Monday, November 29, 2021

Kevin Boyle: The Auckland Terrorist Attack – A Seminal Case Study and Blueprint for Change?

The Auckland terror attack on 3 Sept 2021 that resulted in the death of the terrorist Ahamed Samsudeen and seriously injured seven innocent people, could have been prevented. The event presents as a seminal case study into how society attempts but fails to prevent crime using policing, and evidence of the failure here can help define a blueprint for change.

Policing is responsible for crime prevention alongside its core law enforcement role, but it does not and cannot prevent crime. Unaware of this fault, it continues to covet the role by defending its failures and influencing law changes that do not enhance its prevention value. The most vexing consequence is policing’s ability to control the message that allows it to obstruct the fault from lawmakers who are then unable to expose and remedy it.

But policing demonstrated the critical disconnect between its dual roles when it ignored an academic-led intervention solution that could have prevented Samsudeen carrying out his attack in favor of its own ill-fated law enforcement 24/7 surveillance method that failed.

Dr Clarke Jones, senior research fellow and criminologist at the Australian National University, proposed his program for Samsudeen in 2018 when he was on trial for objectionable posts online. Dr Jones’ program was sanctioned by the Crown’s prosecution team but policing unilaterally ignored it in favor of its law enforcement approach that exacerbated the attack.  

Dr Jones appeared in a recent Sunday investigation in New Zealand into whether the attack could have been prevented, and he published a post on 5 Sept entitled “I Assessed the Auckland Terrorist - Our Approach Needs to Change”. He is frustrated that his intervention program was ignored by policing, and he is calling for change that would ensure early intervention solutions like his are better considered to prevent terror attacks in the future.

Dr Jones did not propose what that change might look like, but this is unsurprising given the fault that caused his program to be overlooked has never been exposed. Whilst it is essential for policing to have sole autonomy over law enforcement where it is expert and without peer, the fault affords it similar authority over crime prevention, where it unwittingly fails.  

This is depicted in a 5 Sept post published by Dr Muriel Newman, founder of the New Zealand Centre for Political Research, entitled “The High Cost of Failure”. She outlines an accurate timeline and extensive overview of Samsudeen’s case, and she records New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s reaction in support of policing’s strategy, post the attack.   

The prime minister accepted policing’s advice when she concluded, “Agencies used every tool available to protect innocent people from this individual. Every legal avenue was tried”.

It is true that every law enforcement avenue was tried, but the prime minister ignored Dr Jones’ prevention solution, overlooking that it could have prevented the attack. This blind adherence to policing’s summation demonstrates how it controls the message, obstructing lawmakers from exposing its fault and remedying it. Dr Newman: “mental health support, court-ordered psychological assessments, nor rehabilitation appear to have taken place”.

And when asked if law enforcement had exacerbated his extremism, the prime minister similarly responded, “nothing ever suggested that”. But Dr Jones refuted this when he said, “it was not the right answer…for him to be placed on monitoring and surveillance… if they had addressed his mental health needs, we might not have been in this situation now”.

Dr Newman concluded: “without addressing the potential failings of the state that may have contributed to the tragedy, the prime minister instead focused on potential failings of the law”. A Counter-Terrorism Bill that makes it a criminal offense to plan a terrorist attack has since been passed into law but not everyone is convinced it would enhance public safety.

Professor Andrew Geddes, Otago University law professor believed existing laws were sufficient to detain would-be terrorists. He said, “… extending the criminal law’s reach to people thinking about doing something is a step too far… we don’t usually punish people for what they are planning to do, rather for what they actually do”. 

Dr Paul Buchanan, an intelligence analyst, also believed our existing criminal laws were “enough to deal with terrorism-related crimes”.

Graeme Edgeler, a Wellington barrister and constitutional law expert echoed these concerns in his damming submission on the Bill, questioning the need to change the definition of a terrorist act… “which has been intentionally widened to seemingly ensure significantly more New Zealanders will be targeted and charged as terrorists”.      

