Senior National MP Simon Bridges clashed with Police Commissioner Andy Coster this morning, accusing him of not arresting criminals.
Coster, however, did not roll over and launched a firm defence of police when pushing back on Bridges’ assertions.
The fiery exchange follows Bridges’ calling Coster a “wokester” – essentially implying he was more focused on being politically correct than catching criminals.
Bridges’ leader, Judith Collins, had attempted to rein him in yesterday by telling him to focus his criticism on Police Minister Poto Williams, not the Police Commissioner.
But that didn’t stop Bridges – the former National Party leader – from putting the boot into Coster again this morning.
“Do police still arrest criminals in New Zealand?” Bridges asked bluntly during the select committee meeting.
This question launched a blistering back-and-fourth between the pair which the committee chair was forced to intervene in a number of times.
Bridges didn’t call him a “wokester” per se, but he did say: “You know what I have said in the media”.
Coster defended the police’s record, but conceded that gang numbers were growing in New Zealand.
“We are concerned by the increase in gang violence, [in New Zealand],” he said.
However, he pushed back on any assertion that police were failing to arrest criminals.
He noted police have been putting pressure on gangs and he was stacking up a unit to combat their growth.
Bridges, however, was having none of it: “It’s like you’re speaking a different language,” he said, before adding that Coster was “playing with statistics”.
Coster pushed back strongly again, saying the police’s job was also about preventing crime.
He cited the Black Lives Matter clashes in the US and the role that the police played in those instances and compared that to how police played in those instances and compared that to how police have handled the issue here without violence.
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