Mosque attacks: Police response on March 15 'exemplary', report finds

Author
Kurt Bayer, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 9 Dec 2020, 2:47PM
Police stand outside a mosque following the attacks. (Photo / AP)
Police stand outside a mosque following the attacks. (Photo / AP)

Mosque attacks: Police response on March 15 'exemplary', report finds

Author
Kurt Bayer, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 9 Dec 2020, 2:47PM

The police response on the day of the Christchurch mosque attacks was "exemplary", but some changes could help improve future responses, an independent review has found.

The deployment of staff after a gunman opened fire at two city mosques on March 15 last year, killing 51 Muslims during Friday prayer, was "rapid and effective", the report out today concluded.

"Police staff acted as quickly as humanly possible given the rapidly unfolding nature of the event, and the information available to us in that very brief period of time," it found.

Six minutes after the first 111 calls and seven minutes after the first shots were fired, the first police officers arrived at the Masjid Al Noor on Deans Ave.

Police launched a review after the Christchurch mosque attacks which left 51 people dead.

They did not know how many gunmen there might be or if any were still at the scene.

Ten minutes later, Senior Constable Jim Manning and Senior Constable Scott Carmody were driving on Brougham St when they saw a car with a plate that matched the one on the alleged gunman's livestream.

They rammed the car off the road and dragged the alleged gunman from the car.

The arrest took place about 18 minutes after the first shots were fired.

'Operation Deans' – the police's response to the terrorist attack was its largest, most complex response operation to date.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said the review was undertaken in light of the magnitude and sensitivity of the operation.

However, the Commissioner also noted that affected families had concerns about aspects of the response on the day which they had expressed to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the attacks.

"We want to be as open and transparent as possible about how we conducted our operation. We haven't released the review until now out of respect for the justice process and because we didn't want to pre-empt the findings of the Royal Commission."

 

The report by the royal commission of inquiry into the mosque attacks, which was released yesterday, revealed "insufficient attention" was given by New Zealand Police over whether one of the killer's gaming friends – who knew about his racist and Islamophobic views - was an appropriate referee for his firearms licence.

The independent inquiry also concluded that police's administration of the firearms licensing system "did not meet required standards".

Coster yesterday "unreservedly apologised" for the firearms licence failures while the royal commission recommended an overhaul of the "old-fashioned", inefficient paper-heavy firearms licensing system.

Police say they intend to engage with members of the Muslim community on how we implement the recommendations.

The review, undertaken by an independent panel, considered the police operational response in the 48 hours following the attack.

The panel consisted of Nick Kaldas, retired Deputy Police Commissioner, New South Wales Police; Michael Heron QC, former Solicitor General; and Jeff Ashford, Director Centre for Lifelong Learning, Victoria University of Wellington.

The authors concluded that police's response on the day was exemplary, however there were improvements that could be made to processes and systems for future operational responses.

The deployment of staff and logistical support was rapid and effective. Police staff acted as quickly as humanly possible given the rapidly unfolding nature of the event, and the information available to us in that very brief period of time.

Family Liaison Officers and Ethnic Liaison Officers were mobilised early in the crisis to support the community.

The authors found that their overall response to families was of a good standard, but noted they were understaffed to respond to the volume and urgency of information requests of families and communities.

"We know this was a deeply distressing time for all the families involved," Coster said.

"We were conscious of these sensitivities and we worked hard to address them."