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New Zealand plans armed police patrols after Christchurch massacre

23 Comments
By Praveen Menon

New Zealand officials said on Friday armed police will patrol parts of the country in a trial project following heightened security concerns after a mass shooting in Christchurch in March that killed 51 people.

New Zealand, like the United Kingdom and Norway, is one of the few countries where police do not carry guns while on general duty. However, hand guns, rifles and tasers are kept in their vehicles and can be used with a supervisor's permission.

Serious crime is relatively unusual in New Zealand, although frontline police were armed for several weeks following the massacre by a suspected white supremacist at two mosques in Christchurch on March 15.

The attack sparked a debate on whether all police should carry fire arms.

"Following the events of March 15 in Christchurch, our operating environment has changed," Police Commissioner Mike Bush said in a statement on Friday.

"Police must ensure our people are equipped and enabled to perform their roles safely and to ensure our communities are, and feel, safe. This means having the right people with the right tools, skills and knowledge ready to respond at all times," he said.

The Armed Response Teams will be rolled out in Manukau county in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, and Waikato and Canterbury on Oct. 28 on a six-month trial.

They will be routinely armed, equipped, mobile and ready to support frontline police officers at incidents that require enhanced tactical capabilities, Bush said.

He said there was no immediate threat.

Australian national Brenton Tarrant has been charged over the attack in Christchurch, New Zealand's worst peace-time shooting. Tarrant has pleaded not guilty to 92 charges against him and faces trial in May.

Threat levels have been heightened around the country since the Christchurch attack and 1,400 firearms have been seized from offenders since March.

Police Minister Stuart Nash said the move did not mean that police would be armed routinely.

"The three areas have been selected for the trial because of the incidence of crimes involving armed offenders," Nash said.

"Police turn up to some callouts with no knowledge of what they are walking into. Every month police turn up to 200 incidents where a firearm is involved," he said.

New Zealanders must have a gun license to own a firearm. There are an estimated 1.5 million guns in the country.

The government banned military-style semi-automatic and other high-calibre guns within weeks of the Christchurch shooting and also introduced a gun amnesty scheme. More than 29,000 firearms have been collected so far, according to statistics provided on the police website.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

23 Comments
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disarmng the populace, arming the police. police "visits" to people whose politics displeases Jacinda. NZ.

-8 ( +6 / -14 )

The common people of New Zealand are going to pay the price for letting the politicians over-react to one Australian scumbag.

There are many who will relish this foot on the path to becoming a police state.

-1 ( +10 / -11 )

As they pointed out in the article, handguns and rifles are already kept in the patrol cars, and police almost never patrol without their cars, so they've already had firearms available to them for years, they just weren't usually carried. So, no real big changes there. As for the gun law changes, semi-auto shotguns of the type used by the duck hunters, and semi-auto rimfire rifles are still allowed, as are all bolt action rifles. The international media have at times overstated the extent of the gun law changes, to make it sound like NZ outlawed most guns. It's really just centre fire semi-autos that have been removed.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Norman Goodman: Are you saying that countries where police carry guns are a  "police state"? If this is what you are saying, most of the globe is a police state.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

kiwi07: Excellent posting, informative.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

rlperez@hotmail.com.au you completely misunderstand what I am saying. Its not the changes, its the REASONS for the changes. They are jumping at shadows and that will lead to jumping at more shadows. The slightest advancement in police power over a non-existent threat is a very dangerous precedent.

If this is what you are saying, most of the globe is a police state.

More are than is commonly acknowledged. Many others are clearly but slowly moving that direction. People always expect a sudden, shocking lurch into authoritarianism but that's not usually how it works.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

The common people of New Zealand are going to pay the price for letting the politicians over-react to one Australian scumbag.

The price being a better prepared and equipped police force? Oh no!

a non-existent threat

"Police turn up to some callouts with no knowledge of what they are walking into. Every month police turn up to 200 incidents where a firearm is involved," he said.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The trial is going to be circus where trolls will be unleashed...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@kiwi07

Thanks for that. Ignorant rightists who couldn’t find NZ on a map will be squealing about disarming the people. They are like pull toys.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

The article is not well researched or written at all.

As Kiwi07 has correctly pointed out, NZ police almost always have access to firearms in their vehicles, but just do not patrol with them on the hip unless there is period of special concern. This isn't changing even in the areas where the trial is being undertaken.

When a firearm is involved with an incident, NZ Police routinely call for backup from the Armed Offenders Squad (AOS). These are regular police, who are called off front line patrolling (or are on standby), return to base, and suit up with specialised equipment and weapons to deal with the situation, before heading out to the the scene.

The only change that is occurring as part of this trial, is that to reduce the response times, AOS members will be on the road armed with all their equipment ready to respond immediately if they are required. This saves a trip back to base and pulling staff from regular patrolling.

Normal NZ Police are still not patrolling armed. Nothing has changed,.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

They'll probably have different lettering and colouring on their AOS police cars.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A necessary move in light of the threat from the far right, incel insurrectionists and ammosexuals who prey on people because of perceived "otherness".

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

The police should be armed. However, the public should not be. “If hubs are outlawed, only the outlaws will have guns.” This statement is very true and how it should be. The public does not need to be armed. The police do need to be armed.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Toasted Heretic:

Thanks and no thanks for alerting us (me at least) to the existence of the word "ammosexual".

As for other posters claiming armed police patrols are a lurch into authoritarianism - in democracies like NZ and Australia, police with guns are used for combating crime, not the politics of the citizenry.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Norman Goodman: Are you saying that countries where police carry guns are a "police state"? If this is what you are saying, most of the globe is a police state

No, which was painfully obvious to anyone not looking for an excuse to be offended..

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

ammosexual

Word of the day.

JT should have a word of the day section.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Two thumbs down already.

Looks like some ammosexuals aren’t happy.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

No more use of the word "ammosexual" please.

Will this really help combat the lunatics? The police in the US are armed to the teeth but that doesn't prevent their weekly mass shootings.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

New Zealand, like the United Kingdom and Norway, is one of the few countries where police do not carry guns while on general duty.

These days there are thousands of highly armed police officers on the streets of Britain and around sensitive sites like the House of Parliament.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Zichi, while there are a few areas where armed police are or are kept close by, mainly in London, the vast majority of police still are not armed or have guns in their cars. The most they carry is an extending baton. And the police themselves do not want to be routinely armed.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

englisc aspyrgend

Zichi, while there are a few areas where armed police are or are kept close by,

I am a Brit and yess the majority are armed but thousands are and there are cars carrying guns. Not as innocent as before. There are about 7,000 fire armed trained officers. There were just over 122,400 police officers in England and Wales at the end of March 2018 and about 5% of them were firearms authorised.

So like I said there are thousandds of armed police.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As for other posters claiming armed police patrols are a lurch into authoritarianism

That is downright hilarious in light of what I said...being the one to actually use the term "lurch". Read it again:

People always expect a sudden, shocking lurch into authoritarianism but that's not usually how it works.

This is not a lurch and that's not how the shift to authoritarianism works. Like many, you seem to insist on ignoring the warning.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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