On the positive side, Aotearoa can be incredibly proud of the women and men who make up the New Zealand Police service. Yet again, in the face of extraordinary danger, they stepped forward and demonstrated bravery and professionalism. We saw the world-class service our members have the capacity to deliver to Kiwis in need of protection – from the quick, whole-of-team response of PST staff first on the scene to the specialist squad members who put their lives in mortal danger to contain the gunman.
When New Zealand police were tested, they stood tall and delivered.
However, there is a negative that I believe New Zealanders are increasingly confronted with – the prevalence of illicit firearms. It’s a subject I have raised regularly for some time, and not without reason.
On Thursday, July 20, as commuters were making their way to work in the heart of our largest city, the argument for gun controls and oversight of who has firearms was broadcast live to the nation. To reinforce my argument, I am aware of five more serious firearms incidents across Tāmaki Makaurau in the hours preceding the fatal downtown incident.
It is incredibly frustrating to witness the collective surprise of many commentators about how easy it is for an offender to possess a firearm in New Zealand. Even scant analysis would point to our current situation being the result of years of some of the most lax firearms laws in the world. The price exacted for that is, unfortunately, our safety.
Add to that the idea some politicians want to pare back the meaningful changes we have made to gun control for a few votes in October. This transactional approach to such a critical safety issue is offensive and should be roundly rejected.
The Police response to this critical incident will be scrutinised, as it should be, including the brave call by officers to enter the fray. I will be interested to see if the tactical response model (TRM) contributed to how police responded. I know an offender prevention team (OPT) from Counties was quickly on the scene and I will be keen to know if the improved frontline skills enhancement training helped influence the decision-making of the first staff on the scene.
Recently I had a briefing on the progress of TRM and the overriding principle that the model be consistent across all districts. This pillar will mitigate any tendency for districts to make their own “local improvements” that can result in ill-considered consequences. I am supportive of any changes to the TRM being evidence-based and made nationwide.
I know all members will join me in wishing for a full and speedy recovery for our member who was seriously injured in Auckland and other wounded officers. Our thoughts also go the whānau of those who were killed.