Dr Newman: “the government is (also) considering changing immigration law, in conflict with UN conventions, to make it possible to deport any refugee that poses a threat to society. This along with criminalizing people for crimes they haven’t committed, represent significant constitutional changes that will undermine the freedom and rights of New Zealanders”.

These law changes mirror our response to the Christchurch terror attack in 2019 where new gun laws around assault weapons criminalized innocent New Zealanders and, in the event, remain in question as gun violence has spiked appreciably in New Zealand since, and perhaps notably against policing.

It is an increasingly unbalanced response to major crime where law reform is considered to aid policing’s ability to prevent crime but doesn’t. Ever-increasing deterrents in law enforcement are not prevention, they instead reflect subjugation to a siege mentality where the criminals win, and innocent individual’s rights and freedoms are increasingly encroached.  

The cause of the fault is in crime prevention, whereas its symptoms invariably manifest in law enforcement. Consequently, it is only ever the symptoms in law enforcement that are focused upon and addressed, but without first remedying the cause, the symptoms are certain recur. Addressing the cause in prevention would allow interventions like Dr Jones’ the opportunity to prevent the symptoms from manifesting, prior to the need for enforcement.

The fault is very evident here and compels the need for change to policing that has otherwise served society well for two millennia, but its control of the message around its failure in crime prevention has provided little chance for substantive reform to ever-evolving consequences.

A logical pathway for change would be academia that Dr Jones represents. Social contract theory forms societies, maintains social order and can renegotiate existing social contracts that are not working; and policing in the crime prevention role is not working.

Dr Jones’ call for better prevention answers came at the same time I intended proposing my remedy to him. I identified the same fault in policing obstructing his intervention program that I had exposed 30 years ago in proprietary security management in commerce, that replicated the faulted policing ideology. At that time, I refused to be obstructed by self-interested peers and founded a successful intervention method in its antithesis. It went on to prevent $multi-million losses over a five-year period that could not be prevented by security management, until it fell to a dogmatic change manager’s adherence to the policing ideology’s best practice, and the losses returned.

In this case, Dr Jones has exposed policing’s failure to prevent a serious crime and Dr Newman has exposed policing’s subsequent obfuscation of it to lawmakers. Together with my concept that offers both remedy, this is a perfect storm that combines all the elements needed to foment substantive change, not only to facilitate Dr Jones’s specialized intervention programs for terror suspects, but to intervene on all crime for the purpose of preventing it, universally.  

I researched, developed and proved this concept “in the field” and it is ready to be adopted in-situ into any environment of governance and compliance oversight of any rules, edicts or regulations in commerce or sport that suffers corruptive offending or losses. Or it can be peer reviewed and researched by academia to the same end. Perhaps a combination of both would be mutually expedient. Dr Jones might already concur with my conclusion that policing does not and cannot prevent crime and the success of my solution in the field would provide greater context and explanation to theoretical research in academia.     

In 2014, I self-published a book entitled, “Hit It With A Bigger Hammer” depicting how society attempts to prevent crime using policing and when it fails, employing a bigger and bigger policing hammer. Its solution 30 years ago addresses the same fault today that will continue to perpetuate until remedied.

Intervention is generic and a well proven prevention method in myriad social scenarios, but it is not fundamentally adopted in crime prevention, arguably its most urgent need. This is because intervention cannot co-exist with law enforcement because it does not countenance counselling or warnings as a first response. This is not the fault of policing that is expert in law enforcement, but a societal misstep that attached the crime prevention role to policing simply because of a perceived synergy between the two roles.  

But far from being synergistic, the Auckland terror event highlighted the serious disconnect and conflict in its dual responsibility, illustrating that the two separate, antithetic roles require opposing elements that cannot be performed together under one umbrella.  

To further prove this, the criminal “code of silence” that protects society’s criminals is caused by the punitive consequence of reporting offenders to police and it is actively reinforced by criminals with intimidatory threat. It impacts every social interaction in every institution, even in policing itself as the blue “code of silence”; witnessed in obstructing intervention that would have prevented George Floyd’s death at the hands of policing in America in 2020.  And the “code of silence” is sanctioned by another unhelpful social convention that stigmatizes those who report offenders as “informers”, “rats”, “narks” and “whistleblowers”.

