Police are now being told to stay at community checkpoints even if an emergency occurs nearby, unnecessarily tying up valuable police resources, Northland MP Matt King says.
“Recently a police officer was manning a community checkpoint on SH1 north of Houhora but was called away to attend a mental health emergency. During that time an essential worker was stopped from driving through the checkpoint.
“Now new direction has come from the Police leadership in Northland. Police are to be present at all community checkpoints, regardless of whether they are planned or spontaneous, and they are not to leave even if an emergency occurs nearby.
“This is an operational nightmare. In many places in Northland one officer looks after a large area. Sometimes police need to attend multiple emergencies a day, but instead of being able to attend those urgent emergencies police officers are now required to stay at community checkpoints.
“In last week’s case, that would mean the police officer at the community checkpoint north of Houhora would not have been able to attend that mental health emergency, which I would argue attending that was far more important than manning a community checkpoint.
“Community checkpoints are only tying up Police resources as more and more pop up. It is the Police’s job to decide if a checkpoint is needed or not, and it’s their job to ensure New Zealanders are following the rules. It’s not up to the public. This is why we have a police force.
“It’s also clear from the example last week where those at the checkpoint stopped an essential worker from continuing travel, that these community checkpoints are not operating in an ‘educational’ way as they have claimed to be.
“Police need to stop all community checkpoints, and if any are to remain, they should be solely staffed by Police, not the public.”