Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Tragedy into Crisis?

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  • Matthew Poole,

    Surely the point is that the safety of attending officers must be balanced against the safety of the victims of the situation.

    Oh, of course. But the scales are very heavily tilted toward the safety of the officers. In a big-city environment, where firearms-equipped cars aren't too far away and the AOS can be on-scene in an hour, the loading is even greater. In the wops, where it might be two hours to the nearest town of any importance and the AOS comes from somewhere that's further away still, the balance will be a little different but still heavily tilted.

    As Russell pointed out a couple of pages back, the time from first call to the scene being declared "secure" was 31 minutes, from first call to entry was 26 minutes. That's not even close to a lack of balance of concern for the safety of the injured person - particularly since entry was made 11 minutes after confirmation was received that someone had been shot. If you've got firearms five minutes away (if that) when you find out someone's been shot, why would you suddenly rush into a situation? It's five minutes, and then you've got the equipment to deal with a potential gunman. I say five minutes because issue of firearms takes time, as does putting on vests and moving up from the SFP. It's entirely possible that firearms were arriving at the scene at the time that it was confirmed that there was a victim.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • Nick D'Angelo,

    What 3410 just said

    I couldn't agree more, but this thread has RSI so I shall move on to something else. But in closing:

    What Kyle just said

    Yes, I saw a few seconds of CCTV on TV too, but what does that really tell us? That the killer was a psycho and therefore the Police were right to wait until they were certain he'd left? That's not what I took from it. And as for the Herald story ... all they say is "As the gunman swings the weapon towards Navtej Singh behind the counter, Gurwinder Singh escapes out the back of the shop. Moments later Navtej Singh is shot in the chest.". That sets up the (presumed) defence theory that the killer was startled by Gurwinder and fired accidently. It doesn't say to me that the killer was a psycho and therefore the Police were right to wait until they were certain he'd left.

    But anyway, we all seem fairly entrenched in our views/positions so I'll bow out of this thread and let the court decide the prosecution - and any inquiry can decide the merits of Police SOP. You can chat amongst yourselves :)

    Simon Laan • Since May 2008 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    is there a particular reason why I shouldn't be somewhat curious about why the police would advocate reliance on them in the first place.
    ...
    And no, Shep, I'm not advocating some sort of wild west, so you can relax.

    But if you're saying people shouldn't rely on the police, then what are you advocating? The police say "Don't take the law into your own hands" because the only alternative is the "wild west." It's an LA, where every shopkeeper has a loaded 12-gauge under the counter and some kind of assault rifle in the office. That's the alternative to letting the police say "Rely on us."

    I guess I should lower my expectations, and focus more on how to try to take care of myself and making damn sure to stay away from potentially dangerous situations now that my illusions have been dispelled.

    Given that you live in Wellington, you'd better move. If you're caught in a collapsed building when the big one hits, the people who come to get you won't hesitate for a second to get off the pile if their safety is endangered. The Urban Search and Rescue task force personnel here go through a three-week, full-time training course just to become a TF Technician. They train regularly, for precisely that kind of event. And for damned sure they'll look out for numero uno above all. The USAR techs who will come from overseas are trained equally thoroughly, and will have precisely the same mindset.
    It's not just the police who will stand away from a dangerous situation if the risk to themselves is too high. It's anyone who's got training to help in a dangerous situation.

    I suspect those perspectives will probably conflict regardless of how much we discuss them. I'm happy to park that part of the discussion if you are.

    You're probably right. I first heard the "me first" message over half my lifetime ago, and it's so thoroughly ingrained that trying to think any other way is incredibly difficult. Dozens of exercises and first aid competitions just bedded it in further, particularly when the notional safety of my team members was in my hands as the team leader.
    We'll have to agree to disagree, because neither of us is going to easily see the other's perspective. I still think you should take a first aid course, though. Especially with your new attitude of self-reliance :)

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    the Police were right to wait until they were certain he'd left

    That's not why they waited. They waited until they had firearms, in case he hadn't left. Your misrepresentation of the circumstances does nothing to aid your argument.
    Their concern was not so great that they wouldn't risk confronting a gunman at all, it was that they wouldn't risk confronting a gunman while unarmed themselves. Is that such an objectionable position?

