Time to arm the cops?


Judith Collins thinks it is time to arm the cops.

The sooks disagree, even arts, lifestyle, fitness and travel blogger, David Farrar, disagrees. He thinks it will lead to an arms race amongst the criminal fraternity.

I don’t know what planet he lives on but the criminals are already armed.  Every time there is a drugs bust there are numerous firearms confiscated.

Another issue for police going into violent homes is how to keep themselves safe.

Police will often say that the most dangerous situations for them are family violence calls.

Every kitchen has knives, some homes have guns.

They don’t know what the layout of the home is, how many people are there, what reception they’ll get.

These days front-line police have access to tasers and better access to firearms. As we’ve seen lately, going into a hospital can lead to being shot at.

Even though police have access to firearms in their car lockboxes, I’m concerned that they too often feel that they can’t take them.  

They get concerned at how carrying firearms will be interpreted, whether they’ll be backed by the public, whether they’ll be criticised or disciplined.

We are one of the few jurisdictions when police are routinely unarmed.

Politicians are loath to change that and we say that it’s up to the police commissioner.

Kiwis tell us that we expect our police to not always be armed.

Polling by the police association shows a different feeling from front-line police.

Frontline cops tell me that the world has changed and they’re more inclined towards arming.

I’m saying that if there is the slightest doubt as to safety, then police must be backed to protect both themselves and the public.

As we find from the prevention first policy around recidivist family violence offenders, there’s nothing like being prepared.

I’m all for arming the Police, but I also think that we should bring in stand your ground legislation that allows residents the right to protect themselves with what ever means necessary, even if that means using firearms.

All too often people have called the Police but that 10 minutes or longer it takes for the Police to arrive is too much time.

The problem we see if people do defend themselves is they wind up being prosecuted instead of the trespassing scumbag intent on violence.

If the police are to be armed then at the very least allow people to protect themselves with stand your ground legislation.



– Fairfax


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  • R&BAvenger

    If the frontline police feel it’s time to be armed, then they should be listened to and the government should act accordingly.
    It’s the frontline staff whose lives are at risk every day often dealing with the worst of NZ society, not the lives of opposition MPs and the namby pambies of this world.
    It’s ok to criticise from the safety of your newspaper columns, keyboard or from the safety of parliament.
    Keeping our police safe and giving them the tools with which to do their job effectively is paramount. Arming is a big step, but the Aussies have enough experience with an armed force, so we can be guided by their experience.

  • Kendall

    I agree with arming the police.
    I agree with stand your ground and castle laws being changed.

    My only concern would be to the amount of training needed by the police to make carry safe for themselves and innocent bystanders. The pistol is a weapon that needs constant range and active scenario training to be proficient. At this time I believe police to not get enough opportunity to to that time.
    I question thier choice of pistol, but that might be personal preference.
    The other concern is that the public will need to realise that with any firearm you but be shooting to kill as every event may end in a death. Even a “TV” shot to the hand can end in a bleed out.

  • mommadog

    I agree with Judith and good on her for raising the subject. I think its ridiculous to think that firearms in the back of a police car are enough. When someone is trying to stab you or shooting at you, you cant push the pause button to give you time to go to the car and get the weapon out. Its not a TV show. I lived in the USA and it didn’t bother me the police having arms although there was a reliance on them and lots of local police were very overweight and couldn’t pass a fitness test if their mothers life depended on it. Likewise many kiwis have spent time in Australia in areas with armed police. No problem there. Give the cops arms, give them good training on how/when to use them, keep up the requirements of fitness tests so they can still chase someone who needs chasing and move on.

    • ex-JAFA

      The Ozzies certainly don’t seem to have a problem with cops going around shooting people willy nilly. The Seppos appear to be pretty trigger-happy, and other forces (Greek and French, in my case) can be very intimidatory. And I’ve been on the noisy end of a detective’s pistol right here in NZ, although he thankfully decided I wasn’t a threat.

      So if the police reckon they really need them, and it remains a considerable chore (paperwork, inquiries, etc.) to actually use one, I don’t have a problem with them being carried here. Just so long as they’re a last resort, not a first instinct.

  • BG

    Simple…ask the cops. I have no opinion either way, but if the Police want one way or the other, then give it to them.

    You’d think it’s a workplace issue. Although not in the same context if I require something from my employee to be more effective or efficient at work, be it a laptop, a smartphone or a suitable vehicle then I’ll ask for it and I’ll get it.

    UNfortunately we know this won’t be a workplace issue but a political football.