When society first incepted crime management it did not intend an obstructive “code of silence” to protect its criminals that denied information and cooperation at the coalface of offending where all the knowledge of offending resides with those closest to the offender.  

No-one is prepared to bring punitive consequence to offenders to invoke retaliation let alone be stigmatized by society for doing so. Because policing needs this knowledge to prosecute crime, it is obliged to use mistrusting covert, spying, surveillance, monitoring methods to gather intelligence, which further polarizes those with knowledge of offending.

But intervention also relies on this knowledge to successfully prevent offending and denying it with the “code of silence” does not help anyone, particularly the victims whose lives are seriously impacted. It does not help victims of sexual harassment in the workplace who remain silent for fear of retribution by offenders in positions of power who threaten their ongoing employment. And it does not help the majority in the workplace who do not offend but whose livelihoods are threatened by cost saving, redundancy measures to off-set losses caused by a minority who do offend and are unfairly protected by the “code of silence”.

It was in this latter setting that my concept was founded by a group of 45 potential victims whose livelihoods were threatened by internal offending. They finally understood the false loyalty of the “code of silence” where their ongoing silence protected offenders who had no regard for their safety or wellbeing, so they founded a solution in the antithesis of the policing ideology.

Their following agreed contract underpins the solution now named “The Responsibility Contract”:  

“I agree with society’s rule of law, criminal law and serious misconduct in employment contracts. I understand they maintain social order and keep people and communities safe. I agree not to offend against them and if I do, I agree to be warned by anyone who has knowledge of my offending. If I am warned, I agree to stop offending. If I ignore a warning, I agree that my offending can be formally reported to an appropriate authority. If I have knowledge of others offending, I agree that I will warn them and if my warning is not heeded, I agree to formally report the offending to the appropriate authority.” 

The inclusive, mutual agreement includes management and repudiates the criminal “code of silence” by reversing its implied tolerance of offending and stigmatization of informants, simply by shifting the first response to offending from prosecution to prevention.  

This universal, holistic agreement can underpin a social contract renegotiation to substitute policing in the crime prevention role with a dedicated, independent agency inside the criminal justice system. An agency that could collaborate with policing’s law enforcement role, the courts and corrections to achieve optimum possible crime management outcomes.

This would allow the majority to overcome the minority that unfairly benefit financially in commerce, or gain competitive advantage through doping in sport, or are protected from sexual harassment, family violence, drink driving, bullying in schools or any other anti-social behavior etc., etc.

It can be embraced in existing employment contracts in commerce, sport, and the public sectors. This would embrace the majority in society to provide the impetus for wider societal intolerance and adoption. It is an acceptable alternative to policing oversight that is increasingly invasive and exhibits frustration with ever-increasing crime it cannot prevent.

Discussions around alternative solutions to policing are happening globally in the wake of increasing excessive force and allegations of institutionalized racism in policing. Calls to defund, disband or rethink policing are becoming more and more common, even in New Zealand as published on 5 June 2020 by Auckland University Law School’s Dylan Asafo, a Harvard University Master of Law specializing in critical race theory, entitled Time to dismantle our rotting house.

However, defunding policing without providing an alternative solution will only result in more crime and the need for more policing. Whereas a successful crime prevention solution will defund policing by attrition and equally reduce the need for costly private security management and integrity units.

Minneapolis in America became a symbol of all that was wrong with US policing after George Floyd’s murder, and it wanted to disband or defund policing. 18 months on it is still divided and recently voted against disbanding but is still seeking policing reform without knowing the shape of that reform. Lawmakers’ frustration is best summed up by Police Chief, Medaria Arradondo, “I was not expecting some sort of word-for-word plan but at this point frankly I would take a drawing on a napkin.”

