Police Association launches 2017 election year policy document: Towards a Safer New Zealand

NZPA | Thu June 22nd, 2017

The proliferation of illegal firearms in New Zealand has provided a sobering backdrop for today’s launch of the Police Association’s 2017 election year policy document.

Association President Chris Cahill referred to yesterday’s Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) finding that the Waikato Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) was justified in shooting an armed offender who pulled a gun on a police officer.

“The report details how the offender aimed at an officer but his shotgun failed, and when he tried to reload, he was shot by the AOS and later died.  It is chilling reading on a number of fronts,” Mr Cahill said.

“Had it not been for the initial failure of the offender’s shotgun the story could have been another police fatality,” he said.

“There is no satisfaction in ‘I told you so’, in this game, and that is why our Policy Document highlights the danger illegal firearms pose to members of the public and police officers.  That is why we are so critical of the Government’s decision to reject key recommendations from the Select Committee report into issues relating to the illegal possession of firearms,” he said. 

“It is as if they don’t believe what is really happening out on the frontlines”.  

“Take Wednesday, during a routine traffic stop in Onehunga.  As an officer spoke with the driver he saw the barrel of a pistol protruding on the floor by the driver’s seat.  The officer retreated to the patrol car to access his weapon from the lockbox and was then able to arrest the offender.  The revolver originally seen was confiscated, along with a sawn-off shotgun and meth found in the boot,” he said.

Mr Cahill said he is determined to alert New Zealanders to the constant reports he has from Association members who find, or are confronted by, illegal firearms during routine policing.

Among its many recommendations for political parties, the Association calls for increasing pressure on organised crime and gangs, and a serious focus on processes that will ensure better records of how many firearms there are in New Zealand, and who has them.

The Association applauds the Government’s increase in police numbers, announced at the beginning of this year.  However it warns that by the time the 880 extra officers are all in place by 2021, New Zealand’s population will have risen to the point where the population-to-police ratio will be little better than it is today.

“We are cognisant of the fact that policing is not about arresting or imprisoning our way to safer communities,” Mr Cahill said.

“We need to be smarter in how we allocate resources and target crime. We know that simply doing more of the same with extra resources is not a viable strategy, and we know that waiting for policing to reach breaking point before paying it due attention is seriously damaging to the welfare of police officers.”

Read the NZPA 2017 Policy Document here.

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