Former police officer speaks out
Former Tokoroa Police officer and former South Waikato District councillor Dean Ria has commended David White and the Teokotai family for their courage and perseverance.
This comes in the wake of a South Waikato News article on three Tokoroa Police officers criticised in an Independent Police Conduct Authority report.
The report was in relation to the 2005 arson and alleged fraud at St Luke’s Tamariki and Mokopuna Apii Punanga.
Tokoroa JP Mii Teokotai was unlawfully arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit arson. The charges were dropped when police could not offer any evidence. South Waikato News approached Mr Ria who was present at a number of Mrs Teokotai’s court hearings and he said he was disappointed the matter developed the way it did.
‘‘ I believe the police did not investigate this matter thoroughly because if they had no charges would have ever been laid. This is substantiated by the fact the police did not offer a shred of evidence at the depositions hearing.’’
Mr Ria knows his speaking out will inevitably cost him some relationships within the force but he feels it is the right thing to do.
‘‘ The big issue here is the ongoing police inability to acknowledge that this investigation and the subsequent complaint file were inherently flawed and handled poorly.
‘‘We all make mistakes and had the police done the right thing and acknowledged this at an early stage then this matter would not have escalated to where it is now – a scathing report, negative nationwide media and the potential for the New Zealand Police to be sued and all officers involved summonsed to appear in the High Court.
‘‘There is an object lesson here for all of us – if you make a mistake, front up, acknowledge it and sort it out early.’’