Should Police Officers Be Able To Become Councillors?

This hardy-annual question has come up again, with a report to Parliament from a Select Committee recommending that they shouldn’t. The MP with most to say on this seems to be NZ First’s Ron Mark, who used to live in the Waimakariri Electorate.

The argument seems to be around the view that those who enforce the law shouldn’t be in the position of making the law. This is one reason why serving police officers (like all other state servants), cannot be MPs.  Note, however, that any wage or salary earner has, in practical terms, to give up his or her job to become an MP – no-one would have time to do the two jobs.

Councillors are in a different position to MPs.  While there are by-laws, they come up on Council agendas very rarely.  When it does happen, it is an easy matter for a councillor to declare a conflict of interest and take themselves out of the discussion and voting.  In Waimakakariri’s case, Cr Robbie Brine (in his other life, a Senior Constable) is meticulous in doing this.

Robbie is a Waimakariri District Councillor and the Rangiora Community Constable.  It seems to me that being involved in the community as a councillor adds to his police role  and vice versa. 

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