“Nothing is more important or critical to us as a police service than safety – for both our communities and our people,” says Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.
Today Police is releasing the Armed Response Team (ART) evaluation and the proposed next steps in improving public and officer safety.
“We police with the consent of the public and that is both a responsibility and privilege we take very seriously. Our relationship with the communities we serve is vital to us all.
“We cannot succeed in our vision to make New Zealand the safest country unless we keep our people safe first.
“The ART evaluation clearly shows that our staff felt safer at high-risk events when they had specialist staff with them to guide the response, so that is something we’ve taken on board.
“At the same time, we also know that having an armed tactical response team based full-time in our communities was not something with which all people were comfortable.
“The evaluation has provided a lot of learnings for us. Front-line policing is constantly changing in New Zealand and we need to ensure we are continuously reviewing and updating our processes, tactical resources, and practices to keep our people and our communities safe. Doing nothing is not an option.
“This year we lost an officer when he was conducting a routine traffic stop. This was a tragic loss to his family and to our Police whānau. As Commissioner it is my job to keep our people safe.
“After Constable Hunt’s death we prioritised a number of immediate actions. We took those actions, our wider tactical capability review, and the learnings from this evaluation and we pulled them together to create the Frontline Safety Improvement Programme.
“The improving safety document outlines more information on this work and the areas it will encompass, such as training, equipment and capability, reviewing our approach to risk, and our response model.
“Our staff have been asked to provide input into the Frontline Safety Improvement Programme and there are already ideas coming through from them. Some of these are mentioned in the document and will be explored as part of the programme to see if they are feasible to develop and bring to our communities as options.
“What is clear to me is that we need to do everything we can to protect our people, so that they can protect our communities.
“Our focus now is getting on with the work that will enable safety solutions that are right for New Zealanders and the style of policing that Kiwis expect. We recognise that by keeping the community on board, we also increase the safety of the environment in which our people operate.”
Notes to Media
New Zealand Police remains committed to staying a generally unarmed Police service.
Armed Response Team (ART) Trial Evaluation Report
There was a six-month trial of ARTs in three districts; Canterbury, Counties Manukau, and Waikato. ARTs acted as a mobile Armed Offenders Squad who were available immediately to respond to incidents, as opposed to on call. As announced in June, ARTs will not be part of future New Zealand policing. The full evaluation of the six-month trial is now complete and available here.