police officers are citizens in uniform. They exercise their powers
to police their fellow citizens with the implicit consent of their fellow citizens
Citizens. Every time, citizens. Not civilians. Massive difference.
As a principle it is sound, but it is very definitely not what you have been arguing.
But they are still civilians by definition
By whose definition? The definitions of civilian I can find all include both police and military personnel as the exceptional class, and many also include fire fighters. Even the International Committee of the Red Cross, promulgators of the laws of armed conflict, bundle police and military together into what they call “arms carriers”.
ETA: NZ Fire Service personnel, by popular intra-service choice, refer to “members of the public” when discussing non-uniformed members of society. A suggestion that the nomenclature be revised, with “clients” or “customers” as possibilities, was widely derided and thus dropped. Uniformed protectors of society at large see themselves as groups apart, and the police are far from alone.
Unclear from the Herald article exactly what he requested, suspect it was “personal information” held about him by Police. This wouldn’t be covered by OIA, but the Privacy Act instead.
Presumably it wasn’t a simple request for his own criminal record because he would know that already.
As best I can piece it together, he sought information for the purposes of research and was then informed that he's blacklisted/banned/whatever. At that point he requested a copy of his record to try and figure out the reason for the refusal, since the refusal was sheeted home to his allegedly-questionable associations.
According to a legal opinion he cites, the original information requested should have been available to anyone who submitted the appropriate request under the auspices of the OIA. The information originally requested was not his criminal record.
I am of the opinion that this all stems from the attitude that we, the public, are referred to by the police as “Civilians”. This presumes that the police are not “civilians” but some kind of elite military unit, this is not what the police are but how they think of themselves.
They may not be an "elite military unit", but they are uniformed officers of the Crown, sworn and empowered to enforce the law, including using deadly force if necessary. They are not Joe or Josephine Public, and pretending that they are just like you is supremely naive. For better or worse, they are a power apart from all the rest of the citizens of this country.
They told us some bull about their accounting systems not tracking costs on a per operation basis — which I find negligent.
Actually quite plausible, if there's no tie between the time/case management system where staff record their time and the accounting system that tracks AR/AP. What possible utility is it to payroll to have a track of hours allocated to particular cases? I could make a strong argument against having payroll clerks with visibility of anything more than total hours worked in a given period.
Try asking how many hours were allocated to a particular operation, broken down by rank/role. Then go back and ask for median/mean salary of the various ranks. It's not perfect, but it'll give you a pretty decent guide to the cost of an operation and it should not be able to be refused on any reasonable grounds since police pay scales are public record and you're not asking for personally-identifying information.
Except the police force is not a commercial company. They are public servants who fulfill a very specific and privileged role in society.
This thing. We give the police a near-monopoly on the legal use of violence, forsaking the Hobbesian model for something a little more genteel. With great power, etc, and that includes, as Craig put it so beautifully, putting on their "blue serge grown-up pants" when someone points out that any resemblance to snow is less like the driven variety and more like the yellow one, and enabling that criticism to be developed in an informed manner.
for publishing Jarrod Gilbert’s column at all.
Not only did they publish his column, David Fisher also wrote a genuine article.
The police stuff is not usual – especially as the work is being done for a government organisation.
It's apparently something they do the same to people who have worked in prisons, too. From a friend who's a sometime clinical psychologist:
A variation of the same thing but if you've worked in a mental health capacity within the prison system the Police also pull the same thing "your association with gangs" It has happened to many of my peers.
The current regime, Matthew? I’m glad you think the Police’s profoundly dysfunctional culture of hostility to scrutiny and criticism didn’t exist before 2008.
Sorry, I missed the bit where Labour has the power to instruct the Commissioner to stop censoring academics. Could you explain it to me, please?
It's a shame the current regime is not a fan of transparency or honesty in government, as evidenced by the way the OIA is gamed by all holders of ministerial warrants. The only way shit like this stops is if the Minister says "Oi! You! NO!"