Tactical Response Model (TRM)

Nothing is more important to Police than the safety of our people and our communities across New Zealand.

We cannot succeed in our vision to make New Zealand the safest country unless we are doing everything we can to keep our staff and communities safe, and do that in a style of policing that New Zealanders expect and deserve.

Over the past year, there has been a great deal of work undertaken by Police’s Frontline Safety Improvement Programme that listened to more than 1250 staff around their concerns and ideas to improve staff safety. We have engaged with Māori, Pacific and Ethnic community leaders, and taken on board feedback from those who shared their thoughts on Armed Response Teams.

This engagement has informed the development of a new tactical response model. This model is designed around enhancing frontline training; improving frontline access to specialist capability, and strengthening risk-based deployment and technology.
 

Our changing operational environment

Our frontline officers operate in a dynamic and unpredictable environment and are often called to put themselves in harm’s way to keep the public safe. Increasingly, they face threats from those willing to use violence against police, and others.

In recent years we have responded to terror attacks, the increasingly sophisticated nature of organised crime, gang-violence, the availability of illegal firearms, and devastatingly – the death of our own Constable Matthew Hunt, who was murdered while undertaking routine policing duties.

The model

The model has three key components: enhancing frontline training; improving frontline access to specialist capability, and strengthening risk-based deployment and technology.

Enhanced frontline training

We are doubling our annual tactical training for frontline staff, starting with our Public Safety Teams and Road Policing. This additional training will be modelled on the Frontline Skills Enhancement Course and will provide four days of scenario-based training focusing on appropriate tactical response and de-escalation.

Improving frontline access to specialist capability

Our staff told us they felt safer when they had specialist staff on duty who they could call on for assistance to help resolve critical situations safely. So, secondly, we are increasing the number of staff with Advanced Tactical Training (meaning Armed Offender Squad qualified) to roster them on-shift across two areas:

  • As new positions to enable dog units to operate as a two-person dog team. This will increase the day-to-day safety of handlers who often respond to high-risk incidents alone. As a team they can provide additional specialist tactical support for frontline staff in responding to critical events.
  • And as members of Tactical Prevention Teams, which will be part of existing investigative units that are primarily focused on planned operations to apprehend priority and high-risk offenders and combat organised crime. These specialist teams will also be available to support frontline staff if called on to respond urgently to high-risk incidents.

These staff will wear standard police uniforms and drive standard police vehicles. They will not be generally armed but will have immediate access to tactical options including firearms if the situation requires it.

Risk-based deployment and technology

To support our deployment model we will boost our intelligence capability, so we can deploy staff more safely with increased awareness of the environment and identified threats and priority offenders.

This will enhance the safety of our staff, ensuring they have access to the best information available to support decision making and risk assessments.
 

How it will look


We understand that policing by consent carries significant responsibilities, and that our communities must have trust and confidence in the way we deliver our services.

For a member of the public, this won’t look any different. That’s important to us because we want to remain approachable and connected to our communities as part of our everyday policing.

But for our frontline staff, and our communities, this will provide benefits to safety. It will enhance our ability to better prevent, respond to, and resolve critical incidents.

 

Consultation


Police engaged with staff, iwi, and the wider community to gain feedback to support any refinements which would ensure the success of this model in practice.

Public feedback was welcomed over a four-week engagement period as we want to make sure this works in our communities and that people understand what we are doing to keep them and their communities safe.

Consultation has now closed and feedback is being considered.

 

Research


Research into tactical options in the current policing environment

Below are the findings from an insights and evidence brief – Appropriate Tactical Settings – of tactical options, including research into the general arming of Police and the potential impacts of any change to tactical options.

The research was first undertaken following the death of Constable Matthew Hunt in 2020, to identify how we could best keep our people safe, while also delivering a Police service New Zealanders expect and deserve. The report was reviewed this year to ensure any new international research was considered and the findings updated accordingly. It has also been independently reviewed by Justice Sector Chief Science Advisor Professor Ian Lambie, who advised it provided an accurate account of the data and literature available.

The evidence indicates that routine arming of Police could increase risks to public safety and the number of people shot, rather than improving safety of Police and the public. It is inconclusive about whether it would make our staff safer.

It was found that offenders’ firearm use against Police does not appear to be influenced by whether Police are armed or unarmed. It also found that New Zealand Police continues to rely on other tactical options to resolve events, even when the threshold for use of firearms is met.

The findings also suggest that routine arming could negatively impact the relationship between Police and some members of the public. The way we currently police and engage with the public has safety benefits for us all.

Some other jurisdictions that don’t have general arming do have specialist firearms roles in Police to support their frontline and public safety. Our new Tactical Response Model will improve frontline access to specialist capability, as well as enhanced tactical training.

The report found there are four areas where Police has the opportunity to improve our understanding:

  • The safety perception of staff – to obtain information from the frontline about factors that contribute to that perception.
  • Data capture – how Police records and collects information would benefit from a joint understanding between Police and the Police Association.
  • Tactical alerts and intelligence – improving up-to-date information for staff particularly relating to vehicles, given the high number of vehicle stops and fleeing drivers, and the fact that these account for 84 percent of firearms presentations and discharges at Police since 2019.
  • Better communication between frontline staff attending incidents and Emergency Communications Centres – to ensure good decision making for the safety of both officers and the public.

These opportunities for improvement are all addressed as part of Police’s new Tactical Response Model. The style of policing in New Zealand is one we don’t want to lose. Our connection with our communities supports the ability of our staff to do their jobs safely, and to protect our communities.

 

News and updates