The protest—and subsequent occupation—was a difficult and complex event to police and is unprecedented in our recent history. It is appropriate that the Police response was independently reviewed. Valuable lessons were learnt and, most importantly, have already resulted in enhancements to how Police will prepare and manage such incidents.
Most New Zealanders will have vivid memories of the Police operation to end the occupation on 2 March 2022. The level of extreme violence police were confronted with by some protesters who chose to abandon the rule of law was unparalleled.
The key finding in the Authority’s report—that despite facing extreme provocation, Police acted professionally, with remarkable restraint, and the tactics they used were justified—demonstrates the outstanding response from police officers on the ground that day.
The Police Association acknowledges the professionalism our members displayed while under violent attack and at serious risk to their safety. Over 150 police officers suffered injuries in the conflict, some of these serious and long term. All officers can be proud of their actions on 2 March, a day that will be remembered as one of the most significant in New Zealand’s policing history.
The association is supportive of the 14 recommendations in the report, most importantly the supply of and access to appropriate equipment to enable staff to be deployed with maximum safety. It was unacceptable that some officers were put at risk due to a lack of equipment.
It is good to see that Police has responded to this recommendation with the recent purchase of more equipment and research into what equipment is appropriate and available across all districts. It is imperative staff have access to the best safety equipment when deployed in public order policing operations.
The need for a renewed focus on public order policing is also supported by the association, as over time this training has become ad hoc across districts and in some areas, nonexistent. Police must ensure it maintains capability in this area by having experts in planning, training and deployment for such events.
The association will be monitoring the Police response to all the recommendations in the IPCA report and will hold Police to account over the implementation of them.
Police News June 2023Police News MagazineNZPA