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Rotorua Police pursuit complied with policy – IPCA finds

11 June 2015 - In a report released today the Independent Police Conduct Authority found that Rotorua Police officers involved in a pursuit, in order to apprehend three dangerous and threatening men, followed Police policy and were justified in their actions.

On 26 May 2014 Police received a call from a member of the public who reported three men acting suspiciously in a Mazda MPV. This vehicle matched that of a car that was reported stolen two days prior following two aggravated robberies. Police suspected the three occupants of the stolen car were those who had committed the robberies in the days before. 

Police located the vehicle in Ngongotaha and signalled the driver to stop. When the driver failed to do so Police began pursuing the Mazda. During the pursuit the driver of the Mazda drove through red lights, overtook other cars and drove for short periods on the wrong side of the road. At one stage the pursuit was abandoned due to the high level of risk, but was recommenced a short time later when the risk had reduced. The car finally came to a stop 21 minutes after the initial pursuit began, when the driver swerved to avoid a car and hit a traffic pole. No one was injured as a result of the crash and damage to the vehicle was minor. Following the incident two of the three offenders fled into nearby bush and were tracked by Police dog and subsequently apprehended. All three offenders were arrested following the incident.

The pursuit covered a distance of 10.8 kilometres and involved several Police officers.

In releasing today’s report Independent Police Conduct Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers, said that Police were justified in commencing the pursuit and in the circumstances their speed and manner of driving during the pursuit complied with Police policy.

“At the time of the pursuit traffic volume was low, the speed of the pursuit was relatively low and there were very few pedestrians. Throughout the pursuit Police balanced the risks of continuing the pursuit with the need to apprehend the dangerous offenders.

“The lead pursuit officers both undertook thorough and continuous risk assessments in relation to the manner of driving and the Authority has found that given the very serious offending involved the officers driving did not present an unjustified risk,” Sir David said.

As highlighted in previous reports the Authority notes that its ongoing work with Police on the improvement of policies connected with the pursuit of fleeing drivers is now well advanced.

“The Authority also found that following the pursuit the use of the Police dog to track the two offenders who fled the scene was justified, and was the only realistic tactical option available,” Sir David said.

As a result of this incident all three men aged 16, 17 and 18 were charged with offences relating to the events of 24-26 May 2014.

 

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