Cop gives false name, gets promotion

BLAIR ENSOR
Last updated 05:00 12/05/2012

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A policeman caught out giving a false name over a jet skiing incident has now been promoted.

Rotorua officer Aaron Bateman was off-duty when he and a friend were stopped on Lake Okareka and fined under a council bylaw for towing a person without an observer on February 12.

When confronted by a Bay of Plenty Regional Council employee, Mr Bateman and the friend provided false names. One of the names was that of a friend, who told The Dominion Post he was surprised to receive a $200 fine in the mail.

His wife rang harbourmaster Pererika Makiha and complained that the ticket had been issued to the wrong person. Further inquiries uncovered Mr Bateman and his friend's dishonesty.

The council ordered the pair to pay $200 each for the initial breach and fined them another $200 each for giving false names.

Police investigated the incident internally, but no criminal charges were laid.

Rotorua area commander Inspector Bruce Horne said Mr Bateman did not commit a criminal offence, but acknowledged he had breached a council bylaw.

"The actions of the officer involved were clearly not of the high standards the police expect, and he was subject to an internal code of conduct investigation."

Mr Horne said he was "bound by employment law", which meant he could not reveal the outcome of the investigation.

It is understood Mr Bateman argued the incident was a practical joke gone wrong.

When contacted by The Dominion Post this week, Mr Bateman denied being a police officer and said he knew nothing about a jet skiing incident.

However, when The Dominion Post phoned a second time, a woman answered and confirmed he was a police officer before hanging up.

Three months after the incident, sources have revealed Mr Bateman has been promoted from constable to sergeant.

A police source said staff at the station were shocked that he "got away with it" – and then received a promotion soon after.

"How can a guy like that stand up in court and give evidence next time? If I got stopped on the side of the road and I gave false details to a cop and it was found out ... I would expect to be stood down from duty," the source said.

Sensible Sentencing Trust Rotorua spokesman Peter Bentley said the promotion "flies in the face of commonsense" and he believed Mr Bateman should apologise publicly over the incident.

"I just thought it [the promotion] sucked. It's not what you do to a person that has been reprimanded so recently."

Mr Horne defended the promotion. "Police are satisfied that this was an isolated incident and that the matter has now been resolved.

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"Given that the officer involved has already paid the council fine and been the subject of an investigation into his actions, police considered that further action that would impact on his career would be disproportionate to the original offence.

"The decision taken by police was also balanced against his otherwise excellent record as a police officer."

- The Dominion Post

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