Source: New Zealand Police
Police acknowledge the findings of a report by the Independent Police Conduct Authority into a pursuit following a violent aggravated robbery.
On the morning of September 21 2017, five male youths approached a van and forced the female driver out of her vehicle, threatened and physically assaulted her, before stealing and fleeing in her vehicle.
This was a violent and random attack on an innocent member of the public.
The following day Police were alerted to the stolen vehicle driving in Clevedon and with the assistance of Eagle monitored the vehicle overhead. Police staff deployed road spikes successfully but despite this the vehicle continued to drive and went onto the wrong side of the Southern Motorway driving into heavy oncoming traffic for around nine kilometres.
Police staff continued to follow the offending vehicle which eventually came to a stop outside a residential address. Two of the occupants of the car were arrested at the scene and two were chased on foot. While trying to apprehend one of the fleeing offenders a dog handler has released his dog and one of the offenders was bitten.
The offenders involved in the pursuit and aggravated robbery were aged between 13 and 15 at the time of the incidents and faced a range of serious charges including aggravated robbery, and endangering transport. They were dealt with through the Youth Court.
The IPCA found there was a number of issues with the pursuit, including that it was not commenced in accordance with policy.
Tamaki Makaurau Deployment Manager Acting Superintendent Dave Glossop says Police acknowledge there were elements of this pursuit which could have been managed better and that included better communication from the Incident Controller.
“This was a fast-moving and complex incident and our officers had to make spilt-second decisions in a situation involving very dangerous offenders. The intent of our staff was to locate and apprehend these offenders who were involved in a violent aggravated robbery and ensure there was no further harm to our community.
“Ultimately in pursuits it is the offenders who choose not to stop for Police and in doing so put themselves, police staff and members of the community at risk. In this case, the offenders were driving on the wrong side of the motorway. It is through sheer-luck that innocent members of our community were not seriously injured,” says acting Supt. Glossop.
“We have noted the IPCA’s comments and have taken this feedback on board for the future. In any situation like this there are always learnings for Police and we continuously look for opportunities to better manage critical incidents.”
The IPCA also found that one of the officers involved was justified in deploying his dog to assist in the arrest of one of the youths, to ensure he did not escape. Police do not agree with the IPCA’s findings that the time the dog handler allowed the dog to bite was excessive, and was unreasonable use of force. The dog handler believed the offender was carrying a weapon and he feared for his and his dog’s safety.
We have communicated the lessons learnt from this incident to the staff involved.
Shelley Nahr/NZ Police