Friday, April 21, 2023

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Frontline police were let down by their bosses

This IPCA report into how police handled the Parliamentary protest last year is not good for Andrew Coster.

Frontline police come out of this really well, they clearly did the best they could in really difficult situations.

When you read this report and listen again to what happened that day, the bricks being hurled at police, the violence of that hard-line crowd left at the end - it’s hard not to be impressed by the front line officers and how the vast majority of them held their cool and cleaned that place up without a huge amount of injury.

They did that while being very obviously let down by their bosses, that is indisputable from this report.

Police National Headquarters let those officers down in a number of ways that have been recorded in this report, but two stand out to me as the worst.

The first one is February 10, that was the first time the police tried to clear Parliament’s grounds.

You might remember that the police formed a big line in the morning and started pushing people back towards the tents. They started arresting protestors, but in the end got nowhere and gave up that afternoon.

That day is a shambles.

It was never going to succeed and it is squarely on Andrew Coster. Because he made the call personally to conduct that operation in a hurry.

What happened was that the night before, a bunch of Government ministers and the Speaker Trevor Mallard met together, decided they wanted the place cleaned up, and then called Andrew Coster.

After that, Coster decided he wanted an operation and made the order. Wellington police were told at 10pm they needed to clean the place up.

At 8 the next morning, the operation started but police were unprepared. They didn’t have enough time to plan, so they didn’t have a plan, they didn’t have enough staff, they didn’t have enough equipment.

It was obvious before midday the operation would fail, but they kept going until 20 to five before calling it off.

As the report says: The operation that Andrew Coster ordered was unlikely to succeed.

Then the second failure- on the day that they actually managed to clear the place, March 2nd, they sent officers in without enough equipment.

The officers weren’t allowed hard body armour in case it made the protestors angry. One sergeant borrowed 2 tasers to share between his three squads of up to 20 people, and they brought in recruits who hadn’t even graduated yet.

The guy who borrowed the tasers ended up with a broken clavicle, that is how rough it got in there.

I don’t think this is resignation material for Coster because the worst didn’t happen.

No one died. There were few injuries in the end. The grounds were cleared. And he can thank the front line for saving his skin on that.

But it’s hard to see him being reappointed when his term is up in a couple of years.

Because this report gives the impression of a guy who consistently doesn’t know the right call to make.

Heather du Plessis-Allan is a journalist and commentator who hosts Newstalk ZB's Drive show.


TJS said...

Hats off to those people that made a stand against government tyranny.

Terry Morrissey said...

Sorry Heather but both Coster and Chambers should resign as they let politicians dictate to them when the police are supposed to be apolitical. A competent commissioner would have resolved the situation without sending in the bully boys. Even if they hadn't been influenced by politicians they just proved themselves incompetent by escalating the situation. Why did the police cover up ID numbers if they did not intend unlawful acts? How many agents provocateur infiltrated the protestors to help the police instigate the violence? Squeaky clean the aer not.

Anonymous said...

A very wordy word salad that completely diminishes what the police did to the protesters. Most of us have zero empathy or sympathy for those police that got hurt in a fight they deliberately ignited, aided by random militants who had no relationship with the protesters whatsoever. The only victims here are the protesters and our democracy. 2 March 2022 was the day we all realised New Zealand had become a dystopian society our veteran grandparents would be ashamed of. HDPA you are on the wrong side of history, again.

Anonymous said...

I'm reluctant to blame the police for the agent provocateurs. I think the local yobbos couldn't resist the temptation of an all-out battle perhaps with some misplaced sympathy for the treatment dished out to the protesters.
The report was good but it's interpretation has been whitewashed. The Police need a new Commissioner.

Anonymous said...

I should have said why I don't think the police planted them. Why would they want their officers pelted with bricks?

TJS said...

Oh I think there were definitely other players involved. Antifa comes to mind. Anarchists who like a good battle, paid shills, by NGOs one billionaire springs to mind, just like the Posie Parker protest. We don't support that violence.

Hans Biemond said...

All this could have been avoided by just one politician coming out and talk to the protesters.
But no none of the had the guts to do so.!!!!!