A response to Police Commissioner Mike Bush



Police Commissioner Mike Bush has reacted to the excellently researched critique of the NZ Police force by Bryce Edwards with all the alpha male privileged arrogance that remarkably underscores Edwards argument.

Let’s dissect Bush’s insincere sophistry column by column…

I challenge Dr Bryce Edwards to get out from behind his desk and see first-hand the outstanding work 12,000 New Zealand Police staff do every day.

…ahh, the good old ‘wimpy intellectual sitting behind their desk’ argument. Nothing deflects well thought out criticism in NZ better than by appealing to our anti-intellectualism. Bush may as well call Dr Edwards a commie pinko, because writing his criticisms off with such a broad statement is designed more to attack the messenger and focus attention on them than what is actually being said. It’s a tactic Key uses every time he is caught out lying about a mass surveillance lie.

I have no doubt this would give him a better-informed picture of modern policing, rather than re-visiting a selective handful of high-profile issues dating back over the past 50 years.

…Oh that’s the defence is it? These events took place half a century ago? Luckily for Bush, BLIP at the Standard has recorded every abuse of Police power since 2008. Let’s have a brief look shall we?

05/12/08 – Wellington police officer Jason Manu Casson is discharged without conviction for stealing $90.

11/12/08 – Another police chase, another crash.

16/12/08 – Palmerston North police officer Timothy Hesketh, 27, who lied during investigations and showed no remorse was found guilty of breaking a prisoner’s neck yet escapes a jail sentence.

09/02/09 – A police recruit escapes assault charges and is permitted to graduate with any sanction or note on his personal file. He first posting was South Auckland.

11/02/09 – Lower Hutt police leave confidential documents behind after executing a search warrant putting witnesses at risk of gang violence and then fail to own up at a subsequent IPCA enquiry. The inquiry noted: “The conflicting accounts given by the two officers, and the facts that no officer has taken responsibility for the loss of the Operation Order and that the Police investigator has not been able to identify that officer, are undesirable. Whilst there is no evidence of criminal conduct in relation to the loss of the order, its loss does amount to misconduct.” The Mongrel Mob say they know who left the report behind but were never interviewed.

17/03/09 – The IPCA criticises police for their continuing failure to develop procedures for the prompt drug and alcohol testing of officers involved in serious incidents.

27/03/09 – A Christchurch officer broke a number of police protocols in the lead up to the fatal shooting of Stephen Bellingham. The IPCA finds that the unnamed officer: did not tell his communications controller he was going to the scene, nor did he advise them he was armed, failed to brief two other officers who were on their way to the scene so that he could tackle Bellingham with support, and, crucially, a dog patrol unit, which would have been a huge asset to the effort to contain Bellingham, was diverted to another crime.

30/03/09 – Nelson police officer Anthony Dale Bridgman is convicted of two counts of dangerous driving after he pulled out in front of two motorcyclists, seriously injuring both.

24/03/09 – Another police chase, another crash.

19/05/09 – Head of the Police Prosecution Service Superintendent Graham Thomas steps down after it is revealed that he refused to undergo a breath test.

29/05/09 IPCA states that Auckland Police officer Constable Aaron Holmes was breaking the law and ignoring official policy when he seriously injured innocent teenage Farhat Buksh.

20/06/09 – An unnamed police officer is reprimanded for writing out the employment details of a driver on a speeding ticket as “kitchen bitch”.

25/07/09 – Northland police run down two pedestrians, killing one and injuring another.

15/08/09 – An Auckland constable is suspended after it was alledged that he leaked sensitive information to help a known criminal to avoid arrest. The unnamed officer was in a squad which targets “volume crime”, in particular burglaries, and had access to the police intelligence database.

…and the list goes on and on and on. So let’s knock this rebuttal by Bush on the head right away shall we? We are not talking about issues that are half a century old, we are talking about an ongoing and worsening culture whereby the Police have become a law unto themselves. To suggest Bryce is basing his argument on ancient issues is false and misleading.

Back to Bush’s column.

Space does not allow me to respond point-by-point to his assertions, nor am I in a position to re-litigate the historic cases.

