Don’t judge us on bad apples: top cop

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Queenstown’s new top cop says there’s a few bad apples in any organisation, after a series of ‘misconduct’ cases.

Inspector Olaf Jensen was confirmed as area commander of the renamed Otago Lakes-Central policing district in January.

He’s based out of the Queenstown downtown station and is overseeing a restructure of the force - which includes adding a second senior sergeant to the roster.

But the first few months of his reign, and more than a year as relieving area commander, has seen him fighting fires.

Policing standards have come under fire and several officers were before the courts on various charges.

They include: 

  • Queenstown constable Jenny McNee guilty of racially insulting a taxi driver while off-duty, November 2013. She resigned from the force.
  • A Central Otago police officer who filmed a teenager in the shower using a police-issue iPhone, October 2014. He was sentenced to supervision, community work, and granted final name suppression. He resigned from the force in December.
  • Two Central Otago constables accused of unprofessional conduct and allegedly harassing two teenagers in July. There was no formal investigation. Both officers resigned from the force.
  • A Central Otago officer charged with assault in December after an investigation into excessive force at the local police station. Case ongoing.

In Queenstown’s court in October, a defence lawyer labelled the police investigation into his client’s dangerous driving charge as a “shambles”.

There were no notebook entries, no job sheets, and CCTV footage was deleted, leading to reduced charges.

Jensen ordered a review.

Central Otago mayor Tony Lepper said in December cases had eroded the community’s respect for the region’s police and they’d have to work hard to rebuild confidence.

Jensen says: “As in any policing environment and in any organisation, a few of our staff occasionally don’t make the right decisions or uphold our policing values.

“When this occurs we do our best to hold them to account.

“We’ve got to remember that there is a lot of excellent work being done daily by Otago Lakes-Central staff to keep the local community safe.”

Jensen says significant reductions in crime are testament to his staff’s hard work.

“The majority of our staff are very committed and focused on working to prevent and reduce crime in their community.”

Asked whether he’s forewarned other officers over expected conduct standards, he says: “We always have high expectations of our staff in relation to their behaviour and values and where appropriate hold them to account.”

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz