AOS commander’s driving at 158km/h unjustified, police watchdog finds

An Armed Offenders Squad commander who was caught driving at more than 150km/h was unjustified in doing so, the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) has found.

On January 19 last year, the commander, Officer B, was on their way to Nelson from Blenheim for a planned search warrant in Motueka when they were clocked driving at 158km/h.

The lights and sirens in the vehicle were switched on.

When asked, Officer B said the speed was justified as he was “urgent duty driving”.

The search warrant was based on police receiving credible information about a man, Mr X, concerning his recent violence, access to methamphetamine and possession of a semi-automatic shotgun.

The IPCA found Officer B was not justified in using urgent duty driving to travel between
Blenheim and Nelson.

Other AOS officers also drove to Nelson at a maximum speed of between 120-130 km/h.

“Additionally, he did not provide the other AOS officers with enough information about the urgency of the matter to allow them to make their own assessments about whether they needed to travel to Nelson above the speed limit.”

He did not immediately notify the AOS officers that it was likely they would be required
later that day.

At 11am, he paged members of the AOS team with a “222” code, advising that all officers
were required at a briefing in Nelson at 1.30pm and should be “ready to go”.

“At the earliest opportunity, Officer B should have notified the AOS team of the pending briefing while the search warrant was being obtained.”

A Police investigation was conducted and decided that Officer B would not be charged with any speeding offence.

An IPCA investigation was launched with the results made public on Tuesday.

“Much of the AOS Commander’s assessment was based on assumption and speculation.There was very little evidence of any immediate, serious risk,” it found.

Police have accepted the findings by the IPCA.

Tasman District Commander Superintendent Mike Johnson said: “The Police investigation found the threshold for any prosecution was not met. An employment investigation was undertaken, and as with all employment matters conducted by Police these are confidential as are any resulting actions.”

“We are always seeking to consider all matters we are involved in carefully with regards to the safety of our people and the communities we serve every day.”

Police policy enables officers to travel above the speed limit in certain circumstances, including when responding to a critical incident, he said.

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