Well let’s take up some space here shall we Mike? How about the over 300 woman who were sexually assaulted by the NZ Police Force? How about the Police Association Cheerleader Greg O’Connor describing being held to account for the implementation of the recommendations to stamp out the sado-masochistic gang rape culture of the Police as ‘ritualistic humiliation’ manages to sum up everything wrong with the Police? Simply shrugging off most of the evidence Bryce is using because Bush doesn’t have the space is convenient.

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I can, however, say he grossly misrepresents New Zealand Police, particularly our victim-focused frontline staff who work tirelessly every day to prevent crime and deal with the worst behaviour in our communities.

I’m sorry what? In the wake of the appalling manner in which the NZ Police framed Teina Pora and the RapeBuster case, Bush – who praised the Detective who planted evidence in the infamous Crewe murders– dares to pull the ‘victim focused frontline staff’ line is he? Let’s ask the young woman who were victims of the Roastbuster rape club if they feel they were victim-focused?

I can, however, say he grossly misrepresents New Zealand Police, particularly our victim-focused frontline staff who work tirelessly every day to prevent crime and deal with the worst behaviour in our communities.

Police staff make difficult decisions every day while displaying courage and resilience.

On behalf of the communities they serve, they deal with situations which, thankfully, most of the public don’t have to experience.

Every year police respond to 1.94 million phone calls for advice or assistance and about 772,000 emergency calls.

I am proud to say the overwhelming majority of these are dealt with in line with our core values of professionalism and empathy.

This is ridiculous. Yes there are plenty of officers who do amazing work in trying situations that most NZers would have difficulty identifying with. The job is stressful, emotionally damaging and dangerous, and for those doing that job well we offer our support and thanks. BUT we aren’t talking about those cops, we are talking about the cops who are abusing their powers, we are talking about the cops who turn a blind eye to those abusing their powers, we are talking about an alpha male complex that sees their actions as above the law. The cops doing their jobs properly aren’t the problem, holding them up to deflect attention on the problem ones is again simply misleading.

This is why New Zealand Police has levels of trust and confidence that are the envy of most equivalent overseas jurisdictions.

This is so important to us that we continually measure public perceptions of police using the independent research company Gravitas.

The overall result for last year showed “high” or “very high” trust and confidence at 78 per cent, from a sample of 9260 members of the public.

But don’t just take our word for it.

Recent reports from the State Services Commission and the independent research company UMR ranked police highly on public perceptions.

The police force was the second highest Government institution in which the public had “a great deal or quite a lot of confidence”, according to UMR.

This is pure sophistry. NZers have an authority worship complex, they slavishly side with cops no matter what the issue, and that’s part of the problem . Holding up stats that show the sleepy hobbits of NZ are easy to con isn’t any proof NZ Police not being corrupt, these are the same sleepy hobbits who elected John Key despite knowing his office colluded with the SIS to falsely smear the Leader of the Opposition months before an election.

As Commissioner I am not complacent about these numbers. We can only achieve the best outcomes for communities – that they be safe and feel safe – if we have the consent of the public.

This is why our overall vision is to have the trust and confidence of all.

We must earn that trust every day, and be continually focused on achieving it.

Trust is also built on owning and being accountable for our mistakes. We don’t claim to get it right every time and our staff are only human. We apologise and work hard to put things right when we get it wrong.

Remember all those top cops who were rolled out onto current affairs shows to lie about their incompetence over the Roastbuster case? Where was this leadership last year? Has it just turned up now has it?

Police is rightly one of the most scrutinised of any Government agency, be it from the courts, Government, media, the public or other agencies, especially the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

I reject outright any suggestion that police is “thumbing its nose” at the IPCA. The authority is vital in helping us learn from our mistakes and continuously improve.

Oh come on! The bloody IPCA is still cops investigating cops, and when they are critical it’s a mere slap on the wrist recommendation that is issued. The cops don’t need to thumb their nose at the IPCA because the IPCA can’t do anything meaningful.

I must also challenge two other points Edwards raised.

Does he really think that a 100 per cent resolution rate for murder is just a “box-ticking” way for police to “prove themselves”?

I’d say it is something the public should rightly expect.

This is selective rebuttal that still doesn’t address Edwards core criticisms.

