Coppers Defend Rental For Traffic Control
in New Zealand are up in arms about the use of an airplane by
police for traffic control, forcing the cops to defend the practice
in the New Zealand Herald.
The police used the plane to observe and identify dangerous
drivers before the Saturday, March 12, "Super 12" rugby match
between Blenheim and Nelson. As it happens, they didn't catch any
speeders with the plane, but they did bag two of those
passive-aggressive types who like to get in front of a long line of
cars and then drive slowly.
Tasman District Highway Patrol team leader Eric Davy explained
to the Herald why the cops take this offense as seriously as
speeding. "It leads to people acting stupidly to get past them.
They will overtake them when it's imprudent to do so, and that's
why you have head-on crashes."
The New Zealand police, like police everywhere, have both
public-safety and criminal-apprehension duties. Some of them
enforce the nation's 100-km/h (62 mph) speed limit and other road
laws, while others deal with violent crime, drugs, or
missing-persons cases. Unlike most North American police officers,
New Zealand's normally go unarmed; a special unit deals with the
handful of armed and violent criminals.
Traffic is a growing problem on the temperate, mountainous
island nation, and the police are trying to use modern methods,
especially during peak periods and special events like the Super 12
Despite Davy's sensible defense of the practice, the Herald's
tone indicates that the writer doesn't approve of squandering
public funds on these newfangled flying machines.
How much did the cops spend on this extravagance? Well, the
plane rents for NZ $220 an hour -- and they used it for an hour and
a half. $330. The two fines are $150 each, so the New Zealand
public is out NZ $30. In US terms that would be, according to NZ
government statistics, $22.28. (The rate friday was US $0.74.28 =
The police are unrepentant; they plan to hire the plane again
for the Easter holiday. Even if it sets the country back another