No reason for Police to carry guns | The Jackal

7 Jun 2020

No reason for Police to carry guns

So why exactly did the New Zealand Police undertake an armed response teams (ARTs) trial in the first place? Of course there was the Christchurch mosque terrorism attack, but that was an isolated incident and therefore cannot be used as an excuse to arm Police. What this trial does do is remind us all of the military Police deployed in the Ururewa raids, which unfairly targeted Maori in a disproportionate manner.

When 66% of those shot by Police are Maori you’ve really got to wonder why they failed to consult tangata whenua about such a controversial issue? Surely Maori, who are twice as likely to be sent to Court for the same type of offending, should have a say in any major changes to how the Police operate? After all, Maori will clearly be disproportionately effected by an armed Police force.

Not only have the Police breached the Crown’s treaty obligations; it is patently clear that they’ve also failed to address their not-so unconscious bias against Maori in any meaningful way.

Correspondingly, by arming the Police the Government is acknowledging their own failure. Arming the Police would mean that society has broken down to such an extent that Police cannot deescalate most situations without the use of guns. It would mean that poverty, which is essentially a form of entrapment, has become so widespread and pervasive as to not allow people to survive without undertaking crime.

In a country as wealthy as ours, surely the Government should do more to address the root causes of crime instead of just sending another ambulance to the bottom of the cliff.

Although handguns (and now assault riffles thanks to Jacinda Ardern) are difficult for criminals to attain in New Zealand, there is no question that Police carrying guns will cause hardened criminals to do the same. There is no question that Police being armed isn’t a deterrent to organised and serious crime either, so why exactly was this trial undertaken when we know there’s no operational benefit and already have Armed Offenders Squads?

Besides, the Police already have numerous weapons at their disposal. Pepper spray and Tasers are an effective and usually non-lethal option. In most cases where the Police have shot and killed somebody, a different weapons choice could have instead saved that persons life.

But if all that wasn’t enough to convince the Government to enforce the no-surprises legislation to ensure the Police didn’t simply treat politically damaging matters as operational…the trial itself failed as well.

Yesterday, RNZ reported:

Armed Response Teams trial: 'Bizarre' holes in callout data 

Police in the Armed Response Teams failed to record their callouts properly on almost every occasion during the trial's first two months. 
The six-month experiment ended in April. The trial involved a group of officers in three regions - Counties Manukau, Waikato and Canterbury - equipped with guns on their hips at all times. 
Officers were expected to record and submit data on every single call-out. In the first two months, data from five out of every six callouts was missing.

There’s no point in having a trial if you’re not going to collect data.

"There is still a level of underreporting that, while not posing an immediate problem, means that a complete picture is not available. As a fraction of the number of incidents ARTs have been deployed to, the number of EOD forms received by the EBPC is still quite low (17%)," an EBPC document from January this year said. 
A report from December stated: "These discrepancies likely reflect a general under-reporting of deployment activity and selective reporting practices across each district."

So the trial, which was apparently not approved by the Government, was a complete fiasco! Not only did Police carry guns to general-purpose callouts like traffic stops, they didn’t even bother to keep proper records, meaning that any findings cannot be relied upon and are consequently irrelevant!

It cannot be overstated that the Police carrying guns is NOT an operational matter. It is a political matter and must go through the normal checks and balances plus an electoral process to see whether a majority of the public believes Police carrying guns en masse is justified. Let me assure all concerned that Kiwi voters will be against the militarisation of the Police force.