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Open to Criticism

Everyone should be open to accepting criticism and fairly examining their ideas and policies, especially those who have the most power and the greatest ability to force their ideas on others. Obvious examples of this would be politicians, senior management in businesses, and police. Unfortunately these are the exact groups who often seem to be immune to criticism. Or maybe I should say they are criticised plenty but take no notice, most likely simply because of an arrogant and overinflated sense of their own importance.

Right, with that little rant (I might as well get 2015 off to a good start) out of the way, what exactly am I talking about? In this case the New Zealand police who seem to be getting increasingly out of control with each passing year. I know that our police are still a lot better than most others, but they are still pretty bad!

To be more specific still, this post relates to the result of the police’s latest holiday period anti-speeding campaign where they said they would ticket anyone doing just 4 kilometers per hour (2.5 mph) [correction: that was last year, this year it was zero tolerance] over the speed limit. I’m not sure how rigorously they pursued that (I drove at well over the speed limit at all times but was never caught) but whatever they did, it didn’t work because our holiday road toll is over twice what it was last year when a greater margin was allowed.

Of course, police became all defensive and criticised their critics for using a “tragic” situation for political purposes. Well, you know, this is a political issue and surely tragedies should be paid attention to. Surely the police can admit this just hasn’t worked and maybe they should look at other options.

I personally think it’s the same lazy, ignorant thinking I see from many people in positions of authority. They can’t be bothered (or don’t have the ability or intelligence) to figure out the real problems and solve them, so they apply an easy to manage, simplistic approach which affects the innocent more than the guilty and often doesn’t achieve what it was supposed to anyway.

When there is a low road toll the police are the first to congratulate themselves but when there is a higher one, like this year, suddenly it’s not their fault. Well they can’t have it both ways. Maybe the police commissioner should accept that the extra people who have died this year are because of his incompetence and offer his resignation now.

I’m not totally serious about that last suggestion – if only because he would just be replaced with some other bureaucrat equally bereft of original ideas anyway – but also because he’s not really to blame. Traffic deaths fluctuate over time due to simple statistical phenomena and other uncontrollable reasons. A good or bad result has probably very little to do with what the police are doing and is more to do with weather, public attitudes, the safety of modern cars, better roads, and many other factors.

But the police should acknowledge this and just admit that their silly zero tolerance nonsense should stop immediately. And no, that’s not just because I like to travel a bit faster than the speed limit, it’s because it’s the correct and honest thing to do.

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