Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Switched on Gardener: to what purpose?

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  • Ian Dalziel,

    better work stories...
    I think the police have no idea about people just muddling through, we see someone just coping, they want to see some master criminal or conspiracy.
    Perhaps vindictiveness replaces their lack of vindication...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4629 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to andrew r,

    I talked to a few Crown Prosecutors about the case.To them Switched on Gardner were selling equipment and making tens of thousands in profit. Equipment that the owners knew was to be specifically used for gowing cannabis which in some cases they argue, would then be on sold.

    You know what's highly ironic about that? Some of the equipment seized in Operation Lime was later onsold at police auctions.

    Therefore, they say, prosecution was both necessary and worth while regardless of the cost.

    It wouldn't have been so bad if police and prosecutors had communicated that the practice that had let SOG trade and advertise for 15-odd years was to change, and let the owners and managers make their choices. Instead, police embarked on an expensive, nationwide operation that made aggressive use of search warrants and undercover officers -- and yet didn't anywhere near live up to its billing in the end.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18666 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Powerphernalia....

    You know what’s highly ironic about that?
    Some of the equipment seized in Operation Lime
    was later onsold at police auctions.

    Snap
    Maybe those found guilty will only get 'light' sentences?


    Preventive policing?

    It wouldn’t have been so bad if police and
    prosecutors had communicated...

    One imagines that more money and time spent on liaison and education with specific groups, and the community at large, could have an immensely beneficial affect on'offending' and decisions leading to those behaviours, and therefore saving money on policing resources and community impacts.
    It has always bugged me that while the State takes the stance that 'ignorance of the law is no defence'. they never actively initiate any meaningful introduction to, or education on, the law or Civics in general.


    the things ya see when ya haven't got a gun...
    Tangentially: I was appalled to find an A3 glossy christmas catalogue from Gun City in my suburban Shirley letterbox, yesterday...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4629 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I wonder if the disconnect between the draconian consequences of being convicted of participation in an organised criminal group and the actual facts of what the accused have got up to is leading to juries simply refusing to convict?

    But I don’t know why anyone who watches reality TV police shows would really be surprised at the pointless waste of taxpayers’ dollars the switched on gardener case represents. Waging war on drugs? You might as well try and wage war on liquorice allsorts.

    I watch those police/border reality shows from here and Australia, and all the sanctimonious lecturing of the voice overs can’t disguise the utter futility of the amount of time the police and customs spend busting small time drug dealers. The cost to the taxpayer must be prodigious, surely far more than treating it as a medical problem and employing more doctors and nurses and councillors would ever cost. Yet what does all that massive use of authoritarian power mostly net? Old ladies trying to make the pension go a bit further, louts looking for a quick buck, larrikins caught with a tiny or a baggie in their car, a stoner dude supplementing his minimum wage job in a gardening centre, a couple of teenagers at a music festival – that is who the police mostly catch. None of the nickel and dime stuff really justifies the loss of our liberties, invasions of our privacy and draconian sentences that in its impotent fury the state imposes on us all. The futility of the body armour and the assault weapons and the helicopters and the lavish use of manpower without regard to cost is really what these reality TV shows present to a thinking viewer.

    But these shows, like the switched on gardener case, do tell us the cops are as addicted to illegal drugs as any dead beat street addict, because without drugs the need for all those flash undercover operations, the guns, the helicopters, indeed the very centrality of the current importance of the police as a state agency, would pretty much vanish as well.

    And that I suspect is really the answer to the question “to what purpose….?”

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1769 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    indeed the very centrality of the current importance of the police as a state agency, would pretty much vanish as well.
    And that I suspect is really the answer to the question “to what purpose….?”

    Imagine, entrapment and intimidation , gone.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5972 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    do tell us the cops are as addicted to illegal drugs as any dead beat street addict, because without drugs the need for all those flash undercover operations, the guns, the helicopters, indeed the very centrality of the current importance of the police as a state agency, would pretty much vanish as well.

