I cannot say that I regret the news that Howard Broad is ending his tenure as Police Commissioner. Regardless of what positives he brought to the job–and I know that certain people on the Left think that he is a great guy who can do no wrong–for me he is to the NZ Police what Richard Woods was to the NZSIS: a person who allowed overtly political criteria to intrude on what should have been autonomous decision-making based on assessments of real threat and practical priorities. Just like Wood’s disgraceful behaviour in the Zaoui case, Broad was the man at the helm during the Urewera raids, raids that just happened to be timed to coincide with the final reading of the revised (and more draconian) Terrorism Suppression Act and which targeted well-know dissidents who, whatever their crazed (or intoxicated) rhetoric and antics in the bush, were as far removed from a terrorism plot as are medieval war reenactment societies. Broad is the man who has lobbied in favour of expanded (domestic) surveillance and search powers for the Police and other state agencies. Broad is the man who ran the show at a time when a culture of criminal abuse within the Police was exposed, only to preside over a corporate whitewash of the culture rather than a wipeout of it. Truth be told, Broad was handpicked for the job by the Labour leadership Â because of his ties to the party, and given the position when his Â (less compliant) predecessor committed a personal Â indiscretion that cast doubts on his professional judgement. In sum, Broad may be a nice guy in person, but under the 5th Labour government he allowed his political masters to exert too much influence on the Police as an institution, IMO.
All of which makes Pita Sharples’ tribute to Howard Broad, particularly his honoring Broad for services to the Maori community, as sickening a piece of political syncopathyÂ as has been seen in recent years. On this one, I think Hone HarewiraÂ is right: the less said the better.
Having stated my view, let me also state that I do not believe that National will do anything to diminish the politicisation of Police decision making. In fact, Key and co. could well make it worse.