The Police have now admitted that it was a police shot that killed innocent courier driver Halatau Naitoko on Auckland’s North-western motorway. My most sincere condolences to Halatau’s friends and family.
As Irish Bill points out at the The Standard, this incident has nothing to do with party political policy. But it does seriously call into question Police operational policy.
I have often had concerns about how Police respond incidents of dangerous driving. It seems to me that the best response to dangerous driving is to get a helicopter in the air and track where the driver goes. Eventually, he or she will stop, and a Police contingent can then be sent in to arrest him or her. Police chases at high speed are likely to exacerbate the situation, and provoke the offending driver into taking increasingly excessive risks.
The incident yesterday that led to a Police officer fatally shooting the innocent Halatau Naitoko started with a simple bag snatch. This is hardly the crime of the century, but I acknowledge it probably justified an initial Police pursuit.
But once the offender’s driving became dangerous and he presented and discharged a firearm, the Police were in a totally different league. I would have thought that, rather than put public safety at risk, the best response would be to abandon the pursuit, let the driver stop at his eventual destination, and then move in (with armed Police, given the offender’s use of a firearm) to arrest him once he was off the road.
Sadly, it seems that the Police pursuit and armed response to this particular offender, over what started out as a relatively minor offence, cost the life of the innocent Halatau Naitoko and put the lives and safety of many other commuters on Auckland’s roads at risk.
It is time for the Police to rethink their response tactics in instances like this – too many lives (usually those of offenders, but in this case, that of an innocent courier driver going about his business) have been lost as a result of the Police adopting a “pursue at all costs” response.