Bent Cops

41 IF THEY TREAT THEIR OWN WHISTLE BLOWERS LIKE THIS,

imagine how they treat civilians who blow the whistle on bent porky bastards.

 

Police bullying claims: AOS member ‘feared’ for his safety during training

9:59 am on 21 October 2019

@Benjstrang ben.strang@rnz.co.nz

A former member of the Armed Offenders Squad was told he could be the victim of an accident during a firearms training session he was leading.

Former constable John Woodward said he was a victim of sustained bullying during his final years working on the West Coast, after falling out with other police officers during a staff restructure.

RNZ has now talked to 92 current or former sworn and non-sworn police employees who say bullying is rife within the service.

A sole charge officer in Ross, Mr Woodward informed his managers when he was witness to bad behaviour by fellow officers.

But when the management team were sent packing by people further up the police structure, a protective disclosure he had signed was leaked and his colleague thought Mr Woodward was a “nark”.

He was then bullied by staff in nearby Hokitika.

Mr Woodward said the bullying was subtle but sustained, and at one point a friend let him know he was concerned for Mr Woodward’s safety.

“With the Armed Offenders Squad, basically I was a police trainer, or instructor, and started to have a role teaching some of the training days that we were running,” Mr Woodward said.

“The bullying and that had been that bad for me, that a friend of mine further south in the South Island had rang and said, ‘Hey, you need to be aware that there’s a target on your back’.

“I sort of scoffed at it initially, like whatever. So be it. This guy isn’t a guy who would overreact to anything, he’s pretty level-headed, and he said, ‘na, I’m serious. You need to take this bloody seriously that you are in danger, and they are after you.'”

During a second phone call, Mr Woodward was told there could be an “accident” at the training session he was hosting, and he could be shot.

“That’s basically how it might work. You know, that might be an easy way of getting rid of the problem that an accident might occur, and probably wouldn’t be that difficult to explain all of that,” Mr Woodward said.

“When you’re doing some stress shooting or something like that, you could probably, I guess it could be seen as an accident quite easily.”

Mr Woodward said the second call left him fearing for his safety.

Although he went ahead with hosting the session, and nothing eventuated, he said he was on high alert throughout the day.

An international incident

Sung Young Mo and Kim Chil Young, two Korean tourists, died when their car went over the side of the Whanganui River bridge on 30 December 2014.

Mr Woodward was the first officer to arrive in what he described as an international incident, and found a car bobbing in the water.

He sought back-up from fellow officers, and those at the nearby Hokitika station which had several staff, but he said nobody arrived to help.

“I was screaming for people on the radio to come, and my back-up for that job, and you’d [usually] get up to 15 people respond to that kind of job,” Mr Woodward said.

“My staff came from further south in Franz Josef, which is miles down the road, and from Greymouth, driving through Hokitika.

“The area my acting sergeant was in, Hokitika, not once got on the radio, well aware of the job and had been notified of the job, and my response staff to help me had literally driven from another 30 minutes north of [Hokitika].”

Mr Woodward said the acting sergeant in Hokitika at the time was one of the main sources of bullying, and ignored the job.

He said he complained about the lack of support, and was told the acting sergeant had not seen the call, and then logged out and left the station.

Mr Woodward does not buy it, and said it was a considered decision not to provide support to a colleague they did not like.

The same thing happened some time later, when he was called out at 2am when a man was reported to have threatened his partner with a firearm.

The Hokitika station did not provide support, so officers from Greymouth made the lengthy journey through Hokitika to help.

By the time they arrived, the man was in custody.

“We didn’t find a gun,” Mr Woodward said. “But usually for a job like that you send everyone and then scale it back. They didn’t send anybody [from Hokitika].”

‘Bullying kicked into another gear’

Mr Woodward said his original managers on the West Coast cracked down on bullying and bad behaviour.

He said an area commander and three senior sergeants running operations on the coast were “brilliant”.

“I’ve been on the receiving end for things that I needed to improve on, you know. Hold your head high and just, you do something wrong, we can figure it out. And not in any dodgy way, just be honest, you know, they were just people of absolute integrity and impeccable nature.”

