Saturday, December 18, 2021

Ross Meurant: Rule of Law or Rule of Police

Karl du Fresne, in his article: “New Zealand: where being "anti-government" results in police surveillance(1), defends Cameron Slater’s RIGHT to CHALLENGE, and in the process, Karl exposes police behaviour which tends to validate Voltaire’s lament:

Beware of the words, “Internal security” for they are the eternal cry of the oppressor”. 

But whether we like or dislike others, provided these “others” confine their critiques to within prescribed rules of law, such as avoiding insulting, offensive, threatening language as per statutory law and to avoid the guillotine of civil litigation, by presenting their opinions based on reliable evidence, “others” do have a right to speak out.

If we are denied the right to challenge, we are no longer a democracy.

Under the current reign of the Labour government using covid as weapon to intimidate, the right to speak out, by my assessment, is definitely under threat.  For example, medical professionals who present empirical research which challenges preferred government protocols, can be threatened with de-registration at worst or vilification at the least.

History tells us that no science has endured without facing scrutiny which invariably modifies a proposition.  Charles Darwin’s theory of Evolution, is perhaps the best example.

Karl’s Slater article focuses on, ‘back-room’ strategy (aka bar room wisdom) by police to deal with someone they consider to be a miscreant.  For example, he writes:

Ominously, a police intelligence briefing disclosed concern that Slater “will continue to public voice opinions on topical matters which may add to conspiracy theorist engagement across social media”. And an unnamed senior sergeant wondered whether the cops should pay Slater a visit because he posted “possibility [sic] controversial racist comments” about the September terrorist incident at Lynn Mall.

And as Karl comments;

So, being anti-government is now seen as a potential threat to public safety? This is the type of state paranoia that ultimately leads to monitoring of phone calls and knocks on the door at midnight. Slater was right to describe it as sinister.           

Karl’s perspicacity may raise the question in the minds of the more cerebral: “How deep does this attitude infect the police and where did it come from?”

In my latest Novel, Out of the Inferno (of which Chris Trotter wrote:  The only way Meurant can tell the truth is write fiction) one of three main players in the book – a detective inspector, ruthlessly justifies rule of police over rule of law, on the grounds of greater public good, when of course, he is the arbiter of, “public good”.

The book is no parody – and feedback from former cops of my ilk, say: “Meurant.  You got this so right.”  That is the tragedy, which I will now endeavour to succinctly expose, by validating the sagacity of Karl du Fresno’s critique of Cameron Slater’s plight.

My former ilk?

As a former inspector in charge of police spies and before that a Red Squad commander and before that a detective and AOS member, I was once, Deep in the Forest of police culture.

In previous articles I have delved into this forest.  North & South magazine (Oct 2011) produced When Good Cops Go Bad, 8,000 words of specific names and places of profile events where police fabricated evidence to gain convictions.  Justification was invariably; “We know best and do this for the good of the country.”

The article is brutal. It attracted denials and obfuscations from senior police, but no one sued me.  Truth can be a bitch. To deny truth, is to avoid the problem and this gets to the nub of Karl’s concerns. 

As Plato said: “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”                                                                                            

This article will not regurgitate the case studies in, When Good Cops Go Bad, (2) but I take the following extract from the introduction section, and present it as some part of the answer to the question; “How deep does this attitude infect the police and where did it come from?”

Like most recruits, I entered the police as an impressionable young man with a basic education, from a working-class environment in provincial NZ. There were hundreds of peers like me, before me and after me. I was nothing special but I was altruistic. We were all cannon fodder. Easy to manipulate. We looked at the forest before us in awe.

The moment you step into the police, this subculture within NZ culture hits you. You are immediately part of the thin blue line. You are part of a team and that team looks after itself. You are special. You are the border between good and evil. The attitudes of the police instructors, armed not with teaching certificates but with ten years' exposure to the police subculture, either consciously or subconsciously invite you into the forest.

To step out of police college is to take the next step into the forest. You are now part of the difference between law and order in the streets where gangs would rule and evil would triumph. But for you and your fellow coppers, society would be a dangerous place. Your mission is to protect society from this evil. Very soon you learn to decide what is evil and what is not. You are no longer just a collector of human rubbish at the base of the cliff but you have an obligation; yes, even a duty to guide the country to a decent society. That direction is best decided by you and others in your sub culture of police, for what better epitomises the values of a decent society than those cherished by the men and women in blue? Your task is honourable. What better vocation than to rid the country of evil? Thus, achieving this end can even justify the means!