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    In the wops, where it might be two hours to the nearest town of any importance and the AOS comes from somewhere that's further away still, the balance will be a little different but still heavily tilted.

    Whether it's allowed under police policy or not, I'm sure a fair few rural police officers would have a shotgun or other weapon in their vehicle - either a police one or a personal one. As much use for dealing with livestock, animals etc, as any risk from an armed offender.

    Yes, I saw a few seconds of CCTV on TV too, but what does that really tell us? That the killer was a psycho and therefore the Police were right to wait until they were certain he'd left?

    My point was in response to what you said:

    And you have this information because the Police gave it to you (via the media). We all got this story, but we don't get to see the footage ourselves, so we take the word of the media/Police.

    Clearly we did get to see some of the footage ourselves, and the media have apparently had full access to it.

    I think it backs up my original point that the shooter was clearly either a psycho nut (a la David Gray) or a person who lost control under stress. Neither of which are good situations to go into wearing a vest that doesn't stop bullets and carrying a short stick (the police), or wearing a cotton shirt and carrying a stretcher (the ambulance officers).

    Since Nov 2006 • 6205 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Whether it's allowed under police policy or not, I'm sure a fair few rural police officers would have a shotgun or other weapon in their vehicle - either a police one or a personal one. As much use for dealing with livestock, animals etc, as any risk from an armed offender.

    You're probably right that they'll have a weapon in the car. It'll be police-issue, no doubt, because the top-heavy bureaucratic hell that would descend on an officer who used their own firearm in the course of their duties really doesn't bear contemplation. But even if you've got one of the Bushmasters in your hand, you're still on your own in the middle of nowhere. Rural coppers don't patrol in pairs, they're often in a sole-charge station or at best it's them and a couple of others to cover all of the area and duties. That makes the time to backup all that more crucial. They can intervene if a threat materialises in front of them, but they're not going to go looking for trouble while it's just them and help's still a long way off.
    The AOS might come in by helicopter from wherever it is they're based, but they have to assemble, draw kit, and get to a helipad before that's an option. The cavalry's bearing down on your location at the speed of a crippled tortoise, not an F1 car.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    My email to Kerre Woodham about her colum last Sunday will be published as a letter-to-the-editor in the coming HoS. Will be interesting to see how badly they slash it. For posterity, here it is in its unedited glory.

    Hi Kerre

    I just wanted to thank you for your column about the response to the Manurewa shooting. I'm not associated with the Police, but it infuriates me how quickly the media (especially the Herald, unfortunately) jump on them for the slightest possible scandal.

    When a columnist such as yourself calls their publishing paper on such behaviour, it is a beautiful thing to see. People such as myself are easily ignored, but you're an extension of the paper and thus carry more weight.

    Your closing paragraph, about the message that is sent by reactions such as the one we're seeing, was brilliant. Police officers have as much right to expect to go home at the end of their shift as any other worker, but that is given scant recognition by the jerking knees of hysterical response to tragedies such as this.

    Thank you, again, for voicing something that I'm sure many people feel but are unable to adequately communicate.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    Next week Media7 had best have representatives from the Small Retaillers association and the liquor industry on to ask what PR is required to point out the lack of causation between alcohol and crime. In response to the usual suspects bleating...

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    A S - I was trying to parraphrase & I'm still a little lost at what exactly you mean by protection.

    1894 was the year of the Great Reduction in liquor licencing, one Hotel in Christchurch was denied a licence for being merely a place of drinking, shock & horror.

    Changes to the law to take into account the number of bars/bottle stores in an area, would introduce into the RMA the concept of economic viability, competition etc. This is currently removed from any consideration through the process or the courts.

