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NZ Police abandon Armed Response Teams

Written By: - Date published: 7:05 am, June 10th, 2020 - 9 comments
Categories: activism, community democracy, Disarmament, greens, police - Tags: , ,

Green Party press release

Greens welcome police ruling out of Armed Response Teams

The Green Party is welcoming the police’s decision to rule out any extended use of the Armed Response Teams (ARTs) which were recently trialled in Aotearoa.

Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson said today:

“Together we pushed for it, and we got it. The decision of police to rule out the increased use of Armed Response Teams will mean our communities are better off.

“This is something to celebrate. We commend the New Zealand Police for listening to the public outcry during and after the ART trials. They have listened to the community, and made the right call.

“This decision today reinforces the need for people to make their voices heard. We know that people of colour, in particular black and brown communities, do not feel protected with armed police on patrol. We are pleased the police have listened to their voices.

“We also thank the grassroots organisations who spoke out against the trial, to ensure better protected communities.”

Green Party Justice Spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman said:

“This decision today to rule out the adoption of ARTs is a big step against the American style militarisation of our police force. It is a step towards an Aotearoa where we all feel better looked after.

“The Green Party will continue to raise the voices and experiences of our marginalised communities in Government, so we are all protected and free from discrimination.

“We do not need patrolling armed police in New Zealand. This is the right decision from the New Zealand Police.”

From Stuff,

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said on Tuesday Armed Response Teams (ARTs) would not be part of the New Zealand policing model in the future, following a six-month trial.

The decision not to roll-out ARTs has been made based on preliminary findings from the trial evaluation, feedback received from the public, and consultation with community forum groups.

Coster told Stuff it was clear from the feedback, including 4000 letters in the last week, that there was not support for ARTs as something that aligned with the style of policing people wanted for New Zealand.

“We have a model of policing by consent and that means we need the vast majority of people to see as legitimate the style in which we’re policing and it’s been clear to me that there has not been acceptance of this as an appropriate style of policing in New Zealand.”

No Right Turn,

A victory for public safety

The Police have today announced that “Armed Response Teams” – gangs of heavily-armed police cruising Māori-Pacifica neighbourhoods in juiced-up gun-trucks looking for people to shoot – will not be part of policing in New Zealand. Good riddance. Their “trial” was a bad joke, and really just an excuse to intimidate the public with gun-toting cops (who mostly did traffic stops). But the change in Commissioner has led to a change in policy, with Andrew Coster recognising that policing in New Zealand happens by consent, and waving guns around erodes that consent.

But while this is good news, the fact that this “trial” was even run was appalling, as is the fact that the politicians meant to be supervising the police let them pass it off as an “operational matter”. There needs to be accountability for that. And the police still have pistols and assault rifles in every car, with few limits on their use. That needs to change. As for how, Parliament can and should legislate to restrict the ordinary use of firearms to designated specialist units, and implement safeguards and oversight of their use by other officers, including Ministerial signoff and Parliamentary veto for any temporary general arming of the sort we had in the aftermath (rather than immediate response to) the Christchurch Mosque attack (thanks to Graeme Edgeler for the details beyond the first bit of this). And they should implement better oversight of “non-lethal” weapons such as tasers and pepper-spray, to require regular pro-active publication of information on how they are used, and mandatory use-of-force reviews of officers who use them (or any other form of force) too often, with an eye to sacking or desking officers who cannot be trusted. Because as we’re seeing from the regular IPCA reports, police are increasingly abusing force. As they are incapable of holding one another to account, Parliament needs to.

9 comments on “NZ Police abandon Armed Response Teams ”

  1. Joel Walsham 1

    This truly was very well run organising by People Against Prisons Aotearoa who led the ArmsDownNZ campaign.

    While it may seem like this was a product of this particular moment, the ArmsDownNZ campaign engaged a whole lot of previously un-politicised young people for some months throughout the trial and in the lead up to this decision. The visible parliamentary support from the Greens was great, but there is no doubt that community organising won this and lays a path for some successful leftist organising in the future.

  2. Tricledrown 2

    National trying to have a bet each way on law and order .

    Under the Key govt they cut police numbers by 800.

    Roading police by 225 when the number of cars on the road doubled.

    Now the raptor teams.

    • tc 2.1

      Yes and you never hear the media asking national about the slash n burn in police V their tough on crime spin then and now.

      Toddy better school up on his own party's 3 terms with the wrecking ball.

      Most have seen their impact in health and education but wait there’s so much more.

  3. Maurice 3

    Now to remove 6,000 "evil" Assault Rifles and as many or more deadly Glock pistols from the streets?

  4. miravox 4

    This is not a victory yet. As No Right Turn says, arming police should not be an operational matter.

    NZers need to aks political parties their views on a law change to prevent arming police without oversight. The Graeme Edgler link in the post gives some views of what amendments to the policing legislation might look like.

    It's not often we go into an election with arming the police as a decisive issue. We have the an opportunity this year to pressure political parties to make their views on a law change to prevent armed police units clear. Otherwise these units are off the table only as long as the current Police Commissioner remains in the job, or until (a seemingly unlikely event) he changes his mind.

  5. RedBaronCV 5

    It was never ever a good idea so needed to go. But more worryingly this yet another example of police "policy or actions" overstepping any democratic or society norm.. It's as if we have had recruitment of groups who have backgrounds in armed, over policed authoritarian states who are happy to be racist and who think the rules don't apply to them.

  6. greywarshark 6

    This is good news – the dropping of this armed police model recently trialled.

  7. UncookedSelachimorpha 7

    National's "Strike Force Raptor" garbage just seems so infantile and clueless. How about coming up with something factual and not off some violent B-movie?

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