Constable Perry Griffin, Kawhia s sole-charge policeman, who was injured in an attack in early January.
Constable Perry Griffin, Kawhia's sole-charge policeman, who was injured in an attack in early January.

Since around 2007, police have been wearing stab-proof vests largely resistant to knife attacks, dog bites, and so on. Our strict gun controls are to thank for this, otherwise our cops would be required to don something far heavier.

We don’t live in a Judge Dredd-style society (thankfully) where The Fuzz are given wide-ranging powers to kill or incarcerate who they like; let’s not forget that the role of the police is to investigate breaches of the law, and make sure offenders are bought before the courts. .

Throat-clearing aside, the brouhaha courting headlines since the weekend is of such little importance one wonders why we’re even hearing about it to begin with.

For background: Constable Perry Griffin – sole charge cop in a town called Kawhia – was assaulted by five men who took exception to their mate being under arrest and threatened with a taser, pepper spray, and a handgun.

This is two-line-copy content here. It’s a sad and regrettable story destined for the court archives and little more, but the ever-opportunistic Labour Party has jumped on it.

They claim police officers are facing staff shortages and pay freezes – the real reason why Griffen had to be rescued by the local volunteer fire brigade rather than a fellow buddy in blue.

There’s a point here, and a reasonable one at that.

What comes next, though, is far above and beyond good taste: the Police Association insisting that all cops in the country be armed at all times.

I think this says something about the police union’s self esteem when it comes to encountering violent people under arrest for whatever reason. Between a baton, pepper-spray, a taser, and some kind of firearm kept in the patrol car, what could they possibly face (aside from being a lone policeman in a small town) that could lead to such a demand?

It’s yet another case of bizarre political point scoring after a very small, very human incident.

And besides, is anyone genuinely considering such a draconian measure? I can guarantee that putting a 9mm in the hands of the everyday beat cop would lead to far more offenders being shot and killed than immobilized and restrained with pepper spray or a taser.

As for Fairfax and their selective publication of photos of the incident? Well, I’m hesitant to hand over the judge’s gavel to a witness who claimed that the lone officer in Kawhia was the aggressor, let alone a witness related to the chap on the receiving end of Griffen’s cuffs.

But I still wouldn’t go so far as to label their report as rampant sensationalism, as the pictures accompanying the article seem to line up with both the police, and witness accounts.

I’ll admit, it’s an attention-grabbing headline – LONE COP BASHED BY MOB – but nothing more.

It’s certainly not a tale of systemic issues in how small communities are policed, nor a dramatic indictment of a constable’s protection while walking the beat, and it’s certainly not a contentious allegation of a police cover-up, however slight.

So let’s read this for what it is: a tragic attack by a mob on a police officer. If police investigative prowess is half as good as we’re told, then these thugs and dilettantes will be pulled before a court and will get what’s coming to them.

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