    The institution of the police has that view. But individual cops are much more nuanced, I think. The ones I know have, after all, taken dope themselves at much the same time their peers were doing it. They know the whole thing is a waste of their time and they would certainly rather be doing more valuable police work. Indeed, more than a few would welcome decriminalization so they could have a smoke occasionally, without fearing the end of their careers, and so that every person who does smoke dope that they ever knew, which could be quite a large proportion, doesn't disassociate with them. It's lonely enough being a cop.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    You talk about drugs with serving cops? Would you light-heartedly joke about how you are able to rig the bill to your advantage in Italian restaurants in New Jersey with low level mafia hoodlums as well?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1769 posts Report Reply

  • Luke Williamson,

    The real problem with treating marijuana use as a health issue, rather than a legal issue, is that they then have to deal with alcohol as a health issue and, as we saw with the latest round of suggested reforms on alcohol use and sales, this government has no interest in going there.

    Warkworth • Since Oct 2007 • 249 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    this government has no interest in going there.

    I suppose the law of unintended consequences would see THC laced softdrinks being hawked by major breweries at every corner dairy, on the grounds they don’t need a liquor license, while the National government pretended there wasn’t a problem with that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1769 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    I wonder if the disconnect between the draconian consequences of being convicted of participation in an organised criminal group and the actual facts of what the accused have got up to is leading to juries simply refusing to convict?

    I wonder too. It's also worth noting how unimpressed judges have been with some police actions in this case.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18666 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    You talk about drugs with serving cops?

    Yes. I don't understand the second part of your question.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Rob S, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    I have smoked with police officers to be, current and former not just talked about drugs with them. I expect a lot of people at this site have also had similiar experiences. To see a police officer fail to uphold a law surely devalues other laws, although I never thought any less of the officers themselves who'd been put into a crap position of upholding obviously futile and pointless laws. I expect that 95% of MPs speaking privately on their own behalf don't agree with the law as it stands [lets not mention P Dunne and his ilk], but acknowledging and changing this will probably be driven from outside Parliament as it's too much of a political hot potato.
    Even Nandor Tanczos flew quite low in this regard so as not to inhibit his other ambitions regarding Parliament.
    With you 100% Russell in that the police could have dealt with switched on gardener more effectively by meeting with the principals to find a resolution to their concerns.
    Probably this sort of action could be effective in a lot of other cases saving time and money also causing less criminalisation of our citizens whilst enhancing their standing in the community.
    I note that other regulatory agencies already do this, Commerce Commision, Health and Safety etc.

    Since Apr 2010 • 68 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    You know, the cops don't actually have to enforce every law on the books to the maximal extent possible. In fact, that's just as draconian and unjust as selectively refusing to enforce the law. In general, there's discretion, and cannabis crime is a classic case where discretion really should be exercised.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1316 posts Report Reply

  • vangam, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    I watch those police/border reality shows from here and Australia, and all the sanctimonious lecturing of the voice overs can’t disguise the utter futility of the amount of time the police and customs spend busting small time drug dealers. The cost to the taxpayer must be prodigious, surely far more than treating it as a medical problem and employing more doctors and nurses and councillors would ever cost. Yet what does all that massive use of authoritarian power mostly net? Old ladies trying to make the pension go a bit further, louts looking for a quick buck, larrikins caught with a tiny or a baggie in their car, a stoner dude supplementing his minimum wage job in a gardening centre, a couple of teenagers at a music festival – that is who the police mostly catch. None of the nickel and dime stuff really justifies the loss of our liberties, invasions of our privacy and draconian sentences that in its impotent fury the state imposes on us all. The futility of the body armour and the assault weapons and the helicopters and the lavish use of manpower without regard to cost is really what these reality TV shows present to a thinking viewer.

    beautiful

    Rangiora • Since Jun 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    In general, there’s discretion, and cannabis crime is a classic case where discretion really should be exercised.

    It's exercised all the time -- the police don't wade in and make arrests at J Day, they periodically overlook marijuana sales and consumption at the Daktory, and they may or may not overlook minor possession, depending on how they're feeling that day. Jenny Shipley made it an offence to sell cannais paraphernalia, but you can still buy bongs all over town.

