June 23, 2013
Deputy commissioner Bush has problems
Opinion: Deputy police commissioner Mike Bush can all but kiss his aspirations for the top job goodbye after his eulogy at disgraced former police officer Bruce Hutton's funeral.
Now Mr Bush, known among his troops as Bushy, has – and I say this in the present tense – been a great police officer.
Having watched his career over the past few years, I have to admit I like the man.
I got to know him when he was the commander in Counties-Manukau and saw first-hand the respect he got from his troops.
Mr Bush is a good detective and locked up a lot of criminals.
He was also brought up old school under some of the most hardened cops around, including John Rex Hughes.
There's a myth of Mr Hughes interviewing a hardened criminal on the seventh floor of Auckland Central police station back in the day.
So the story goes, that unfortunate criminal wasn't telling Mr Hughes the truth, so ended up hanging out from the seventh floor.
A myth but that is the stuff legends are made on.
But those days of cops taking the law into their own hands are gone and to actually get to the top police job you have to play the political game.
You also have to be wary of the political minefield that can blow up in your face.
That's why I'm wondering why Mr Bush would leap to the defence of Bruce Hutton, when what the former detective inspector did really is indefensible?
Mr Hutton worked on the police inquiry into the murders of Harvey and Jeanette Crewe.
He was the detective who a Royal Commission later claimed planted crucial evidence that led to the unjust conviction of Arthur Allan Thomas.
Though Mr Hutton was never charged, the stigma of the Royal Commission finding never went away.
So when Mr Bush made comments at Mr Hutton's funeral, he did not say them as Mike Bush – friend and private citizen – but Mike Bush, deputy police commissioner.
He said Mr Hutton was a good cop with good character who had "integrity beyond reproach".
And it's those three words which landed Mr Bush in the firing line of Trevor Mallard.
The Labour MP is a very shrewd character and saw this as a chance to not only line up Mr Bush but also Police Minister Anne Tolley as well.
Mr Bush's demise might be sad for his career but it could also open the door for New Zealand's first Māori Police Commissioner Viv Rickard.
Mr Rickard is a great guy and in actual fact ranks higher than Mr Bush, though they are both deputy commissioners.
Mr Rickard is of Te Arawa, Ngāti Whare and Ngāti Porou descent and might just be the man to take over from Peter Marshall.
Either way, it's an interesting time for both deputies.