The country's next top police boss has been named as deputy commissioner Mike Bush.
Bush replaces outgoing police commissioner Peter Marshall.
The announcement was made today by Police Minister Anne Tolley who said Bush had been appointed after managing a change programme in police which contributed to a 17.4 per cent drop in recorded crimes over the past three years.
He was responsible for planning and operations for the 2011 Rugby World Cup and also led the rollout of smart phones and tablets for frontline staff, contributing to an additional half a million frontline crime prevention hours each year.
Bush is said to be a favourite of staff but has been under fire in the past from Opposition politicians over a speech at the funeral of retired Detective Inspector Bruce Hutton, who was found by a royal commission of inquiry to have planted evidence in the case against Arthur Allan Thomas.
Thomas was wrongly convicted of the murders of Harvey and Jeanette Crewe.
Bush told mourners at Hutton's funeral that he had integrity beyond reproach.
Bush today apologised for giving offence over the eulogy.
"On reflection, I do regret giving that eulogy in my role as deputy commissioner," he said.
"The intention was good but I do understand if people were offended and I apologise to anyone who may have been offended."
The brother of the Arthur Allan Thomas, Des Thomas, said the apology was a start but should have been personally addressed to Arthur.
"We would like him to give Arthur a written apology. That would show his sincerity. That would go a long way to showing he has a sense of justice here," he said.
Thomas said he had spoken to his brother and that he and his family would have preferred a written apology.
"He hasn't even heard it. It should have been directed to Arthur," Des Thomas said.
Arthur Allan Thomas was home but would not talk to media this afternoon.
Bush would have to address police corruption and malpractice, particularly in the Crewe murder case if he was to prove his integrity, Thomas said "At the end of the day Hutton planted evidence on an innocent man and sent him to prison for nine years. This is an ongoing thing," he said.
However, the apology was a step in the right direction for the commissioner and for police, Thomas said.
"I am willing to give him a chance. If this review doesn't go the right way, and they dont acknowledge the corruption, if they are not going to seriously look at that we are going to have look at somehting else. Maybe a proper public enquiry," he said.
In a statement, Tolley said Bush had held challenging roles in rural, provincial and urban areas and as district commander in Counties Manukau he pioneered the implementation of neighbourhood policing teams.
As police liaison officer for South East Asia he was also the first New Zealand official to reach Phuket following the devastating 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and was awarded the MNZM (Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit) for his work during the operation.
"I believe Mike Bush will be an outstanding Commissioner of Police and will build on the excellent work of the current Commissioner Peter Marshall," Tolley said.
"We already have a very good working relationship and the challenge is to continue to improve our well respected and modern police service to ensure it delivers the safe communities the New Zealand public expect and deserve."
The Governor-General makes the appointment on the recommendation of the prime minister.
In a statement, Bush paid a tribute to the outgoing commissioner.
"Peter Marshall has championed change at police in order to deliver better results to the Government and New Zealanders and to better support the victims of crime.
"Under his leadership, reported crime and road deaths have continued to fall and police are spending more time focused on supporting victims and the community through a prevention-based approach.
"We are building a truly innovative and modern policing service and I am committed to continuing that journey and taking policing to the next level."
His priorities as commissioner would be to make New Zealanders feel safe in the community and put victims "at the heart of everything we do."
He takes up the appointment on April 3.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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