Police officer's dismissal 'justified'

CAROLINE KING
Last updated 11:24 31/01/2013

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A Canterbury police officer was justifiably sacked after placing a young woman in a "choker hold" when she grabbed his hat, an employment tribunal has ruled.

The "small young woman", referred to as V, laid a complaint against the long-serving senior constable, who can only be identified as Q, in relation to the incident which occurred in May 2010.

She accused the officer of placing her in a "head lock" or "choker hold", then dragging her outside the nightclub and yelling at her. She was then arrested.

But the police officer argued he used a "moderate degree of force" including an "approved technique" to restrain and remove her from the premises.

However, an independent police investigation found he used "excessive force" and he was dismissed on October 14, 2011.

The Employment Relations Authority agreed with the decision in a determination released yesterday, rejecting his claims of unjustified dismissal.

Authority member Rosemary Monaghan said the authority was told such pranks were not uncommon, and that tolerance was the best approach.

"However Q took the matter seriously, and sought to speak to V about it outside the club. He considered the hold he used to be necessary and appropriate, when it is best doubtful that the hold he used was the minimum restraint necessary in the circumstances. He believed it was necessary to show anger in order to control V, but that was a poor exercise of judgement.

"Q's attitude to her was disparaging and belittling. She and her friends were not causing trouble, beyond embarking on their prank," she said.

The police officer said his case was prejudiced by not being notified of the complaint sooner. He said the delay meant he was unable to obtain any CCTV footage which he argued would have cleared him of any wrong-doing.

Seven months following the incident Q was also issued with a formal written warning for being insubordinate to a senior officer. He was removed from his specialist unit and placed on ordinary police duties.

The authority also dismissed his grievance to the formal warning and restricted duties.

Costs were reserved.

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