Michael Blowers fought to keep his identity secret after
his arrest on the grounds that publishing his name would
cause "extreme hardship" to his family and in his current
job. Photo / One News
The detective who blew the whistle on his alleged
drug-dealing boss was removed from his squad and investigated
before senior police took his concerns seriously.
Michael David Blowers, a former detective sergeant, was later
charged with supplying methamphetamine and selling cannabis
while in charge of the organised crime unit in Northland.
When Blowers' identity was made public, Northland's top
officer said the probe which led to the prosecution began
after a concerned member of staff came forward.
But the Weekend Herald can reveal the officer was
removed from Blowers' organised crime squad and put under
strict supervision after he gave senior police management a
report on his boss' movements.
Disappointed colleagues say the disciplinary action
undermines police attempts to encourage a culture where
inappropriate conduct is reported to management without fear
The detective became suspicious of Blowers' behaviour and
tailed his visits to the home of a Whangarei woman before
handing a dossier - which included covert photographs - to
senior CIB management.
But instead of immediately probing Blowers' movements, police
management removed the whistleblower from the organised crime
squad and placed him under strict supervision.
He was also subjected to an internal code of conduct inquiry
which centred on his use of the National Intelligence
Application computer system, which is supposed to be used
only on official police business.
Several weeks passed until the detective was cleared of any
breaches and attention later switched to Blowers, who became
the subject of an internal inquiry.
This was elevated to a criminal inquiry when the woman he was
visiting told police he gave her methamphetamine and cannabis
taken from the police exhibit locker between June 2011 and
He was arrested in April and has denied the charges. At the
time, Superintendent Russell Le Prou, the Northland district
commander, said the inquiry started when a member of staff
came forward with concerns. A source within the Northland
police took exception to the statement.
"It's absolute bull****. [Northland CIB] looked at this
detective really hard before deciding to look into [the
allegations against] Blowers. It was being swept under the
carpet until common sense prevailed."
In a statement to the Weekend Herald, Mr Le Prou said he
could not comment on the treatment of the whistleblower as
"internal employment matters" were private between employer
"As I have stated before, a member of police did have the
courage to come forward with concerns about a colleague.
These concerns led to an investigation and resulted in some
serious charges being laid.
"Northland staff can have confidence that if they do come
forward it will be treated seriously."
But the revelations will damage police efforts to build a
culture where inappropriate conduct is reported.
Just 58 per cent of Northland police staff are confident they
can raise concerns about colleagues without fear of reprisal
- 10 per cent lower than the national average - according to
a recent workplace survey.
Blowers was a veteran officer with 20 years' experience, with
particular expertise in battling the drug trade, and resigned
two weeks before his arrest.
He fought to keep his identity secret after his arrest on the
grounds that publishing his name would cause "extreme
hardship" to his family and in his current job.
Name suppression was lifted last month after a High Court
judge said the public interest was "perhaps stronger than
usual" because of Blowers' occupation at the time and the
nature and circumstances of the charges.
"Moreover, that interest cannot be dismissed as merely
prurient; the public has a legitimate right to know about
matters potentially impinging on the integrity and proper
functioning of our law enforcement agencies and their
officers," said Justice Rebecca Ellis.
Blowers has pleaded not guilty and will appear in the High
Court at Whangarei again next month.
- Jared Savage of NZ Herald