'Obstinate' officer's grievance claim fails

MYLES HUME AND NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 05:00 01/09/2014

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A Christchurch policeman who let a suspected drink-driver wander off because he was so engrossed in paperwork has had a series of claims dismissed in the Employment Court.

Constable Stephen Davis was forced to move to Christchurch after disputes with superior officers in Northland, but experienced more employment problems here and filed further grievances to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

Davis had sought compensation for being transferred and alleged he had been bullied, intimidated and harassed by a fellow officer, and that police had failed to fairly investigate the conduct of another officer.

The Employment Court decided to hear all of the grievances together, with hearings held in Whangarei and Christchurch.

Davis' grievances stemmed from an overtime compensation dispute with two fellow officers at Mangonui station in Northland, prompting a senior sergeant to step in and set clear rules about overtime.

That led to Davis making unfounded accusations that another officer used improper violence against prisoners held in the cells.

The relationship between Davis and the other officer deteriorated, with Davis claiming he had been told to "be careful" because things had changed. Davis said he felt endangered and unsafe while working at Mangonui station.

Human resource managers investigated and found faults on both sides, but Davis was seconded to the nearby Kaeo station, sparking his first complaint to the ERA.

Davis claimed the other officer continued to harass him, and he was later transferred to Christchurch where he was appointed to the traffic alcohol group (TAG) team.

Employment Court Judge Mark Perkins said Davis' supervising sergeant began to notice minor performance issues shortly after he arrived in Christchurch.

In one incident, Davis allowed a suspected drink-driver to wander off a booze bus while he was engrossed in paperwork.

"Davis did nothing at the time, continued his paperwork and then found the suspect had left," the judge said in a written decision.

The suspect was later convicted, but the incident was investigated by police and Davis was issued with a performance improvement plan.

Davis complained about the plan and said his sergeant discriminated against him by having a "pecking order in the team where she played favourites", and the favourites were "treated like ‘pseudo boyfriends/servants".

Davis alleged the "favourites" were allowed to eat food at meetings, change meal times, be late to meetings, and talk about golf in meetings.

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Judge Perkins said it seemed Davis did not take kindly to criticism and appeared to believe, "without any solid foundation", that anyone involved from his employer's side was "dishonest and corrupt".

"He embarked upon a crusade, obstinately refusing to respect the views of others and adopting a rigid, unwavering stance. The majority of complaints were so trivial as to not warrant further investigation."

Judge Perkins dismissed all of Davis' claims and noted it was significant that he had remained a sworn police officer in Christchurch "despite all that has happened".

- The Press

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