An essential worker in Hamilton claims a police officer breached her 2m bubble while issuing her a speeding ticket in the city.
While the worker, who did not want to be named, accepted she was speeding, she had hoped to police would show leniency to essential workers on their way to jobs.
However, Waikato’s road policing boss Inspector Jeff Penno stands by his staff’s decision to go ahead with the ticket, saying he had “zero tolerance” for speeding, especially during the Covid-19 lockdown.
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Speaking on the worker’s behalf, a resident who also didn’t want to be named, said he received a call from the woman “crying and shaking” after the incident on Gordonton Rd yesterday.
In a tweet, which has since been deleted, the man labelled the interaction with the officer as “deplorable”.
“There was no compassion, kindness or empathy,” he wrote.
“Even passers-by and cyclists were telling the policeman it is deplorable given all the other cars speeding around them. Didn’t care and the power went to head, even though our essential workers are already feeling vulnerable #justwicked.”
When contacted, the man said the woman accepted she shouldn’t have been speeding but it was the officer’s “attitude and lack of leniency given the current circumstances”.
“Chasing essential workers instead of lockdown offenders is just wrong to meet their quota. Also his lack of PPE and mask, leaning into the vehicle so she asked him to please stand back 2m.
“That was when a cyclist came back to defend the nurse.”
The woman, who was in uniform, had been travelling in a branded vehicle to visit a medically dependent patient being cared for at home.
The man said it was a shock to the woman and the fact she wasn’t issued a warning.
“We all feel for essential workers as they are vulnerable too, even the police.”
Penno confirmed the speeding ticket was issued at 11am yesterday.
However, he added that just because the country was in lockdown, it didn’t change the road rules including speed limits.
“The laws of physics have not changed despite the lockdown level. The traffic regulations haven’t altered and while police are being as lenient as we can to anything that people don’t have control over, and we accept that people can’t get warrant of fitnesses and we accept that driver’s licences have expired and we have been really lenient with the public on that.
“The things that people are doing voluntarily are speeding, not wearing seatbelts, using their phone or driving while impaired and we will enforce those specific offences because people are choosing to offend and the consequences of those offences when something happens are so devastating.”
His comments come just hours after attending a crash in Melville, Hamilton where high speed and distraction were believed to have been involved.
“This morning we saw a clear example of an event which has occurred which is then impacted by the amount of speed or energy involved and we’ve seen a horrendous outcome this morning and it’s only for the grace of God and the goodwill of members of the public that no one was killed.”
The three occupants were pulled from the burning car by quick thinking neighbours. They were all in a serious condition in Waikato Hospital this morning.
He acknowledged the “excellent” work essential workers had been doing however police wouldn’t be showing any leniency for speeding.
“Every crash prevented is keeping our emergency services and hospital workers free to continue to do their jobs in fighting Covid-19.”
As for the lack of PPE and claims of 2m bubble breaching, he said police were “acutely aware of hygiene and personal safety, and have extensive guidelines for the wearing and use of PPE”.
“Police provide all staff with individual PPE kits as well as instructions on how to use this equipment properly, both in written and video form.
“These instructions include the wearing of masks when the officer is likely to come into contact with a person showing flu-like symptoms. There is no general order or instruction to wear masks at all times.”
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He backed his officer’s actions.
“I am confident the officer involved complied with the directions that all police staff are aware of and are adhering to.”
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