And are 23,000 incoming social media contacts from the public every week just a product of “slick marketing” as he seems to think?

In my view, our 40-odd Facebook pages are vital tools for engaging with local communities to prevent and solve crime.

No, Bryce is referring to the crime porn reality TV you produce that is little more than outright propaganda that keeps the sleepy hobbits bound to the myths that Police authority should never be challenged.

Edwards may be one of the minority who just don’t like police. I have no issue with that and we have broad shoulders when it comes to criticism.

Oh this is nonsense, Edwards is an academic who has presented a well researched critique of the Police, insinuating that he is some anarchist who dislikes the Police is shallow and petty.

But I take issue when he undermines and misleads about the good work of modern police staff.

I will leave the final word to a young constable who contacted me directly after reading the article.

He represents the New Zealand Police of today, not 50 years ago.

“As a cop who is 2-years in, I’m learning to tolerate negative and inaccurate media reporting. But this article is the worst I’ve read since joining.

“It just bugs me that my colleagues and I bust our guts to catch criminals and help victims, yet all we get is negative publicity. Having said that I’m still loving the job.”

Hiding behind a young bushy tailed bright eyed cop to deflect criticism simply confirms this as a puff piece. Who polices the police is a fundamental issue in a democracy, it is not the ravings of niche academics who supposedly have a chip on their shoulder with cops, that Bush has not responded in any meaningful way is as disturbing as it is empty. The vast powers that Key has handed the police and the manner in which the Police are consistently abusing those powers demands a response far better than this shallow crap.


  1. Mr Bush said,

    “Recent reports from the State Services Commission and the independent research company UMR ranked police highly on public perceptions.

    The police force was the second highest Government institution in which the public had “a great deal or quite a lot of confidence”, according to UMR.”

    Sorry but UMR is a favourite employee of the John Key Government and hardly could be considered “Independent” now could they?

    These poll companies have now been found to produce flawed polls that have been found to be understating some results.

    Any poll company is now suspect as the issue of use of electronic tabulation is placing doubt into the authenticity of such pools taken using electronic tabulation.


    A public request.

    Mr Bush please investigate this issue that was exposed by a senior electronic poll programmer who rigged such electronic tabulation programs that can be used to falsify the polls and destroy the evidence so that it cannot be found afterwards.

    Food for thought Mr Bush but for honesty and truth please consider this as a public request for an “Independent” investigating into rigged polls please now you have the facts how easy they can be rigged.
    Yours truly.

    • It’s a sad state of affairs ain’t it when the Commisar of Polis has to resort to the ‘evidence’ of pollsters in support of their argument.
      Rest in Peace Peter Williams. Your efforts weren’t in vein?….. merely that they weren’t enough volume and interest from a nation of sleepy hobbits.
      Never mind though – the tipping point approaches and no gated community, or muddle classer who is blind enough not to see the bleeding obvious isn’t going to be enough to protect themselves from things that cudda shudda wudda been pretty easy to resolve. (such as an amnesty THEN really hard crackdown on illegal weaponry; or ….. greater investment in community policing ….. or [the list is fucking endless really] – suffice to say the current bean counter-oriented, severely politicised policing activity that’s going on in our corporatised Polis Force ain’t fucking working. Maybe a few basic Public Service values would be a good start!

  2. Martyn, nothing ever is what it seems. If there is strong opinion on the one side, there is always going to be strong opinion fired straight back. Somewhere, in the middle of this we find form our own opinion. This article merely tells me that the Police stand behind their work and that Bryce Edwards, and it appears, yourself, wish to bring to light the very worst of Police behaviour. Yet the good is far too extensive to document. When someone attacks the Police force they do so as a whole and it attracts negativity as a whole. Should the commissioner just accept Edwards attack? When I am attacked, which I have been, I defend and fight back. I completely agree that corruption needs addressing, and an independent body is needed to address this. However, it is government – that don’t want this to happen. Please see: http://www.anticorruption.co.nz/2015/01/06/what-happened-to-the-petition-for-a-commission-against-corruption/ Corruption is a difficult issue, because our government will not even define what it is! If it is not defined, it does not exist!

