Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Taking responsibility

The Independent Police Conduct Authority released a critical report into a 2010 chase by police officers yesterday. But not everyone is critical; the Herald reports:

A motorcyclist who suffered life-threatening brain injuries after he crashed during a police pursuit says officers are not to blame - despite a highly critical report.
Dion Batt was chased by police after he was seen riding at more than 100 km/h in a 50km/h zone.
Mr Batt, who had methamphetamine in his system, crashed into a traffic island in Don Buck Rd, Massey, and was hurt so badly he wasn't expected to survive.
Yesterday, the Independent Police Conduct Authority released a report on the 25-minute pursuit in March 2010. It said the chase "lacked adequate command and control and was plagued with communication issues and breaches of policy".
At least 11 patrol cars and the police helicopter were "unnecessarily" pursuing Mr Batt at up to 122km/h. The review found multiple issues, including cars deployed by three different dispatchers and a roadblock set up without authority.
Mr Batt, who now lives with his parents in Raglan, said yesterday that he did not want to speak about the incident other than to say he placed no blame on police for the outcome.
"No one else was to blame. It was my fault," Mr Batt said through his mother, Sharon, because his injuries meant he couldn't be interviewed.
"I realise there was fault on [the police's] part," Mrs Batt said, "but I still as a mother ... put the fault squarely on Dion's shoulders because everything starts from somewhere and that's where it started."
When the incident happened, Mr Batt, a father of three, was living two lives, she said. "There's one of the happy family man and one of the man addicted to methamphetamine."

How refreshing it is to see someone taking responsibility for their own offending and predicament. We live in an era where a biased news media paints the police as the villians when they chase runaway crims, and when it ends in tears the runaways are painted as victims. 

Policing these days is a no-win occupation, especially when they try to catch someone who flees. If they back off, a criminal gets away to offend again. But if they chase someone and the chase comes to an abrupt end, they get put through the wringer both by the IPCA and in the Court of Public Opinion. The offenders however receive little scrutiny.

So kudos to Dion Batt and to his mother. He made a dreadful mistake whilst high on P, and the consequences of that mistake will be with him forever. He is not playing the victim card however. We're picking that's not the answer that the Herald reporter wanted to hear, but it is the right answer. 

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