2 Apr 2020

Outgoing police commissioner Mike Bush reflects on 42 years in the service

6:26 pm on 2 April 2020

Police commissioner Mike Bush will this evening hang up his cap for the final time.

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 02: Outgoing Police Commissioner Mike Bush speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on April 02, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Outgoing police commissioner Mike Bush. Photo: Pool / Getty Images

Bush is retiring from the police after 42 years in the service.

He will continue to lead the response to the nationwide lockdown caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic, but from now on he says he will be fronting media without the "bling" of his police issue suit.

Earlier, RNZ's police reporter Ben Strang asked him what he was most proud of from his time in the police.

"We've modernised and transformed everything," Bush said.

"That takes a lot of work by the leadership of the organisation. I'd say that's what I'm most proud of.

"How we've moved an organisation, shaped the culture, shaped and driven a new way of leading, how we've used technology to enable everything we need to do, and to provide a really modern service for people."

Bush has led the police through a massive culture change in the past six years, but has also led a move to embrace technology.

While the force has not been without controversy in his time as commissioner, Bush said he had no regrets.

"I will be leaving tonight, extremely proud of the organisation, but also proud of what we've been able to achieve.

"I don't have any regrets. I had a plan when I became commissioner, and I believe we've achieved everything we set out to do."

Bush said the past year has been the toughest he has experienced in policing.

He said the Christchurch mosque attacks, the Whakaari / White Island eruption, and now the Covid-19 pandemic had changed the environment in which police worked.

Asked about changes in the wake of those events, and if he could see the police routinely arming themselves, he said he did not like the idea.

"A lot of people inside the organisation are split on that, but as a leadership team we don't believe there is any evidence to suggest that arming the police will keep them or the community any safer.

"So what we've got to do is look at the right deployment model."

He said that was why police were piloting the Armed Response Teams, which he said would end at the end of the month, pending review.

The new commissioner

Andrew Coster will replace Bush as commissioner from tomorrow, with the incumbent saying the force is in good hands.

Andrew Coster.

Andrew Coster. Photo: Supplied/NZ Police

"I've worked with Andy since 2008, he was on my leadership team in Counties Manukau.

"He's one of the smartest people you will ever meet, his integrity is of the highest standard, and he'll just take the organisation to the next level."

Does he want to give him any advice?

"Look, he probably doesn't need any [advice], but what I'd say to all leaders is when you've got a plan, you've got a vision, yes, absolutely, listen to those around you and ask the right questions, but never blink."

Bush said he would miss putting on the blue uniform each day.

"I'm going to miss the people inside it, I'll miss the challenges.

"But... probably my wife and I will have a break, and have a holiday."

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