    If allowed it would be a legal means to stop competition. Supermarket X could object to Supermarket Y.

    It would allow Motueka to keep McDs & the Warehouse out, as they have been campaigning for. Not toally bad having teased it out a little, but it's gonna change retailing in NZ quite a bit.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • A S,

    But if you're saying people shouldn't rely on the police, then what are you advocating?

    I'm sorry, isn't not relying on the police exactly the point you've been trying to convince me of for the last day or two?

    I'm a bit lost because I'm not advocating anything, whether anyone would like me to or not. I'm merely wondering whether the police saying rely on us, when it seems pretty clear you shouldn't rely on them, isn't just a little bit hypocritical.

    I'm very aware of the likelihood of the wgtn cbd being buried under a few metres of broken glass and rubble in the event of the big one, and I'm quite well aware that the city could be effectively cut off for months if not years in the event of a really big one. Those risks are ones I'm aware of, and have allowed for as much as I can. But cheers for the advice anyway, it makes sense.

    I don't see this debate really going anywhere, as we seem to be talking past each other quite a lot, so I'm going to echo Nick and stop about now. Thanks, all. It's been real. :-)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2007 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I'm sorry, isn't not relying on the police exactly the point you've been trying to convince me of for the last day or two?

    No! I'm trying to convince you not to expect immediate rescue, not that they won't come at all. Two completely different states of affairs.
    In one, you're on your own forever, constantly responsible for your own safety and survival. In the other you're merely asked to keep your expectations a little bit realistic, instead of believing that whenever you call 111 the <insert emergency service> will come charging through the door just as fast as they can get to your place.

    I expect the police/fire service/ambulance services to respond, and try to help me, if I get into strife. But if there's a gunman of unknown location involved, or power lines, or a sod-off big pile of bricks, I know that it might be more than five minutes before someone in uniform is at my side.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Oh, well who wants to bet that this is going to be one of the left-field hits of the Film Festival season:

    <blockquote>aomi Watts and Tim Roth star as a picture perfect couple on a lakeside vacation with their son. Their idyllic life is shattered when a pair of polite yet psychopathic house guests announce themselves... Austrian auteur Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher) literally returns to his old stomping ground in this shot-for-shot remake of his incendiary 1997 classic Funny Games. The home-invasion plot and its attendant brutalisation are used to turn the tables on the viewer, taunting our appetite for on-screen sadism as vicarious entertainment. A decade on, the remake is as gruelling to watch as the original, and the message is undiluted. Preying upon middle-class paranoia, Haneke‘s disintegration of the cinematic fourth wall is both masterful and manipulative. Funny Games is a real audience divider, a thought provoking love-it-or-hate-it experience that shoots you in the eye as you squirm in your seat.</quote>

    Or a less flattering and wanky reading is that, once more, Haneke covertly indulges the very middle-class paranoia, misanthropic psychosis and sadism he pretends to critique.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Oh, well who wants to bet that this is going to be one of the left-field hits of the Film Festival season:

    aomi Watts and Tim Roth star as a picture perfect couple on a lakeside vacation with their son. Their idyllic life is shattered when a pair of polite yet psychopathic house guests announce themselves... Austrian auteur Michael Haneke (The Piano Teacher) literally returns to his old stomping ground in this shot-for-shot remake of his incendiary 1997 classic Funny Games. The home-invasion plot and its attendant brutalisation are used to turn the tables on the viewer, taunting our appetite for on-screen sadism as vicarious entertainment. A decade on, the remake is as gruelling to watch as the original, and the message is undiluted. Preying upon middle-class paranoia, Haneke‘s disintegration of the cinematic fourth wall is both masterful and manipulative. Funny Games is a real audience divider, a thought provoking love-it-or-hate-it experience that shoots you in the eye as you squirm in your seat.

    Or a less flattering and wanky reading is that, once more, Haneke covertly indulges the very middle-class paranoia, misanthropic psychosis and sadism he pretends to critique.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12034 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce,

    I understand the theory behind the Police and Ambo's waiting at the "safe point" but at what point do they decide it's safe to enter the scene ?

    a) such a period of time has elapsed that the perpetrators have probably left the sceen by now ?

    or

    b) a member of the public wanders in then lets them know it's safe to enter ?

    Over half an hour from the 111 call to the ambos going in would have seemed like an absolute eternity to those on the scene.

    They knew it was a liquor store they were going to, it wouldn't have taken a rocket scientist to work out it was a robbery. Statistically, how often do the robbers hang around in this scenario after shooting someone ?

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 345 posts Report Reply

  • Rex Widerstrom,

    Michael Laws might have declared on Sunday that "South Auckland is the badlands of New Zealand … not a place that you choose to live. It is a place that you end up..."

    What, like you "end up" in Wanganui after getting up to your mascared eyes in the s**t for telling porkies and blaming it all on Antoinette in Hawkes Bay and Wellington?

    I lived and worked in South Auckland for over 2 years. Aside from the usual yoof hanging about making a nuisance of themselves the folk there were no more nor less menacing than anywhere else I've lived.

    And since many of them had genuinely fallen on hard times I found more people willing to lend a hand and greet you with a smile when you needed one than I ever found living in Remuera when I moved north.

    It really is about time the media stopped paying for this predictable, knee-jerk bigotry from "commentators" from whom - and about whom - we've heard more than enough.

    There's people who consistently write better researched and more challenging stuff here on PA, and even over at Kiwiblog and The Standard. Time for some new blood, surely.

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    Rex W:

    It really is about time the media stopped paying for this predictable, knee-jerk bigotry from "commentators" from whom - and about whom - we've heard more than enough.

    There's people who consistently write better researched and more challenging stuff here on PA, and even over at Kiwiblog and The Standard. Time for some new blood, surely.

    If we ever get our own Brixton 1981/Los Angeles 1992/Paris 2005, it could blowback majorly on the MSM & the hang-em-high brigade.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4353 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I understand the theory behind the Police and Ambo's waiting at the "safe point" but at what point do they decide it's safe to enter the scene ?

    Once they feel that they can deal adequately with the situation. Nothing to do with wanting certainty about where the perpetrator is, though that's nice, and everything to do with getting firearms to deal with a situation where shots have been fired. Like others, you seem to be looking at this with the misapprehension that the reason the police waited was to avoid having to face the gunman. That's bollocks. Our unarmed officers waited until a sergeant arrived and distributed firearms, and then they approached the scene. That's just plain sensible, especially when you've got no idea where the perpetrator is.
    If a sergeant had been the first car on the scene, with another patrol right behind to ensure there were officers to approach the scene as well as others to provide backup, entry would've been made just as fast as they could suit up and get in there. The delay was in waiting for the firearms.

    Yes 30 minutes would've felt like forever for those inside. But that can't really be helped. Even five minutes would've passed as an eternity for those who were aiding Singh and calling for help. Without going through it all again, the emergency services are concerned with their own safety ahead of people already caught up in the incident to which they're responding.

    Statistically, how often do the robbers hang around in this scenario after shooting someone ?

    Utterly irrelevant. Shots were fired, therefore there was someone around who was quite happy to use a firearm in a built-up area. That completely exonerates caution on the part of the police, and justifies any decision to want to be armed before going inside.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce,

    M Poole

    Actually there were you or just making it up as you go along ?

    Nothing to do with wanting certainty about where the perpetrator is

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10517192

    The police have said themselves they had to establish where the gunmen were before they entered the scene so nobody else's life was at risk. Not waiting at the safe point to get tooled up as your diatribe above describes.

    And it looks like the Sikhs are quite as "classy" as previously indicated in this thread and have decided to make a complaint ?

