Right Thinking: Unacceptable police behaviour

frankConservative columnist Dr Frank Shizenhausen comments on Dr Jarrod Gilbert’s problems with police

Academic Dr Jarrod Gilbert has written a piece in the New Zealand Herald complaining about the conduct of our police force. He describes how when he obtained a copy of the police file on him, 17 of the report’s 20 pages had been completely blacked out. He also describes how police often refuse to provide data to academics with perceived associations with criminals, and how data is often only released on strict conditions, including a right to vet material that depicts police in a bad light.

This sort of thing is of course completely unacceptable in any decent society. What kind of country do these people think we are living in? I am outraged at the conduct of these law enforcement officials.

It simply defies belief that our police would hand any information over to this disgusting person.

Remember, this is a man who has spent much of his academic career studying criminals. He even wrote a book about the New Zealand gang culture. I don’t have the faintest idea why he did this. Perhaps he hoped to gain a better understanding of why people join gangs. Maybe he thought his research would increase the sum total of human knowledge on criminal behaviour. But I find it hard to believe that anything good can come out of research. Research leads to evidence-based policy, and once you have governments implementing evidence-based policy, you’re only a short jackboot step away from socialist tyranny.

So what were the police thinking? Couldn’t they have dealt with this problem in a more sensible manner, rather than have it blow up all over the newspapers? Why wasn’t Dr Gilbert simply arrested in the middle of the night and dragged to a secret detention centre? I’m sure that with the right amount of handling he would have confessed to any number of crimes. Like the Crewe murders, for example. Their last attempt to fit someone up for those crimes may have failed, but that doesn’t mean they should just give up. If at first you don’t succeed, etcetera.

Had police headquarters acted with more foresight, they could have avoided this entire situation. The public need to have faith in the officers sworn to protect them, and in the institution those officers belong to. But police work is difficult and dangerous, and we need to let them get on with what they do best, free from all scrutiny and oversight.

But now a bunch of people are asking who polices the police, perhaps in the hope that a whole army of pen-pushers will be appointed to enlarge the power of our already-bloated bureaucracy. But we don’t need anyone new to police the police. The police are the police, therefore if anyone is going to police the police then by definition those policers will themselves be a police force. Therefore, let the police police themselves, since they are already the police. Wouldn’t it just save the taxpayer a lot of money? And who better to do a bit of policing than a policeman?

It bewilders me that we have information laws in this country that empower aggressive left-wingers with axes to grind. Remember, this Dr Gilbert is an academic. He works at a University. I can’t say whether or not he resides in an actual ivory tower, especially now that the do-gooders have made it so much harder to import elephant tusks and other products derived from critically endangered animals that are fun to kill. But one thing we can say for sure is that academics can’t be trusted to arrive at the truth on any matter. Look at the way they have twisted the whole climate change debate. It used to be that whenever the Earth warmed we would say “at last summer has arrived!” and we would enjoy pleasant days at the beach or by the pool. But these academic types would have us believe that global warming is a bad thing. These experts would like nothing better than to take yet another simple pleasure away from us, having already told us that cigarettes cause cancer, drinking is bad for us, and that the keeping of slaves to work the fields of my North Waikato farm is a gross violation of their human rights.

Dr Gilbert’s claim that he has some special wisdom to impart on the subject of gangs, because he has mixed and mingled with members of these organisations, is ludicrous. I too have consorted with rogues, liars, criminals and scumbags, but I don’t flaunt my ACT Party affiliations in order to sell books.

Like most people I’ve had the odd encounter with the police. But whatever misgivings I may have about the decision by police bigwigs to release information to people like Dr Gilbert, when they should be throwing them in jail for some offence or other that ought to be on the statute books in order to deal with people I dislike, I have always been treated fairly and reasonably by cops working the beat. I may not have enjoyed the time I once spent in a police cell, the result of a bit of youthful exuberance that went badly wrong. But the officers who arrested me that day behaved at all times with utter professionalism. The sentencing judge was highly complimentary of them, praising them for their skill and courage. “The officers who took this monster down showed admirable skill and bravery,” he said. “But for their quick actions, this deranged and unhinged man may have stabbed even more people.” The lesson for me is to be much better prepared next time.

So let’s have no more sympathy for this troublesome academic. Why does it even matter that he can’t always access reliable data? I sit on the boards of a number of policy think-tanks, including the Centre for Research and Policy, the Climate Change Denial Coalition, and the Foundation for the Promotion of White Supremacy, and we have never let a complete lack of credible data put a stop to any of our activities.