NZ Police: wrong to stop
A road block has been set up to talk to drivers travelling a rural Otago road where a 22-year-old man was killed yesterday.
The man was killed after an object smashed through the windscreen of his blue Subaru station wagon while he was driving along State Highway 6, near Wanaka about 6.25am.
Queenstown Detective Sergeant Brian Cameron today told Radio New Zealand all drivers heading along State Highway 6 were being questioned this morning.
"We've had the checkpoint in place this morning between the hours of 6am and 7am, stopping all vehicles travelling along the stretch of road where the crash occurred.
"We've had [a] very good and positive public response which has provided some information which may be of value to the investigation team."
Police were still interested in the movements of a white ute, which was heading out of Wanaka, on the north side of the Maungawera Hill towards Hawea, sometime between 6.15am and 6.45am yesterday.
The female passenger in the blue Subaru had to grab the car's steering wheel when the incident occurred, however she was uninjured.
"The passenger has provided a statement to police in which she indicates that she believes that something may have come from the rear of this vehicle travelling towards them.
"Of course, it's still very early in the investigation and we're open to all possibilities."
So wrong. Firstly, the police can only make a roadblock in the presence of a crime scene and at the moment they don't know whether it is a crime or not. Secondly, the incident happened yesterday - a full 24 hours before - so they cannot reasonably impose a crime scene at this stage and then use that as an excuse to question every motorist on the road about something that might not even be a criminal matter. Thirdly, the facts as reported by the victim's passenger - the only information available - indicates a white ute as the possible source of this object (but no indication of whether it was deliberate or accidental) in which case that ought to be the focus of the inquiry. Setting up a dragnet to perchance get some information on a white ute from motorists who travel that route would be helpful, but it can't be lawful.
The power to do what they are doing is not here:
Section 35 of the Policing Act 2008:
(1) A constable may temporarily close to traffic any road, or part of a road, leading to or from or in the vicinity of a place, if the constable has reasonable cause to believe that—(a) public disorder exists or is imminent at or near that place; or(b) danger to a member of the public exists or may reasonably be expected at or near that place; or(c) an offence punishable by 10 or more years' imprisonment has been committed or discovered at or near that place.
It is not here:
Section 113 & 123 of the Land Transport Act 1998:
113 Enforcement officers may enforce transport legislation
(1) An enforcement officer in uniform or in possession of a warrant or other evidence of his or her authority as an enforcement officer may enforce the provisions of—
(a) the Local Government Act 1974, the Local Government Act 2002, the Road User Charges Act 2012, the Government Roading Powers Act 1989, the Railways Act 2005, the Land Transport Management Act 2003, and this Act:
(b) regulations and rules and bylaws in force under any Acts mentioned in paragraph (a).
(2) Without limiting any other powers conferred on an enforcement officer, an enforcement officer, in enforcing any provisions referred to in subsection (1), may at any time—
(a) direct a person on a road (whether or not in charge of a vehicle) to give the person's full name, full address, date of birth, occupation, and telephone number, or such of those particulars as the enforcement officer may specify, and give any other particulars required as to the person's identity, and (unless the person is for the time being detained or under arrest under any enactment) give such information as is within the person's knowledge and as may lead to the identification of the driver or person in charge of a vehicle:
(b) inspect, test, and examine—
(i) the brakes or any other part of a vehicle on a road or any associated equipment; or
(ii) a land transport document, or a document resembling a land transport document, displayed or carried on the vehicle:
(c) if the enforcement officer believes on reasonable grounds that a vehicle on a road causes an obstruction in the road or to a vehicle entrance to any property or that the removal of the vehicle is desirable in the interests of road safety or for the convenience or in the interests of the public,—
(i) enter, or authorise another person to enter, the vehicle for the purpose of moving it or preparing it for movement; and
(ii) move, or authorise another person to move, the vehicle to a place where it does not constitute a traffic hazard:
(d) direct the driver or person in charge of a vehicle on a road to remove the vehicle from the road or a specified part of a road, if the officer believes on reasonable grounds that it causes an obstruction in the road or to a vehicle entrance to any property or its removal is desirable in the interests of road safety or for the convenience or in the interests of the public:
(e) forbid an unlicensed driver to drive a motor vehicle:
(f) forbid a person who is operating a transport service without a licence to operate that transport service.
(3) An enforcement officer in uniform or wearing a distinctive cap, hat, or helmet, with a badge of authority affixed to it, who is for the time being engaged in the regulation of traffic on a road, may—
(a) direct a person using a vehicle or riding or driving an animal on the road to stop the vehicle or animal, as the case may be, or to cause it to proceed in or keep to a particular line of traffic or direction:
(b) direct a pedestrian not to proceed across the road in contravention of a direction to stop given by the enforcement officer (whether given to pedestrians or to pedestrians and other traffic).
(4) In paragraphs (c) and (d) of subsection (2), road includes any land vested in or under the control of the Crown or any local authority.[...]
123 Enforcement officer may seize and impound vehicle for up to 7 days where serious accident or hit and run offence or for failure to stop
(1) An enforcement officer may seize and impound a motor vehicle for such period (which may not exceed 7 days) as is necessary to preserve evidence (or to enable a scientific examination of evidence) or to establish the cause of a serious traffic accident, if the officer believes on reasonable grounds that—
(a) the vehicle has been involved in a serious traffic accident or a hit and run offence; or
(b) the driver has failed to stop in contravention of a signal or request made under section 114(1) or (2).
Lots of fascist bullshit, but no authority to stop and question drivers about a car accident and driver fatality that might be a crime (or might not be).
They rely on the open-ended provisions in these Acts to stop and demand identity of motorists. The statutory justification of erecting road blocks for gathering information from motorists for a specific purpose like this tragic incident is far from clear.