Thursday, December 9

Opinions divided on new funds for police tactical teams, training and personnel

The police’s new plan to train more officers for higher-risk situations is described as a worrying step toward a fully armed force.

Generic police

Archive image.
Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The government is investing $ 45 million to fund police tactical equipment, front-line training, intelligence analysis, and additional personnel. It says the aligned teams of tactical response officers are not a return to the controversial Armed Response Teams (ART) that ended last year.

Chester Borrows, a former police officer and former chair of the government’s Safe and Effective Justice task force, said the new model was less inflammatory than the Armed Response Teams approach.

He liked how the officers wore normal uniforms but had better training and closer access to weapons.

“It seems much more strategic and technical than the blunt force of ARTs driving large vehicles that want to provoke what appeared to be quite a strong and deadly force,” Borrows said.

The model will feature an additional 200 employees with advanced tactical training to the Armed Offender Squad’s qualified standard. Agents will target high-risk criminals, firearms, methamphetamine, and organized crime groups.

With more aggression on the streets, police must be prepared, Borrows said.

“There needs to be a proportionate response, and I’m not surprised that the police are going to train more people in the use of special technical weapons and technical approaches – that’s the world we live in.”

However, Dr. Juan Tauri, a senior professor of criminology at the University of Waikato, was not convinced.

He believed that the new model was not much different from the highly criticized ARTs that were tested after the Christchurch attacks in March 2019.

It was just another step towards a fully armed police force and the bottom line was a large amount of money, Tauri said.

“Why is it justified? Have we had a significant increase, for example, in the homicide rate and related murders, for example, with the use of firearms? No, not significantly in the last 20 to 30 years.”

“Has firearm-related crime increased in some areas, yes, but to the extent that that justifies that spending, I think that’s questionable.”

He was also concerned that the Maori would end up at the sharp end of increased police firepower.

“Whether it’s a good thing or not, well, being a Maori scholar and the research that I do, I was always concerned about his rise and his powers and his increased ability to inflict violence against people because we know that it is used so overwhelmingly. against us.”

Former police negotiator Lance Burdett said the new strategy was much better than the ART trial and said it will make hardened criminals think twice in front of any officer.

“It seems much more strategic and technical than the blunt force of ARTs driving large vehicles that want to provoke what appeared to be quite a strong and lethal force.”

The Chairman of the Maori National Authority, Matthew Tukaki, said that the police had consulted him and his organization regarding this model.

He believed that officer training was not only tactical, but also cultural, to prevent Maori from being an unfair target.

“There is also a cultural dynamic, making sure that the police understand and that often the tension between the police on the front line and people of color is that mistrust, so it’s also about building relationships,” he said. .

Auckland Manukau District Councilor Alf Filipaina said it was good that the police wanted inquiries and comments.

Supported the ART initiative.

“If there is an armed criminal in the community, I would like the police to arrive as soon as possible, so that no one from our community is in the crossfire or even gets shot or even killed,” Filipaina said.

Police said they would engage with staff, iwi and the general public over the next several weeks to seek feedback before testing the model and its national implementation.

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