A senior police detective has publicly criticised his
communications manager after he and another officer suffered
serious bite wounds during a violent arrest.
The detective and his colleague were allegedly bitten in a
Pirimai street at about 9.10pm on Friday by a 40-year-old
gang member suspected of the armed robbery of a bank 12 hours
Police had earlier issued a "wanted" email and file
photograph of the well-known gang member alleged to have
stormed the Kennedy Rd Kiwibank at gunpoint. It's claimed he
was carrying a pistol, demanded money from a staff member and
was handed an undisclosed sum of cash.
On Saturday the detective contacted Hawke's Bay Today,
critical of police's Eastern District communications manager
Kris McGehan for "glazing over" bite injuries he and a
colleague had received.
The long-serving officer, who wished to remain anonymous,
said Ms McGehan's report claiming the man was arrested
"without particular problems" was not true. He said he was
upset the truth was not disclosed to media or the public
after the attack.
"Both arresting officers received hospital treatment for bite
wounds inflicted by the offender," he said.
"Police [are] yet again failing to publicise or give honest
accounts of assaults on their staff.
"Whether our communications manager didn't put the right
release out or wasn't privy to the information, which would
be hard to believe, I'm not sure."
He said the gang member attempted to flee police after
stumbling across the two officers conducting an unrelated job
in the "dark, suburban" street.
"The officers and [offender] immediately identified each
other in the street ... there was a tussle and physical
altercation even after the offender had been sprayed with our
"He's quite a big built guy, it was a violent struggle and
the officers had to be backed up by other units who were
called from all across Napier before he could be formally
arrested. It wasn't a quick resolution."
Police Association president Greg O'Connor had spoken to the
injured officer and said he was "worried" about a national
trend where police communications were "reluctant" to include
officer assaults in press releases.
"Two officers needed medical assistance, that's a serious
incident," Mr O'Connor said.
He added police communications teams may be "trying to make
New Zealand seem safer" after recently two Auckland police
officer assaults also went unreported to the media.
He said the overall number of assaults on police had dropped
by about 30 per cent since 2009 but the number of serious
assaults on officers were up 30 per cent in the same period.
Ms McGehan said she "didn't know anything" about the assaults
and "wasn't told" before notifying media of the arrest.
"I believe those facts would have come to light later in the
evening," she said.
The detective involved may have spoken only as a result of a
"brain fart", she said.
Police also arrested a 22-year-old man, believed to involved
in the robbery on Friday. No weapon had been recovered.
The gang member was to appear in the Napier District Court
- Sam Hurley of Hawke's Bay Today