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Strike Force Raptor is no more

Written By: - Date published: 12:20 pm, June 11th, 2020 - 10 comments
Categories: australian politics, crime, national, police, same old national, todd muller, uncategorized - Tags:

Just over six months ago National released its Law and Order policy discussion document.  This was meant to kick start a discussion on laura norda that was one of the policies that would would propel National to victory this year.  Of the paper National said this:

National is committed to making New Zealand the safest country in the world. We have the experience, ideas and track record needed to make this a reality. This document will give you a feel for where are headed next year…

National is the Party of Law and Order. We will deliver a strong, clear plan to make New Zealand a safer place to raise your children, enjoy your retirement or pursue your dreams.

The most intriguing policy proposal was to emulate what the New South Wales Police was doing.  Harass supposed gang members basically for kicks and law and order kudos.

When the policy was released I said this:

One of the most talked about matters in National’s Law and Order Discussion Document is the proposal to set up a New Zealand equivalent of Australia’s Strike Force Raptor Police Unit, designed to make life as difficult as possible for gang members.

What was the evidential basis behind this policy proposal?  Bridges was asked and told Radio New Zealand this:

Mr Bridges promised the party would release figures “in the next little while” which would prove the unit’s effectiveness.

“We are at this moment, in fact, talking to the government in New South Wales to compile the data.”

Announcing the proposal and then compiling the data in support.  That is a novel way to develop policy.

And the policy has been panned. And not just by namby pamby soft on crime lefties. Again from Radio New Zealand:

National leader Simon Bridges repeatedly described the unit as “devastatingly effective” and referenced media reports which claimed it was driving outlaw bikies into extinction.

But former NSW detective Mike Kennedy told RNZ that was “nonsense” and Mr Bridges was “living a dream” if he believed that.

“He needs to pull his head out of whatever it’s stuck in because … [gangs] exist. They’re always going to exist. They just go underground.

“I’m not a bleeding heart liberal,” he said. “But [the zero-tolerance strategy has] just been a disaster.”

Dr Kennedy spent much of his time with the police as an undercover officer working in organised crime and is now a senior lecturer at Western Sydney University.

He said there was no evidence to suggest that gang numbers had fallen dramatically since the formation of Strike Force Raptor a decade ago.

“Outlaw motorcycle gangs are unregulated, so how would you know?” he said. “They’re not required to pay a fee … and register with government. So any suggestion that the numbers are down is just nonsense.

Six months later and no sign of the data showing how effective the Australian squad has been.  And it looks like National is quietly walking away from the policy.  From Craig McCulloch at Radio New Zealand:

National is distancing itself from its controversial Strike Force Raptor proposal, saying it would not direct the police to set up such a unit if elected.

The Opposition party made headlines in November when it proposed an elite police squad be formed to target and harass gang members, taking a zero tolerance approach to all offences, no matter how minor.

Then-leader Simon Bridges strongly endorsed the idea – which was modelled on a unit in New South Wales – calling it “devastatingly effective”, but criminologists and former detectives said the plan had not worked in Australia.

RNZ understands some National MPs were uncomfortable with the proposal at the time, fearing it could unfairly target Māori.

Asked whether new leader Todd Muller would advocate for the Strike Force Raptor proposal, a party spokesperson told RNZ all policies were under review.

“Any changes or new policies will be announced in the coming weeks.”

But, speaking to RNZ on Wednesday night, National police spokesperson Brett Hudson confirmed the party, if elected, would not direct the police to set up a specialist unit akin to Strike Force Raptor.

“I wouldn’t step too far over the line to be seen to be directing police on how they deal with their operational procedures and models. The police commissioner has that responsibility.”

Asked whether National would abandon the idea altogether, Hudson sought to distance himself from the proposal.

“It’s not really about whether you have a specialised unit. It certainly isn’t about a name,” Hudson said.

“I’m not sure that it was ever envisaged that we would have a unit that would be called [Strike Force Raptor] or anything similar to that.”

A media release issued by Hudson on 26 November was titled: “Strike Force Raptor Unit proposed to tackle gangs”.

We are a hundred days from the election and that whirring noise you can hear is National throwing its policy formulation into reverse.

What gives?  The caucus is the same and the policy document presumably had full support from everyone.  It was part of the vaunted roll out of policy so the sudden U turn is jarring.

And to not have policy ready now suggests a degree of desperation and disorganisation that is not typically National.

But at least one of National’s nuttier proposals has been ditched.  Although there was little chance of them being able to enact.  Thankfully …

10 comments on “Strike Force Raptor is no more ”

  1. gsays 1

    Who, in the police, took the decision to fund, establish and arm these units?

    It must have been someone fairly high up the chain.

    I doubt we will ever get to hear about that, which reinforces Celia Lashlie's idea that the individual (e.g. mum raising kids by herself) is held accountable for every action or inaction. Meanwhile the 'authorities' – social workers, police, WINZ staff etc are untouchable despite their short comings.

  2. You_Fool 2

    What gives?

    Simple answer… Black Lives Matter has intensified again, and National couldn't see enough racist whitenecks to get them into power. It makes me feel a little happy that a party of such blatant racist dog-whistling doesn't see any value in pushing such a racist policy…. NZ must be getting better…

  3. observer 3

    This is worth highlighting:

    “It’s not really about whether you have a specialised unit. It certainly isn’t about a name,” Hudson said.

    “I’m not sure that it was ever envisaged that we would have a unit that would be called [Strike Force Raptor] or anything similar to that.”

    A media release issued by Hudson on 26 November was titled: “Strike Force Raptor Unit proposed to tackle gangs”.

    I like to be generous so let's call this incompetence. They really don't remember what they were saying only 7 months ago.

    Lying about it would be even more incompetent.

  4. Chris T 4

    When did the actual trial happen?

    Edit: Actually ignore that.

    I am just getting confused between Raptor, The Armed dudes that just got canceled and our standard armed response team.

    My fault

  5. Corey Humm 5

    Good , It's a horrible idea and would just escalate to open warfare.

    However, with the Aussie gangs coming to NZ , gang culture is going to be a massive worry, I don't know what the answer is but militarizing the police ain't it.

    I still think the normalization and massive pr campaign to make crack dealers look like lovely people just cos they make sandwiches is gross and alarming and anyone who supports it clearly grew up in a lovely neighborhood.

  6. This isn't the time to be pushing a drug-war fantasy of police units as militarised predators, for sure.

    What I don't get is how people as tone-deaf as National managed to figure that out. Bridges would be doubling down and calling it Alpha Eagle Manly Strike Force Raptor by now – maybe this is the Hooton effect?

  7. Maurice 7

    The recent selection of Andrew Coster as Police Commissioner has jumped (or dumped) two generations of the hierarchy. One of the previously touted presumptives has retired.

    Many more present Police over the age of forty will see the writing on the wall – they are no longer wanted. Watch for many more "retirements" and a vast loss of institutional knowledge … this has happened before when those over fifty were removed in the 1980's

    This is what will come into place after the 'new' normal.

  8. Incognito 8

    Is this the start of National’s bonfire of policies bullet points slogans? I’m starting to warm to it and I look forward to more policy denouncements over the next 100 days.

  9. vto 9

    ha ha, useless conservatives… always lagging behind the people…

    watch as the nationalconservative party steadily changes its policies to more align with the changing politics of new zealanders i.e. jacinda

    national eh… always the followers… never ever the leaders. they really are quite useless

    meme ca plus

  10. Morrissey 10

    Good riddance.

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