But as they cracked down on poor behaviour that didn’t meet the police code of conduct, Mr Woodward said they “had the rug pulled out from underneath them”.

Following talk of a restructure, Mr Woodward had been informing the management about bad behaviour by other officers, seeking to raise standards within the team.

“They were name calling just talking about you know, f***ing incompetence, some people were just fat and useless, all these sort of things,” he said.

“So the bosses came and asked me what I knew about it and I was really uncomfortable doing anything about it because I knew what would happen. I knew I’d be here today.

“I said look, I’m happy to talk about it but there needs to be some protection around this. You need to know it’s not right. But equally I know if I speak up, then I’m basically signing my resignation later in life.

“All the protection in the world was offered from the management team there and they did they did everything they could, even as far as putting paperwork in a protected disclosure around what was going on.”

But when his immediate management left, his protected disclosure was not protected.

“One of those protected disclosures got leaked and I walked into the Hokitika station and there’s one of the protected disclosure job sheets sitting on a table.

“There was no one reading it, they didn’t need to. It was just, we know what you know, and that you’ve told, and there it is.”

He said that was when the bullying kicked into another gear.

Police response

Both former District Commanders of Tasman strongly reject suggestions they allowed bullying to occur, police said.

In a statement, a spokesperson said while the commanders were there they initiated work so West Coast police staff could raise issues of concern with district leadership, and provided a safer working environment.

Actions were taken to support Mr Woodward, there were investigations into the behaviour at the time issues were raised and police made changes to improve the culture following a review in 2015.

The spokesperson said Mr Woodward left police in 2017 on an unrelated matter, and all employment matters were settled as part of a full and final agreement. Mr Woodward said he left because the bullying followed him from the West Coast to a different region.

“We know that bullying and inappropriate behaviour does occur, however in this case it was both acknowledged and addressed once it was raised,” the statement said.

The spokesperson said police had a priority of eliminating bullying in the organisation and were continuing to review policies and processes.

“In addition to existing systems we have in place to report issues, the Commissioner has also this week announced to staff that any current employee who feels they have been bullied or their complaint hasn’t been dealt with properly can contact his office directly. We will ensure sure that this is assessed and independently reviewed, with details only passed to the independent assessor.”

Police told bullying victim to retract statement or face legal action

Ben Strang of RNZ13:30, Oct 23 2019

A former member of the Armed Offenders Squad was told he could be the victim of an accident during a firearms training session he was leading.

This story was originally published on RNZ.co.nz  and is republished with permission.

The police have told a whistleblower to retract his statements to RNZ about being bullied or face legal action.

The demand came just hours after Police Commissioner Mike Bush announced a review into how complaints of bullying are dealt with.

RNZ/DOM THOMAS

Former constable John Woodward says he was a victim of sustained bullying during his final years working on the West Coast.

John Woodward spoke to RNZ on Monday, detailing the treatment he received during his time in the force.

A former Armed Offenders Squad member, Woodward was once told he would be “accidentally shot” during a firearms training event he was hosting.

He was also isolated from his colleagues, to the point that his direct boss ignored his calls for backup when attending a fatal car crash in which two Korean tourists died after going over a bridge, into the Wanganui River on the West Coast.

A former member of the Armed Offenders Squad was told he could be the victim of an accident during a firearms training session he was leading. (File photo).

READ MORE: 
Police bullying claims: Minister says ‘two sides of every story’
Bullying in the police: Victim reveals identity, says leaders are ignoring ‘mental abuse’
Bullying in the police: ‘It absolutely destroys you’

In a letter sent to his lawyer, the police said Woodward had breached confidential settlement agreements from 2014 and 2017.

“Your client, John Woodward, has been speaking with the media (Ben Strang of RNZ) regarding his employment with Police,” the letter reads.

The letter states that under the agreement, both parties agreed to only talk positively or in a neutral manner when speaking about each other to third parties.

It was also agreed that all matters relating to Woodward’s employment would remain confidential.

