Police dog handler cleared over high speed pursuit

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NZN

A police dog handler has been cleared over a pursuit that saw a fleeing car reach 170km/h before crashing near Petone.

But the police watchdog has flagged some confusion during the event.

Police emergency scene

Police emergency scene

Source: 1 NEWS

In a report released today, the Independent Policy Conduct Authority found the chase - which started in Taita last year - was justified and generally handled well by police.

However, it also found the pursuing officer didn't properly break off the chase.

The officer, a dog handler, had spotted two stolen Subarus in Taita about 4am on November 12 and began to pursue them in a dog van.

But when he lost sight of the vehicles,he didn't pull over and report back as required but instead kept going, looking down side streets in hope of spotting the cars.

Later he would tell the authority he didn't think he'd broken the chase off.

"You can't abandon something that's not happening. I told comms that I'd lost the vehicle so I... didn't think I had to actually stop and carry out abandonment procedures."

A short time after the chase restarted, with one fleeing car eventually reaching a speed of 170/km on State Highway 2 before crashing in Petone.

The driver, an 18-year-old man, and a passenger, 17, tried to flee but were attacked and bitten by a police dog.

IPCA chair Colin Doherty criticised the confusion during the break in the chase.

"The pursuit controller should have sought confirmation from the pursuing officer as to whether or not he was abandoning the pursuit," he said

He found the use of a dog was justified.

Police say lessons had been learnt from the event.

"Both the attending officer and the communications centre staff have been retrained on the abandonment of police pursuits," Inspector Chris Bensemann said.

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