President's Column - More Assaults on Police

NZPA Police News | Sat May 1st, 2010

“I predict now that officers and members of the public will die because police officers will be unable to respond to an armed offender due to the unavailability of a firearm.”

This month has seen no let up in the assaults on police officers. As we pointed out in last month’s Police News, Crimes Act assaults on police have risen 90.7% in the last  decade, with 412 such assaults last year.

And of course, seven of us have been shot in the last two years.

In New South Wales, South Australia, and West Australia, assaults on police have reduced.

In those states, police officers are armed. Also, we have had more police officers murdered on duty in the last 10 years than the whole of Australia.

The Police Association will be surveying members later in the year to ascertain whether the 50-50 split on general arming has changed since our 2008 survey.

Meanwhile, we are extremely concerned that the differential response model (DRM) will see large numbers of officers either trained only in Bushmaster rifle use, or not trained in the use of firearms at all.

The DRM was created in 2007 before the seven shootings. It is due to be implemented later this year.

All the feedback I am getting indicates a substantial disconnect between Police National Headquarters (PNHQ) and the districts on this issue.

Some of the police officers who will not receive firearms training (especially community constables, youth aid, highway patrol officers, many detectives, OC stations and area controllers) are regularly dealing with the sort of routine policing incidents from which the shooting incidents and serious assaults have arisen.

Also of course, districts are implementing peak load rosters, which see supposed ‘backroom’ officers working shifts to complement the sections.

Frontline level-one responders will receive extra training, and that is a good thing.

The major concern we are hearing is that only level one responders will receive Glock training.

Our research shows that almost invariably, when we are forced to use a firearm, it is at close quarters and pistols have been used.

Virtually every overseas force has pistols immediately available to their officers – the very same forces who are assaulted and shot considerably less often than us.

The policy shift is driven by a lack of training resource. Failure to adequately increase capacity in 2007 is now a major issue.

It is simply unacceptable. The Police Association will be looking at all options to ensure officers are not expected to work in a demonstrably more dangerous policing environment with less training than they received previously - especially firearms training.

I predict now that officers and members of the public will die because police officers will be unable to respond to an armed offender due to the unavailability of a firearm.

I will never be convinced that Jan Molenaar would not have reacted differently, if the officers he confronted in his house had been armed.

The very point being missed by those who say a Taser or firearm would not have made any difference when we are shot or beaten is that offenders react differently if police are armed.

Why else would Australian police officers be so much safer than us?

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