Intoxicated New Zealand policeman keeps job

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Mokau, Taranaki, New Zealand policeman, Constable Jonathon "Jono" Erwood has been discharged without conviction by a judge at the New Plymouth District Court and has been allowed to keep his job after he arrived intoxicated at a car crash scene. He was tested for drunk driving and found to be over the legal limit.

Constable Erwood, however, has been reprimanded following an official police enquiry. The reprimand notice will stay on his personal file for seven years if he receives further disciplinary charges then the reprimand will be taken into account. Nine previous complaints were investigated but disciplinary action was not taken. However there was considerable local support for him as well.

When Constable Erwood arrived at the double fatality July 9, 2006 crash scene on his day off he was taken aside by another police officer and breathalysed and then charged with drink driving.

The judge who discharged him, Louis Erwood, said that Constable Erwood risked his life by responding to the accident. "There was nothing personal in this for you and it reflects a commitment to your job which you should be proud of."

Constable Erwood has admitted that he was over the legal limit to drive a car.

The Police Association is applauding the decision to discharge constable Erwood without a conviction. Richard Middleton, vice president of the Police Association, said that common sense has prevailed.

Superintendent Mark Lammas, area commander and Constable Erwood's boss, has said that Mr Erwood did not make the correct decision to drive drunk.

Constable Erwood will return to his job on Monday but has been given the job in North Taranaki as rural liaison officer. He will start on February 5. Mr Lammas said: "Rural police officers in small and somewhat isolated communities in particular, have a fine and sometimes difficult balance to achieve – in being active members of their community but also being seen to be impartial in the discharge of their duties as a police officer."

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