Police won’t keep Armed Response Teams following their months-long trial

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 9 Jun 2020, 2:02PM
(Photo / File)
(Photo / File)

Police won’t keep Armed Response Teams following their months-long trial

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 9 Jun 2020, 2:02PM

The police have decided not to keep Armed Response Teams - saying they "do not align with the style of policing that New Zealanders expect".

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster made the announcement this afternoon, following a six-month trial that was strongly opposed by members of the public.

Coster said the decision had been made based on public feedback, findings from the trial and consultation with the community.

"Everything we do, we do to keep New Zealanders safe and feeling safe," he said in a statement.

"New Zealand Police values our relationships with the different communities we serve, and delivers on the commitments we make to them.

"This means listening and responding to our communities and partnering with them to find solutions that work for both police and our communities."

He had previously said the trials would only be one factor in making the decision.

"It is clear to me that these response teams do not align with the style of policing that New Zealanders expect.

"We have listened carefully to that feedback and I have made the decision these teams will not be a part of our policing model in the future."

Coster said as part of that he wanted to reiterate he was committed to the police remaining "generally unarmed".

"How the public feels is important - we police with the consent of the public, and that is a privilege.

"For police, the trial was about having specialist police personnel immediately ready to deploy to critical or high risk incidents, to support our frontline staff where they needed enhanced tactical capabilities."

But Coster said police could only keep Kiwis safe if they could keep police staff safe too. For that reason police had invested in a new body armour system, strengthened training and given officers more tools and "tactical options".

The police force was also looking at its overall tactical capacity following feedback from officers, to make sure staff "well equipped and trained to meet all eventualities".

As part of that, the evaluation into the ART trial would still be completed. The community would be consulted on any further developments.