6 May 2011

Police support officers criticised over pursuits

10:13 pm on 6 May 2011

Police are supporting officers heavily criticised in two Independent Police Conduct Authority reports into pursuits, one of which ended in death.

The watchdog has determined the death of Chase Neary in Picton was caused by a combination of speed, the distraction of trying to evade police, faulty brakes, unfamiliarity with the road and inexperience with the motorcycle he was riding.

The IPCA says that, though the officer involved was justified in beginning the chase, his classification which allowed him to take part in pursuits had lapsed and the speed he reached was undesirable.

In the second incident, in which three teenagers in a stolen car were seriously injured after crashing into a tree in Auckland, the officers were asked by the pursuit controller to abandon the chase, but kept following at a reduced speed.

The IPCA has recommended the officers involved be the subject of disciplinary, training or other remedial action.

Tasman District Commander Superintendent Gary Knowles says Mr Neary's driving ability was never in question and he has since renewed his driver classification. Mr Knowles says the officer was carrying out his duty to protect the public.

Auckland area commander George Fraser says he has taken on board the authority's recommendation to provide staff with additional training, but adds that an unlicensed, inexperienced driver in a speeding stolen car was a recipe for disaster.