    • ” wish to bring to light the very worst of Police behavior”

      kind of the first step to fixing it – so when the police commisioner refuses to take that on board – and instead misdirects by misrepresenting criticism – how well will the actual issue be addressed?

      Its no ones fault but theirs if their yard is full of trash and its pissing the neighbors off. Inside the house is lovely though

  3. “… New Zealand Police has levels of trust and confidence that are the envy of most equivalent overseas jurisdictions.” ~ Mike Bush

    New Zealanders simply aren’t informed about the level of corruption in this country because successive Governments and police administrations have effectively hidden their filth.

    Mike Bush knows this — for it was he who held oversight of the inquiry into my criminal offending and it’s been on his watch that the findings of this inquiry have been hidden, even from me, the subject of the inquiry.

    For your readers who might be interested, here is a brief summary of this matter with some related Links to the material information:


    • Yes,

      The way they sent up to ten officers around to Nicky Hagars house all seemed to send a chilling message also.

      This “police action” has never been explained and apologies made for the traumatic exercise that found no wrong doing.

      Same occurred with the Kim.com mansion raid.

      So those actions must have terrified the Hagar family, as the symbol of a heavy handed storm trooper brigade similar to marching along the streets of Munich in 1933 routing out dissenters.

  4. No matter what we do or say in the present situation, it remains that the police are investigated by the police and Commisioner Bush is not interested in seeing any wrong by his subordinates. The only way I can see of improving the performance of the police is to call in a team from outside NZ and bypass Bush until these outsiders have had a chance to properly investigate, without being pressured by ‘mates’.
    The problem then, of course, is who would want to find a group of men dedicated to rooting out corruption? Not this government obviously.

  5. Mike Bush seems very defensive. Almost like a “shit, they’re on to us” defense. But, as in all things, the truth will out. I have witnessed members of the Police harassing a young female over a period of time – surprising none of it was sexual – to the point that they were turning her into a criminal.
    Incidentally, the area which this occurred, was also described by police officers in a neighbouring district, as the place they would choose to dump the body of a murder victim, as “the cops there were so useless.”

    I have no doubt there are some good cops out there. But there are plenty of bad ones, and, as has been pointed out, the overall culture of the Police stinks to high heaven.

  6. This officer should never have been made commissioner.
    His credibility and suitability was forever destroyed by his attendance and delivery of a eulogy at the funeral of Bruce Hutton, an officer found to have planted evidence that led to Arthur Allan Thomas’ imprisonment for murdering Harvey and Jeanette Crewe in 1970.
    The eulogy contained the following;
    “It’s a great tragedy and an irony that a man of such great character should have been subject to those accusations,” Mr Bush said in the eulogy.
    As with the current response to Dr Edwards, Mr Bush clearly places force (tribal?) loyalty above is oaths with respect to impartiality.

  7. ……. also how about the serious assaults (USING BASEBALL BATS AND HAMMERS) that it seems are too hard for them to investigate. I guess maybe because its only a couple of bloody Ayeshuns who were the victims.
    …… AND where city council CCTV might be useful, and that of retailers in the vicinity.
    (Turns out – by spending 10 minutes asking the retailers that they’ve never even been approached to see if there is any CCTV that might be pertinent!!!)

    Something has gone seriously wrong with our Police Force over the past 20 -30 years DESPITE giving the more and more powers and more and more aids to investigation. SERIOUSLY FUCKING WRONG!
    Part of it me thinks starts at the Police Training College – training sure as hell ain’t what it used to be.

    ….btw. I mention this because I know of 2 such assaults and even with the most basic of questioning around town, I have a pretty good idea who was responsible.

  8. Hey Martyn, I just want to say, “Thank you. Keep writing.””(Please)”
    I accidentally found Bush’s opinion the other day and got nearly a whole paragraph in before the bullshit bell in my head was ringing too loudly for me to continue.
    On the bright side, it did remind me to go and see what Dr Edwards has been writing lately.
    My big thank you to you is for taking the time to pick out all those things that made my bullshit bell ring so bloody loudly, and to put the reasons why it nearly deafened me… right there. Thank you again.

  9. I can’t say that the ‘zero tolerance’ campaign has improved my perception of the police either. If I wanted a vicious, punitive police force I’d move to Russia. Or Queensland.

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