Police Armed Response Teams will not continue
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster has announced that Armed Response Teams will not be part of the New Zealand policing model in the future.
The six month trial of teams of police carrying firearms were launched in Counties Manukau, Waikato and Canterbury last year and ended in April.
The decision not to roll-out the teams has been made based on preliminary findings from the trial evaluation, feedback received from the public, and consultation with community forum groups, says Coster.
“Everything we do, we do to keep New Zealanders safe and feeling safe.
“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 says.
I have previously said that the evaluation would only be one factor in our decision making, says Coster.
“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.
“As part of this, I want to reiterate that am committed to New Zealand Police remaining a generally unarmed Police service.
“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.
“We can only keep New Zealanders safe if we can keep our staff safe too.
“That is why Police has invested in the new body armour system, we have strengthened training, and given our officers more tools and tactical options.
“Having listened to feedback from our people through the trial, we are also undertaking a programme of work looking at our broad tactical capability to ensure our critical response options remain fit for purpose.
“Through this work we will continue to ensure our staff are well equipped and trained to meet all eventualities.
“We will still complete the evaluation into ARTs and that will now inform the wider tactical capability work programme.
“Any options that come out of that will be consulted with our communities to ensure we take a collaborative approach to policing in our communities.”