The debate about arming police
July 14, 2010Previous Blogs
Events in Christchurch on Tuesday have again highlighted the very real dangers facing front line police officers.
Nine police officers have been shot in the past two years, two of them fatally.
Senior Constable Bruce Lamb and Constable Mitchel Alatalo were carrying out very routine enquiries when they were shot. This demonstrates a continuing trend that a small group in society feels it's okay to have weapons and to use them against police.
This threatens not only the safety of police and the public, but the confidence with which we police society.
We cannot expect guardians of the law to soak up casualties. Doing nothing is not an option.
We have been working through a review of our firearms access policy for several months.
I still firmly believe the routine arming of all police staff would fundamentally alter the good relationship police currently has with the New Zealand public. However we must find a solution that makes the best possible protection available to police staff.
The current policy for armed threats is to cordon and contain. It was introduced after a series of fatal shootings in the 1960s and has served us well for nearly 50 years. Cordoning officers may be armed with a Bushmaster rifle under the authority of a supervisor; the Glock 9mm handgun is available for defensive purposes. The armed offenders squad is usually called in to resolve armed incidents.<