“On the basis of the information Ben Strang has provided to Police, and the video interview that appeared on RNZ website, Police is of the view that John has breached the terms of settlement referred to above (as well as those in his 2014 settlement agreement),” the letter continues.

“At this stage, Police intends to uphold its obligations under the settlement agreement and requires that John does so to.

“Police asks that John consider remedying the apparent breaches to date.”

Woodward accepts he has breached his settlement, but said he still loves the police and wants the best for serving officers.

He said it’s worth speaking out about bullying if it causes a culture change.

“We can’t get our heads around it,” Woodward said.

“They do it so quickly. We expected it, but the thing for us, to do it so soon, it’s another form of bullying in itself.

“I’ve got nothing bad to say about the police itself. I love the police and still always have. I’ve just got plenty to say about the culture and the bullying in the police. That’s not the organisation as a whole.

“It’s laughable. They should be ashamed of themselves.”

Police deputy chief executive Kaye Ryan said the organisation thought it had settled its issues with Woodward.

“Police are considering their legal options in regards to this matter, as a settlement agreement had been reached with Woodward, and we believe the terms of that agreement have been breached,” Ms Ryan said in a statement.

“However, police are also cognisant of wanting to do the right thing. Police genuinely felt that they had settled the issues in relation to Woodward’s employment.”

Louise Nicholas, whose complaints of sexual misconduct in the police sparked the 2007 commission of inquiry into police conduct, backed Woodward and said the police need to think about what they are doing.

“Good on Mr Woodward for actually speaking out,” she told Morning Report.

“If he’s breached confidentiality, I believe he’s done it for all the right reasons and I think police need to just pull their horns in a little bit.”

Ms Nicholas said the police review into bullying complaints should also dive deep into the underlying police culture.

She said she was disappointed with Police Minister Stuart Nash.

“You’ve got over 100 people who are coming forward and saying this behaviour is going on,” she said.

“Look at it, sort it, and get Debbie to do the review, so that people feel safe going into the New Zealand police because that’s what they want.

“They’re wanting 1800 more police officers. You’re not going to get them if this issue is continuing and they’re not going to look at it.”

The police review was announced on Tuesday morning.

Mike Bush said the review would look into how complaints of bullying are dealt with through the police systems and processes.

It will be led by independent consultant Debbie Francis, who led the review into harassment and bullying at Parliament.

The former armed offenders squad officer said the review is a good start, but the police culture needs change.

That is backed by the president of the police association, Chris Cahill, who said the police the review should look at the culture as well as the complaints systems.

The terms of reference for the review will be announced later this week.

This story was originally published on RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission.

LIKE THIS?

Whangarei Officer refused to take complaint against Police, identify himself or speak to support person leading to complaint against him.

A Northland Constable who was caught out refusing to take a formal complaint, refusing to speak to a support person and who refused to identify himself is now himself the subject of a formal complaint.

A Northland woman who was feeling aggrieved by the way she believed she had been treated by Whangarei Police since moving to the area several years earlier made the decision to lodge a complaint.

Due to not having email access she presented at the front counter of the Whangarei Police station with her pre-written complaint only to be turned away by the officer at the front counter.

According to the woman, the Officer initially tried to get her to leave and present her complaint at another station. When she wouldn’t he read her complaint and then gave it back to her refusing to keep a copy or lodge it as a formal complaint.

The woman became upset and called her support person who was Shannon Parker, Founder of New Zealand Police Conduct Association (NZPCA). She was advised to go back to the counter and make sure the officer knew this was a formal complaint and she was there to lodge it with Police.

Shannon stayed on the phone while the woman went back to the counter where the officer again refused to take the complaint. He then refused to identify himself by supplying his name or QID. The woman who was very upset by that point asked if he could speak to her support person and tried passing him her phone. The officer yelled down the phone that he wouldn’t be speaking to the woman’s support person and refused to take the phone, repeadily saying “no, no. no”.

While the woman sat at the Whangarei station her support person tried to call someone who could deal with the matter but a call to 105 to be put through to a member of Police to help proved more difficult than she thought it would be. Not only was this call time consuming the call taker wasn’t aware that NZ Police had their own Professional Conduct group.

