Police Prepare for Civil Disorder | The Jackal

28 May 2011

Police Prepare for Civil Disorder

Despite funding cuts for Woman’s refuges and many other social services, the Police got brand new expensive riot gear this week, which turns your average constable into a protester-bashing machine. Throughout the country, police have been kitted out with the armour to better prepare for public disorder. Police insist that the red bibs have nothing to do with the infamous Red Squad set up to deal with anti-Springbok tour protests.

For 56 days in July, August and September 1981, New Zealanders were divided against each other in the largest civil disturbance seen since the 1951 waterfront dispute. More than 150,000 people took part in over 200 demonstrations in 28 centres, and 1500 were charged with offences stemming from these protests. Despite well documented Police brutality, no Police were ever charged with assault.

The new armour has been distributed throughout New Zealand at an undisclosed cost to ensure all officers have the same level of protection in all police districts. National manager of operations Barry Taylor went onto say he did not anticipate it being used or seen during the Rugby World Cup. So this begs the question, what are you going to use this equipment for? There’s recently been many large anti Governmental protests occurring in other countries on the back of similar repressive policy’s that National are planning to implement, which could have sparked the large investment in crowd control equipment.
Police officers from around the country will spend two weeks at the Royal New Zealand Police College, training in the use of the new riot equipment. Being that abused Woman and children in New Zealand need the services of a refuge every other day, why has New Zealand purchased this expensive equipment to the detriment of essential services?

Many Woman’s refuges are already preparing to shut their doors on the back of Nationals funding cuts, meaning that battered females will no longer be able to escape their abusive partners. Cutting funding to Woman’s refuges while funding equipment that will spend most of its time in the broom cupboard is a travesty! The few occasions that the Police might utilize such equipment will be to subdue the will of the public, who ironically pay the taxes used to purchase such equipment utilized in their own repression.
The new crowd control equipment comes at the same time a proposal to give police officers the ability to use their stun guns whenever they feel the need gains media endorsement. Police have also been granted more access to firearms, continuing Nationals policy trend of the Ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. How long the funding remains for that ambulance is debatable.

The granting of additional powers, more weapons in Police vehicles and riot control equipment comes despite the Minister of Police Judith Collins claiming that crime rates have fallen. The increased funding also comes on the back of some terrible cases of Police abuse and brutality that have seen relatively little media coverage. Surely the funds would be better spent on rectifying the negative culture that pervades our Police force.