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 345 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Glenn, if you read other reports, particularly the ones the day after the shooting, you will discover that the police had to wait for firearms to arrive before they made entry. What they may or may not have said about wanting to know the location of the perpetrator does nothing to detract from the fact that our primarily unarmed police were ill-equipped to enter a situation where a firearm had been used and the location of the shooter was unknown.

    I realise it's hard to think of the cops as anything other than gutless, given the hard work of the Herald and portraying them as such, but do try and give them the benefit of the doubt. Also try reading some of my many posts on just why they would want guns in hand before approaching such a situation.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    Arms race, anyone?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4353 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Arms race, anyone?

    The criminal element in this country are under no illusions as to the availability of firearms to the police. The equipment available is well-known, given that the media reports every potential change to the armoury quite thoroughly.
    An arms race might begin if the police were routinely armed, and organised criminals felt the need to prove a point, but the status quo has been the situation for quite a few years without any dramatic increase in the use of firearms against the police. There are a handful of incidents a year where guns are presented at cops, and fewer still where shots are actually fired. The last shooting death of a police officer was DC Taylor 2002.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3909 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    Glenn P:

    And it looks like the Sikhs are quite as "classy" as previously indicated in this thread and have decided to make a complaint ?

    Here's a post from the NZ Sikh Society's Verpal Singh on AEN:
    ----------------

    From: Verpal Singh <verpalsingh@yahoo.com>
    Subject: [AEN] Small note
    To: AEN <aotearoaethnicnetwork@aen.org.nz>

    Through the medium of this forum, this is just to thank everyone for their support to the families at the receiving end of some callously criminal acts that have resulted in three deaths in South Auckland.

    On behalf of my organisation, a small note of explanation as to why we do not advocate complaining against the police -- if a complaint is lodged against the police at this juncture it would inevitably argue that police delay caused Navtej Singh's death. This would amount to prejudging the court case against the accused by effectively saying that they were not responsible for the murder they are accused of, police was. This would possibly result in lesser charges and lighter sentences. We are very clear in our mind who caused Navtej's death -- those who entered his shop and at gun point robbed him and while leaving fatally shot him.

    Any negligence on anyone else's part will be pointed out at many a juncture -- during police internal reviews; during the court case; and by the coroner's report. We request everyone (including the media) to let the processes take place as envisioned by those who put them in place, before seeking redressal for any sense of grievance against anyone.

    Regards,
    Verpal

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4353 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Here's a post from the NZ Sikh Society's Verpal Singh on AEN

    That's a mature and measured reaction. Not letting any police failures off the hook, but staying focused on the criminal.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6205 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The last shooting death of a police officer was DC Taylor 2002.

    I mentioned that case to Graham Bell in this week's Media7 (I'll post the links tomorrow). He noted that Taylor actually knew the shooter.

    Unsaid: that that might have been what encouraged DC Taylor to think he could go around protocol and approach the kid directly. Taylor's colleagues, the poor bastards, had to look at his dead body lying outside the house for hours afterwards until the subsequent standoff ended.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18964 posts Report Reply

  • Nick D'Angelo,

    Like others, you seem to be looking at this with the misapprehension that the reason the police waited was to avoid having to face the gunman.

    Not me. I just thought it could have taken less time for the Police to ascertain the gunman had fled. Given your scenario (gunman could still have been inside the shop) shouldn't the Police have waited until a remote controlled robotic unit arrived? Because I don't think bursting in with a bullet proof vest would have offered much protection in such close quarters, especially since the psychotic killer inside was probably holed up behind some big steel fridges with the lights out, waiting to cap some m'f'ing pigs as payback for having his Youth Gang Bandana confiscated in an earlier shakedown by a Team Policing Unit.

    That completely exonerates caution on the part of the police, and justifies any decision to want to be armed before going inside.

    Shouldn't there be an 'IMO' in there??

    Simon Laan • Since May 2008 • 157 posts Report Reply

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