Police enthusiasm for pepper-spray needs to be reviewed

Green Party Police Spokesperson Keith Locke wants the Police Commissioner to review the way his officers are using pepper spray.

“It is apparent to me that pepper spray was inappropriately used in three separate cases that have come to public attention over the past month,” Mr Locke says.

“I am pleased with Justice McGuire’s comments in the Rotorua District Court today that the Police use of pepper spray at a GE free protest in 2005 was “unreasonable”.”

The judge made his comments in reference to an incident in which an Auckland man, Simon Oosterman, was sprayed in a non-violent protest in Rotorua. Mr Oosterman was awarded $5000 by the court.

“We also learnt today that another man has recently been awarded $7500 for illegal detention in the Wellington Central Police Station in 2002, where he was needlessly pepper sprayed and as a result needed ambulance treatment,” Mr Locke says.

“There is also an ongoing Independent Police Conduct Authority investigation of the four Whakatane police officers who pepper sprayed a man in Police cells in 2006 in a manner which on video seemed excessive.

“I ask the Police Commissioner to review the circumstance under which pepper-spray is deemed appropriate by the Police.

“The over-enthusiastic use of pepper spray in the force is particularly worrying as police are currently considering whether to introduce an even more dangerous weapon, the 50,000 volt taser stun gun.”