06 July 2009
Police are crediting the deterrent effect of their latest tactical option, the taser, as being sufficient to make a violent offender give himself up. The appearance of the device ended a three hour standoff between a violent offender waist deep in the Waikato River and Police in Hamilton today.
Acting Hamilton City Area Commander, Inspector Karen Henrikson, said events unfolded shortly after 8am when a female jogger phoned Police stating she had been followed by a man in a car. "A marked patrol car has begun conducting area inquiries and an unmarked car with two CIB officers has joined them and stopped a silver Toyota station wagon on Delamere Rd, Pukete. "As one of the CIB members spoke to the driver he became agitated and the officer has leant in to grab the car keys when the driver accelerated, dragging our staff member a short distance before crashing into a tree." The offender has then fled down a track to the Waikato River pursued by the injured officer's colleague.
"At this stage our staff were unaware of the identity of the offender, as it turned out he was a 36-year-old Hamilton man who was being actively sought by our staff and who we believe to have been actively avoiding capture. "The offender has gone into the Waikato River, and at times been up to his waist, where he has threatened officers with two large sticks, refusing to surrender."
Ms Henrikson said from there it was a case of Police establishing a cordon and weighing up what was the best tactical option to recover the man from the river without injury to him or Police staff. "His behaviour at this stage was quite irrational and threatening and it was assessed the safest option was to let him cool down in the river and allow negotiators to develop a dialogue. "Given his violent nature and the terrain involved using pepper spray was ruled out. Police dogs were also not an option as they were unable to gain a footing and in previous incidents we have actually lost dogs trying to affect an arrest."
It was decided the safest method of removing the offender was the use of a taser, a decision not taken lightly. "As the Waikato is yet to be issued with the device an operator was flown down by the Eagle Helicopter from Auckland. "After ensuring proper steps were in place should it be necessary to use the device the operator was introduced to the offender who was told this officer is equipped with a taser and it's capabilities were explained, this was enough to make the offender completely compliant," said Ms Henrikson.
As a result a 36-year-old man was taken into custody and is currently being interviewed by Police in regards to a range of offences. "Meanwhile our injured staff member is as well as can be expected in the circumstances and is recovering in Waikato Hospital. "At this stage Hamilton Police would like to thank local residents, St John Ambulance and Environment Waikato for their assistance in the safe resolution of what was a very serious incident," said Ms Henrikson. End