The city agrees policing is fundamental to society, but it also agrees policing has problems in its present format and Mayor Jacob Frey together with other prominent politicians, continue to seek answers But like Dr Jones, Mayor Frey does not know what that answer might be, whereas my concept substantively provides the answer and New Zealand can front-foot policing reform where it customarily follows America’s lead.

Although this presents as an extreme solution, its consequences are extreme. They cause systemic failure to criminal justice systems where preventable crime congests criminal courts, overcrowds prisons, and stretches policing resources, self-perpetuating the need for more policing to manage ever-increasing crime. And its fault in commerce, sport and government public sectors manifest in similar unnecessary loss and innocent victims, incurring significant fiscal and social cost to society.

Over the past 30 years the concept has been proposed to manage major corruption in commerce and international sport, as an alternative to security management that prevailed simply because it was accepted best international management practice. However, the concept received widespread approbation and assurances to revisit it again if the offending continued, which it inevitably did. However, the expert policing advice had been established internally in these organizations and was thus able to control the message around the continued offending to deflect all such critiques.  

These included the International Cricket Council (ICC) for match fixing; the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF), World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Football (FIFA) for doping and corruption; also, Australian Rugby League, New Zealand Rugby Union, New Zealand Racing and TAB and also proposed to the Royal Commission of Enquiry into the Christchurch terror attack, Minneapolis City Council and Police Department, Georgetown Law/University (Washington DC) partnership with American Policing in response to George Floyd’s murder, and many other political, sports and business organizations.

It was also proposed to American Congresswoman, Cori Bush, who recently introduced “The People’s Response Act” to the House of Representatives. This Act is the latest attempt in the US to defund policing with an alternative solution, but it overlooks the underlying fault in policing and crime prevention that, if exposed and addressed, would significantly enhance the independent agency proposed under the Act. This Act shows society is catching up to my concept where an independent agency is proposed but in missing the underlying fault, its motivation is a societal response to committed crime as opposed to societal prevention of crime at its coalface.        

Policing would acknowledge my conclusions are soundly based. It would welcome exposing the conflict in its dual roles as a societal misstep that is not of its making which would help offset historical unfair criticism and provide it the platform for much improved outcomes.

It would free up policing to concentrate on its law enforcement role to achieve optimum law enforcement outcomes and allow it to collaborate with the newly created independent crime prevention agency to achieve optimum intervention outcomes; that together would provide society with the best possible overall outcomes in crime management.

Policing has always sought closer interface with communities, like ‘Neighborhood Watch’ and ‘Community Policing’. But whilst useful deterrents and public relations, they do not overcome the criminal “code of silence” or the social stigmata around reporting offenders.

Just like its collaboration with the innovative organization Crimestoppers that has emerged globally as an extension to policing, a buffer between policing and the coalface knowledge of offending. But it can only offer the same anonymity safeguards for information as policing and it does not prevent crime, as its name suggests. The same unhelpful “code of silence” still applies to the information it seeks as does the social stigmata of reporting offenders. The exact same criteria apply to private confidential hotlines that seek anonymous information. They all form part of a covert policing ideology that fosters mistrust and polarizes those with knowledge, although Crimestoppers gets closer.

Notwithstanding, Crimestoppers is a successful collaboration that proves policing can partner with an independent agency, where prior to this policing resisted private partnerships. Crimestoppers is independently funded and has successfully established global reach and resources which would make it an ideal partner for this solution that would provide it real crime prevention outcomes to truly validate its name.    

Criminal courts also embrace alternative, culture-based solutions and there are myriad other intervention initiatives that already exist in society that would benefit from being formally incorporated into a single dedicated prevention agency, inside the criminal justice system.

I would welcome the opportunity to work with Dr Jones or any other expert in academia to peer review my concept, or any business manager or sports administrator experiencing corruption who now comprehends this concept and is willing to pioneer it as a new, innovative solution.   

Kevin Boyle is a dedicated ex-policeman who challenged and exposed policing's inability to prevent crime and established a successful remedy in its antithesis.  

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