    There's a reason for this: zero-tolerance policing of cannabis laws would make prohibition untenable.

    The problem is that when prosecution is so often discretionary, you get what happened to Green Cross and Stephen McIntyre, and OTT events like Operation Lime. It's not a good formula.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18666 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But how on earth does Operation Lime alter that?

    By opening lines of enquiry into the activities of the SOG customer base. Who are perhaps older, richer and paler.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac, in reply to Angus Robertson,

    That's hardly entire story - the Police quite frequently turn a blind eye to laws they can't be bothered enforcing. There were a vanishingly-small number of prosecutions for sodomy before the Homosexual Law Reform bill, most of which were actually about sex in public places and child molestation.

    No, this ridiculous amount of money and energy spent on cannabis control is essentially about easy news stories and a bunch of pumped-up guys who enjoy running around with guns and choppers (not so much the criminals).

    Edit: oops, repeating same points made downthread. Oh, well, +1 from me.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 466 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Angus Robertson,

    But how on earth does Operation Lime alter that?

    By opening lines of enquiry into the activities of the SOG customer base. Who are perhaps older, richer and paler.

    I rather doubt that's the case.

    But let's assume it is: how does that make beat cops less likely to pick on poor brown kids?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18666 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The split make up of the NZ crime stats is a lot more than just ethnicity.

    Alcohol and is proliferation really really need to be looked and addressed if the nation is serious about “crime”.

    There is a common theme in the big issues involving the Police/NZ Govt – examples being Dot Com, the Terror raids, SWOG. – That is they are all bound together by incompetence.

    What is happening in Washington state is noteworthy – legalised possession of up to an ounce.

    This clip always gets a wry smile and was on TV3 News tonight.

    You can be young brown and black and do something more than be a crime stat if you want..

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1184 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I don't disagree --- just that the `oh the cops had to do this' argument is pretty weak.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1316 posts Report Reply

  • paulalambert, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Bust 'breaks cornerstone' of cannabis industry : nzherald link
    this article states .. Once police knew who was buying the gear, they launched more stings to catch their targets in the act of growing and selling drugs.

    i guess its a moot point how they gathered their targets - whether through surveillance of the shops or access to SOG computer records - but it certainly did happen as an immediate result of Operation Lime.

    i too doubt it meant frontline beat cops were less likely to pick on poor brown kids, even taking into account a new 'warning' system, which was for 'cleanskins', that was also piloted in auckland around that time (subsequently 'rolled' out nationwide).

    i do know those post-Lime busts netted a number of small very genuine medpot users - older, richer and paler - growing their own supply, who had to face the courts, and that is just the few that i know Norml found out about.

    chch • Since Dec 2006 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    Michael Quinlan is an excellent and generous bloke

    This:
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10852248

    & this:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/features/4022867/Switched-off-gardeners

    Police should have also arrested the sun (or power supplier) , the moon and the rain - they also have a part to play in things that grow.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1184 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to DexterX,

    Police should have also arrested the sun…

    <edit> hmmm, that gif was all over the place
    try this link to spaceweather

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4629 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    You talk about drugs with serving cops? Would you light-heartedly joke about how you are able to rig the bill to your advantage in Italian restaurants in New Jersey with low level mafia hoodlums as well?

    Hey we talk to all kinds of people here.
    Frinstance. My old mate Osama like to knock back the Vodka when we were in Afghanistan working for the Company. Here's a story. When we were on Hell week during our Special Forces training, we were doing a 12 hour drown-proofing exercise, I can tell you that bugger did the full 12 hours with just one bottle, taking a gulp every time that big old bearded head broke the surface. And could he handle his piss, hell yeah. Top bloke.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4640 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to DexterX,

    Police should have also arrested the sun (or power supplier) , the moon and the rain -

    All I can say those against need to watch 'Happy Feet' stoned.
    start at the Boogie Wonderland sequence a good stereo enhances
    Them writers... hope they were having fun

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1172 posts Report Reply

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