Sunday, April 14, 2024

IPCA finds officer breached health order

NZ Police today acknowledged the findings by the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA), which found that an officer breached the COVID-19 Health Order by taking a group of people across the then-borders in a Police vehicle to attend a tangi.

The incident occurred in September 2021 whilst Auckland was in Alert Level Four and the rest of the country in Alert Level Three due to the community transmission of the Delta Variant.

Police acknowledge the findings of the report and that the officer also attempted to facilitate another group’s movements across the border.

Deputy Commissioner Chris de Wattignar says the officer involved was working for no personal gain to himself and out of empathy for a grieving whānau. However, his actions were a breach of the Health Order.

“Police dealt with millions of vehicle movements, along with thousands of people, successfully, during the period the Auckland border checkpoints were in operation. It was a demanding and challenging period for Police staff who were called upon to make tough decisions every day,” said Deputy Commissioner Chris de Wattignar.

“We acknowledge the officer did not make the right decision on this occasion, but this should be viewed in light of the hundreds of Police officers who worked hard to ensure compliance with the Health Order in place at the time.”

The Health Order was clear that it applied to all New Zealanders and that any exemptions for movement through the checkpoints needed to be solely granted by the Ministry of Health.

“It was not for Police to use its discretion in this situation. Police self-referred these matters to the Independent Police Conduct Authority and began an employment investigation,” Deputy Commissioner de Wattignar said.

“A criminal investigation was carried out by Police and while we found that the officer acted in contravention of the Act, it was deemed not in the public interest to prosecute.”

An employment investigation was initiated but not concluded as the officer resigned during the process.

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