New police boss aiming high

Last updated 15:59 03/04/2014
Mike Bush
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ

ON THE BEAT: New Police Commissioner Mike Bush, middle, on his first day at his job. Pictured with Constable Roger Fouhy and Constable Becky Taylor.

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Booze-fuelled crime, road deaths, and organised drugs crime will be some of the focal issues in the spotlight on New Zealand's new top cop's watch.

''We are going to continue focus on the higher-level offenders - the importers, the dealers, the manufacturers," new police commissioner Mike Bush promised on his first day.

"But we also want to work across a number of agencies to reduce the number of people that are getting involved in this activity.'' 

The former Counties-Manukau police district commander spoke of a need to divert Kiwi youths away from a life of crime and alcohol abuse as he laid down his strategies in Wellington today after taking the reins from retiring commissioner Peter Marshall.

''We won't rest on our laurels,'' Bush assured.

Bush oversaw a major strategy sea-change as police focus turned to prevention - credited by police with contributing to continually falling reported crime rates.

He highlighted the problem of methamphetamine and also booze-related crime, which continued to account for as much as half of all offending police dealt with. Changing the culture of alcohol abuse in New Zealand would also be a focus, Bush said.

He begins today in the wake of a string of police successes stinging organised crime rings which peaked with the multimillion dollar Operation Ghost drug bust at the end of last year.

However, Bush also inherits the ongoing issue of the Roastbusters scandal, concerning a group of Auckland youths who bragged on social media about alleged group sex exploits with drunk and underage girls that threw police handling of the saga into the spotlight. The case has not yet reached its conclusion but police remained keen to resolve it, he said.

The new commissioner marked the changing of guard today by rubbing shoulders with the constabulary on the capital beat after being sworn in at Government House by Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae.

The appointment was announced in March by Police Minister Anne Tolley, which saw Bush promoted from deputy commissioner of operations to the the top job.

He joined the police as a constable in Kaitaia in 1978 and took over the highest ranking position at Counties-Manukau in 2008, and is known within the police force for solving every murder case that has ever came across his desk. 

He was made deputy commissioner in 2011 after career highlights including leading the Rugby World Cup 2011 policing operation. He also received the Royal New Zealand Order of Merit for his work in South East Asia as the first New Zealand official to reach Phuket following the devastating 2004 Boxing Day tsunami that ravaged the region.

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- The Dominion Post

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