through an attempted extortion many years ago, and the police handled it well, albeit at the edge of their powers, but any other way of dealing with it may well have had a less positive outcome.
But despite all that, I’ve repeatedly encountered an unchecked brutality and arrogance that has existed right in the middle of the police culture and has, not only been unchallenged, but even been encouraged.
Any of us out and about in the late seventies and early eighties in
My sister, who is not the sort to make a fuss (and may even be a National party voter…I don’t know) still tells horrifying stories of her years on the door of the
The police used to arrive at clubs in the early eighties, and for no real reason, drag half the cliental out on the street for body searches and likely arrest. My flatmate suffered a broken foot from a boot when he was not clear enough in his response to a question. After he was released three hours later we went to a&e and, the next day tried to file a complaint to no avail.
I lived with it again through the years that I owned clubs. The brutality aspect had toned down somewhat, at least inside the venues, but the culture of arrogance was alive and well. The policing units, arriving as they did, on a regular basis were always rude, overwhelming in numbers in a peaceful, even exuberant atmosphere, very pushy (both verbally and physically) and generally unnecessarily unpleasant. Not only looking for trouble but actively wanting to engineer it.
I recent years I’ve not had many one on one dealings with the police, aside from an attempted burglary (they were very good), a car theft (they didn’t care and were rude), and when they arrested a client of mine on an assault charge (they lied, were rude and seemed more interested in his celebrity status), but I can’t help but feel that the culture of arrogance and thuggery which was an acceptable part of the New Zealand Police Force has yet to be properly excised.
This all feels strange, residing as I do right now, in a nation emerging from decades of authoritarian rule, with a police force that still can’t quite decide which side of the divide it sits on (and is plagued by endemic corruption) but the thing is, the force here has had less than a decade to work through these issues…..it has only been a civilian authority for some seven years, whereas the NZP have had a century and a half of non authoritarian rule in an affluent and democratic society, to develop and grow, but are still having these problems, and they seem strangely reluctant to come to terms with them.
And I think that is no longer acceptable for population as a whole.