The Politics of Get a Man

This is much more visible in American culture, as it has existed through the racial feuds of Black against White, since the days of slavery.

Modern technology has released many men in the US from wrongful conviction, especially black men who were essentially convicted, on the basis that if they were proven to have been present, they must have done it.

It’s the ugly side of the human mind, that takes the freedom of another human being, to prove expedience, at the expense of what the majority of us like to believe is justice.

We’re not perfect in New Zealand. Perhaps it is only … that this … is not so visible, at least to ourselves – I can’t speak for the independent observer outside of our goldfish bowl.

The last man hanged in New Zealand was a lesson for us. We, yes, ‘we’ hung a man for a murder-that-wasn’t. It wasn’t right, but looking forward we abolished the death penalty and aimed to do better.

The political pressures of the 1970s derailed that idea. With murders increasing, suspects becoming more random, failures in getting the basics right, holes began to show in a system that we believed was much more capable than we thought. What we saw appearing, was perceived as failure, rather than a failure to evolve with a changing society.

Politicians demanded better, they wanted convictions, not failed inquiries. It was the Arthur Allan Thomas case, that was the undoing of the Police and our Justice system. It was a tireless media that brought out in the end, not only the truth, but a truth about ourselves.

This lesson was learnt, or should have been a couple of decades back, but when the now Commissioner of Police spoke in unwise denial at the funeral of one of the investigating officers from the Crewe Murder – that was ‘clear evidence’ that there still exists within the Police, an acceptance of the right to pursue expedience in the name of credibility, over and above their obligation to pursue the truth.

The police are not there to ‘get people’. A culture of this nature is an abuse of power, and damaging to society. We’ve seen that play out in an unfortunate manner of recent, with a raid on a journalist’s apartment. It’s well publicized and I’m not going to rehash that story here.

But there’s another side to this culture that is equally disturbing, which shows up in another murder investigation – that of Lisa Blakie. There’s evidence to suggest, that again, the wrong man is in jail. Regardless of his race, his social standing, or anything else that’s happened since, if there’s the possibility that the wrong man has been convicted, that is as urgent as the initiation of any murder inquiry, when a homicide is first suspected.

We had a new Minister of Police appointed yesterday, in the form of the resurrected Judith Collins. Maybe the Prime Minister can see the gaping wounds, and the dwindling professional surfacing again within the leadership of the Police?

Well, if The Crusher is out to crush again, maybe she could start with this culture of mediocrity, this acceptance of second best, this culture of get a man, rather than get the job done the right way.

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