Association President Chris Cahill says the commitment to improving the safety and capability of frontline officers addresses a problem the association has highlighted for several years.
"This comprehensive and well-researched response to the realities of our current environment recognises the status quo is no longer acceptable," Mr Cahill says.
"Our member surveys have regularly identified the need for more specialist training, particularly firearms training. In our 2021 survey, 64 per cent of members were satisfied with the quality of the training but only 28 per cent were satisfied with the amount.
"A plan by Police to double the training of frontline officers must therefore be considered a serious and well-targeted response to officer concerns. It will have direct benefits for the safety and the skills of those most at risk on the frontline of policing," he says.
The Frontline Skills Enhancement Course, which 780 officers have already been through at the Police College, has been acknowledged by the association as a valuable addition to staff safety.
"To widen the scope of this, and ensure regular refreshment of these skills, is in the interests of the officers, the wider police service and the public," Mr Cahill says.
"The training and deployment of more AOS-qualified staff should be welcomed by communities throughout the country. This will enable highly trained specialists to respond when individuals and communities are put at risk from an escalating threat of criminals with firearms.
"We had very positive feedback from members who had worked with the now-defunct Armed Response Teams (ARTs). Many noted that the ability of the AOS-trained officers in these vehicles to quickly attend and de-escalate high-risk events resulted in less risk to both police and the community."
The association says the initiative to double-crew dog handlers is also an acknowledgement that these police officers are consistently the first deployed into the most dangerous situations and need this increased support and expertise.
This also points to the value of double-crewing as a policy - an area the association would like further research on to understand its value for Aotearoa.
"The association must acknowledge today’s announced plan falls short of the overwhelming call from our members for general arming. Yet it is a significant initiative that we believe warrants buy-in from our members and the public. We are prepared to give this tactical response model an opportunity to deliver what our members so clearly need to police safely without the need for general arming," Mr Cahill says.
"It’s a big ask, but all indications are that Police and the Government are serious about a viable alternative between the status quo and an armed police service."
For more information contact:
Jane Young | Communications Manager / Strategic Advisor, NZ Police Association
Email: [email protected], Tel: +64 (0)4 496 6817, Mobile: +64 (0)27 268 9412