The further into the forest, the more pervasive becomes this police culture. The heart of the beast is centred in elite CIB squads like Regional Crime, Criminal Intelligence and Drug Squad. These are the destinations to which the most ambitious and zealous aspire. Together with the Armed Offenders Squad and Team Policing (Red Squad) units, these entities are the bastion of police culture.

Of course, there are those who do not aspire to these objectives but then, the police are also a government department, which always harbour a good number of "glide timers": there to collect their pay and do as little as possible, which is the best route to longevity in any government agency. Often these people will suddenly find themselves floating on the top of the pool.

Every new entrant runs the same gauntlet. No recruit is ever formally "taught" to use violence, to lie and cover up. None of my mentors did that to me and I never did it to those whom I mentored. But the culture sends a very clear message. "When you witness transgression by a colleague, keep your mouth shut at worst and at best, provide an account which supports the miscreant and helps him/her out of a sticky situation."

If you don't, as a new recruit, you are ostracised. You may as well quit there and then. But once you have provided succour, you have taken your next step into the forest. Later you will witness another indiscretion and you will again "cover". After all, you have been accepted as one of the team. You are "reliable". To lose that status is not a desirable outcome. But already you are compromised. Then one day you will commit an indiscretion and others will cover for you. Then you are beholden. Then you have entered the forest proper. There is no light to show the way home.

Where did this attitude come from?   It’s been around for some time.  Read the facts based 8000-word article: When Good Cops Go Bad (2)

I am mindful that some readers will despair at this description of the police.                           

Remember Plato.  If we don’t accept facts, we can’t fix what’s wrong.

I see the documentation in Karl’s article, released under OIA, exposes this police culture as being alive and well today.  Clearly, the culture played a role during the illegal raids on Dot Com which were condemned by then Judge Helen Winkelmann). (3)

Anxieties of some may be assuaged, that the culture I was caught in, represents about a third of the police (by my calculations when I was a cop).  However, invariable it is this group who are, “leaders of the pack”.

I am mindful that many regard me as having been a participant of, “Deep in the Forest” culture.

My excuse is, that I was just a country boy from a lower socio-economic decile in a conservative rural rump of New Zealand.  Easily lead.  As were my grandfather and father, who typical of the fodder who devotedly followed the flag of God, King and Empire and went to Flanders and Alamein, I followed boldly the ‘back room’ instruction of the NCOs whom I looked up to in awe at the time, and obeyed.

My epiphany arrived via exposure to a different input of education.   By the time I was a sergeant I had completed all my promotion examinations to commissioned rank and was granted a place at Auckland University.  In the new environment of education, gradually I began to understand that the rule of law was of a higher value than the rule of the police.

As Karl writes in his defence of Slater’s right to challenge authority:

“There are people in the police hierarchy who apparently think that anyone who criticises the government should be watched. This was also the mentality of East Germany’s Stasi, South Africa’s BOSS (the Bureau of State Security) and Haitian dictator Papa Doc Duvalier’s murderous Tonton Macoute.”

These are troubling times for New Zealand, as they are for most every state on the planet.  Covid was the catalyst but as one views the pervasiveness of the WOKE culture, particularly as it manifests in the education sector, my assessment is that New Zealand has a major problem.

Where academics of high esteem are vilified, threatened with de-registration and ostracised for speaking out in defence of western science as having more empirical substance the Maori myth?     Dr Michael Bassett.  Professor Liz Rata.  Professor Robert Nola.  The list of eminent educationalists is growing daily. 

Meanwhile, Main Stream Media is a WOKE JOKE. 

Thank you, Muriel. Don’t go away.  Or should I say, “I hope they don’t take you way.”  For as Karl ponders:

“What next, I wonder. Will we hear people like Slater described as “enemies of the state” or “enemies of the people” – phrases used by brutal totalitarian regimes of both the extreme right (Nazi Germany) and extreme left (the Soviet Union) to justify the incarceration of troublesome individuals on the pretext that it’s for the good of society?”

Ross Meurant, graduate in politics both at university and as a Member of Parliament; formerly police inspector in charge of Auckland spies & V.I.P. security; currently Honorary Consul for an African state, Trustee and CEO of Russian owned commercial assets in New Zealand and has international business interests.



1 comment:

TOny Noble said...

The very same dynamics are at work among those in the media and any Government department. Imagine being young, working as a journalist or trying to be successful in a Government organization, and speaking out in favour of the idea of New Zealand being a democracy where everybody should be treated equally under the law. Your career would be just as doomed as a young police officer refusing to protect a colleague over a matter of principal, as Ross describes.