A call was eventually made by the support person directly to the Northland Police Professional Conduct manager who immediately went to the front counter, spoke to the woman and accepted her complaint.

A formal complaint about the handling of the initial complaint currently sits with the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

(Hallelujah!!! Unless the cop admits fault the IPCA will find against the complainant. But even if the cop admits his guilt nothing will happen except he’ll get a promotion for being a faithful porky bastard.)

Shannon Parker, founder of New Zealand Police Conduct Association said “Police have a complaints process which all Police staff should be aware of. It is not up to the individual officer who has received the complaint to decide the validity of that complaint or decide whether he wants to take it or not.

I find it concerning that an Officer placed at the front counter of a Police station wouldn’t know the complaints process and would refuse to take a complaint let alone refuse to identify himself or speak to a support person. This says allot about the officers attitude and training.

Of even more concern is that earlier this year senior Northland Police staff were caught out not lodging formal complaints with the Independent Police Conduct Authority which they are required by legislation to do within 5 days of receiving a complaint. It appears as though Northland Police are still finding ways not to lodge complaints and keep their complaint stats lower than they would be”

 

OPINION:

The New Zealand Police have been in the news recently with allegations of widespread and serious bullying. This comes many years after the 2007 Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct following the Louise Nicholas rape allegations, their handling of the Roast Busters case and the bungled appointment process of deputy commissioner Wally Haumaha, who reportedly had inappropriate views on the Nicholas allegations and an alleged history of bullying. Now, it seems, bullying in the New Zealand Police is a pervasive problem.
The police have announced a full review into bullying in the organisation. Unfortunately for them, this announcement coincided with revelations from a whistleblower that he was threatened with legal action if he did not retract bullying allegations made to the media.
They accuse him of breaking a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) stemming from an earlier settlement. NDAs are powerful tools to cover up misdeeds by the powerful. This police action suggests they care more about reputation than substance.

It is a pity they have not put the same effort into dealing with bullying, rather than stopping allegations of it. The situation is chaotic, and is naturally embarrassing for the police. But will it be embarrassing enough to create change?
Related to this are credible allegations from ex-human resources staff and the police union that people who used the Speak Up process to raise issues of bullying were regarded more as the problem than the behaviour itself, and that its promises of confidentiality were broken. There have also been allegations of conflicts of interest in how these issues were dealt with, which the police have (almost predictably) said is just a matter of confusion and a training issue.
All this follows supposed “culture change” since the 2007 commission of inquiry. This change was presumably quite lucrative for consultants such as PwC New Zealand, which for a number of years after the inquiry did regular reports into the change.
The police are a large organisation and do highly stressful work, so occasional bad apples and bad behaviour are understandable and to be expected. Everyone makes mistakes.
The disappointing aspect is the extent and frequency of them, and how badly the police deal with them. The police appear to have difficulty managing problems when they arise, and seem to be more interested in the appearance of transparency than the reality.
For instance, in the case of Roast Busters, which concerned the botched handling of complaints about a group of young men who bragged online about having sex with drunk and underage girls, the police initially said no complaints had been made to them – before having to change their story in the face of an upcoming Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) investigation.
These examples follow many years of compromised investigations into the Nicholas allegations. They alone should have taught the police, and others, that rigorous and open processes are essential for public trust and the longer-term reputation of the police.
I hope the police haven’t made a mistake with their recent announcement of a review into bullying to be conducted by Debbie Francis, formerly of PwC, who carried out the inquiry into bullying and harassment in the Parliamentary Service.
A more open process would have been to announce the intent to hold an inquiry and a process to appoint someone to conduct it, preferably with some public input. I’m pleased to see the IPCA has agreed to conduct its own investigation.
Organisations often struggle to deal with bullying and other misconduct issues, particularly when they concern people with power in the organisation. The police, however, should be pretty good at this by now. Particularly after 12 years of “culture change”.
* Dr Geoff Plimmer is a senior lecturer in the School of Management at Victoria University of Wellington.

“I’m pleased to see the IPCA has agreed to conduct its own investigation.”

FUCK ME! He’s either totally ignorant or complicit.

 

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