Pubdate: Mon, 11 Mar 2002
Source: Otago Daily Times (New Zealand)
Copyright: Allied Press Limited, 2002
Author: Jason Baker-Sherman
Note: Abridged. by ODT Ed.



POLICE ASSOCIATION president Greg O'Connor's arrogant comments in 
"Judgement `will not affect' police" ( ODT 18.2.02) suggest that the 
actions of police officers are not governed by their commanders or even the 

Last year, the government inquiry into cannabis use was told by New Zealand 
Police that they no longer targeted cannabis users, and MP Damian O'Connor, 
Greg's brother, made the same claim several times when the inquiry was in 
Dunedin. The arrest of Norml president Chris Fowlie for possessing 0.7g of 
cannabis, however, proves otherwise. The court was told police officers 
asked to search him simply because he looked at them. When he refused, they 
falsely claimed to smell cannabis to justify searching him under the Misuse 
of Drugs Act and also neglected to do the requisite paperwork. Following Mr 
Fowlie's acquittal, a police spokesperson said that they would respect the 
judge's decision and re-evaluate their search procedures but a defiant 
Police Association president stated that "it [the verdict] doesn't change 
anything at all". The reasons for this defiance are simple: Greg O'Connor 
has previously admitted that misusing the Misuse of Drugs Act allows police 
officers to conduct searches arbitrarily. Arresting cannabis users creates 
the illusion that police are fighting crime while harder problems such as 
gangs are not addressed. Similarly, during police "sweeps" of "trouble 
spots", it is easier to arrest cannabis users than deal with the abusive, 
destructive, vomiting, urinating drunks that plague our country.

Jason Baker-Sherman


[Abridged. - Ed.]
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