Police trial new response to high risk events

  • Hon Stuart Nash

Police Minister Stuart Nash says the safety of frontline officers and members of the public will be the focus of a new trial of specialist Police response teams in three of our largest urban centres.

Police have this morning released details of an initiative to be trialled in Counties Manukau, Waikato and Canterbury which will involve more active deployment of the Armed Offenders Squad (AOS).

“Police continue to operate in a law and order environment where the threat level remains at medium following the March 15 terror attacks,” Mr Nash says.

“Police are continually reviewing the way they respond to high-risk incidents and ensure community safety during critical events. The six-month trial of Armed Response Teams (ARTs) is the latest feature of that ongoing reassessment.

“The safety of Police officers and members of the public are given utmost priority when responding to dangerous incidents. It is also important that frontline Police have access to the tools and resources they need in high-risk or critical events. Earlier this year Police also began the rollout of new body armour worth almost $21 million.

“The trial of these new teams will be closely monitored and does not mean that Police are moving to routine arming. The three areas have been selected for the trial because of the incidence of crimes involving armed offenders. They also have the largest AOS groups.

“Nationally more than 1400 firearms have been seized from offenders since March. Police turn up to some callouts with no knowledge of what they are walking into. Every month Police turn up to 200 incidents where a firearm is involved. Police intelligence indicates most illegally-held firearms are stolen from legitimate owners.

“Police need to be able to respond in a way that keeps themselves and the public safe. They will carry standard Glock pistols and Tasers and the standard Bushmaster rifles will be in lock boxes in vehicles.

“The coalition government is committed to supporting Police with the resources they need. The number of frontline Police officers is the highest it has ever been and we are continuing to invest heavily in recruitment to ensure crime prevention and community safety. One of our top priorities is to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders and this requires ongoing support for Police,” Mr Nash says.