    • Wheninrome

      This is not the Police’s call we are not a Police State. This is a decision to be made by parliament taking into account recommendations from the Police and others.
      If strong recommendations come through for the Police to be armed then unfortunately it is time to reconsider and amend the law accordingly.
      Society has changed and our Police must have the ability to uphold the law and NZer’s must have regard to the welfare and safety of the Police Officers as they go about this and put their personal abhorrence of firearms aside.
      It will be a sad day regardless.

  • Skydog

    The reason why the police aren’t being armed is due to costs. Cost associated with continued training and costs in training those same officers with the taser.

  • Greg M

    Front line Police should be supplied with whatever tools they need to do the job. They are the ones having to deal with the dregs of society, not the politicians and hand wringers.

  • HR

    I served in the NZ police for 10 years. Not quite as simple as just arming the police. The public would have to understand that the way the police do their job would change significantly once they had a Glock strapped on whilst on duty. You have to change the way you approach things when you have a firearm on for obvious reasons. Also, the face of the police could change. A firearm is a pretty intimidating thing for a lot of people, perhaps the approachability of the police could disappear.

    For my part, I’m a supporter of perhaps arming the NCO or senior person in the incident car, but the training levels currently are not sufficient.

    • symgardiner

      There is some common sense. Well said.

    • bart jackson

      Totally agree. Talked to a current cop on this subject & he didn’t want to be armed full time. He said the same as you that it would change the way they do their job. They would not be able to go hands on the way they do now as there is too much risk of losing their firearm during any scuffle. I think the NZ public would struggle to accept the American style of policing that would result where every slightly suspicious person is at gun point until totally compliant and under control. The other issue of course is that the cost of on-going training would blow the current police budget. There is much discussion in Police ranks already that there isn’t funding for all staff to receive the same training, and therefore levels of access to firearms, that the I-car staff currently have.

      • Citizen

        I’m in Europe, the police all have sidearms. And they don’t point weapons at people to get compliance. They also do get hands on, and I’ve never heard of an officer here losing a weapon during a struggle. Of course they don’t wear quick draw holsters either, it takes a bit of manipulation to remove the gun in the first place. Do cops regularly loose their baton and get attacked with it?

        • HR

          Yep, they sure do. Constable Glenn McKibbin found out the hard way, got bashed to death with his PR24 side handle baton. That’s just one publicized instance, but if you have it, they will want it, and at some point it will be taken from you.

          • Mark

            Sadly I could not remember the constables name & had gone off too Google it & you beat me too it.
            It also highlights the predicament of a Sole Duties officer in a rural area & why they should be armed & trained with the correct mindset. Off to work,stay safe.

          • HR

            Yeah, sad day. Murray Stretch was also rural. He got stomped in the head by an offender who then tried to run him over with the patrol car…

          • Citizen

            And would Don Wilson be alive today if he’d had a firearm?

  • The simple reality is, I’ve never heard of anyone being handcuffed, arrested, tasered or shot for being cooperative and polite… As one is supposed to be to a Police officer.

  • Greg M

    Of course it also goes without saying…don’t break the law and you won’t get shot.
    Forget the Glocks, put a Mac10 in the lockbox.

  • i would much rather read about some scumbag being shot in the morning paper than reading how another police officer lost their life on duty
    Guns locked in cars are not much good

  • Rex

    I believe if the Police rank and file want it then at least debate it! It has to be a major factor for,arming if the rank and file DO want to be armed.

  • Brian of Mt Wellington

    I bet if the Police dept was charged after a cop is injured on the job for Failing to have a safe working place then the Police Commishs attitude would change. Other employers get charged when someone is injured at the work place. It is alright for the wowsers to say but they have them in the lock box in the car boot but when arriving at certain situations they have to go straight in without wasting time opening the boot, the safe and then strapping the gun on, that can waste a couple of minutes which could be critical.
    I agree with HR that the regular firearms training needs more time put into it. The cops spend more time worrying about cultural sensitivity than firearms training. I too spent 15 years in the job but had to medically retire after being permanently injured after being attacked by a drunk driver.

  • dgrogan

    Cops in Australia have carried guns for years. I can’t see it has caused any particular problem for the citizens. In fact, I’d be pretty sure they’d be reassured by the gun-carrying policy round about now, especially.

  • symgardiner

    I strongly disagree with changing to a carry policy for Police. This is for a number of reasons.
    1) As another write stated, it changes the dynamic between the general public and Police. Guns are intimidating. Just like the change to 1km/hr over speeding tickets, such changes can undermine the spirit of community co-operation required for effective policing.
    2) The quality of general Police is inadequate. That poor courier driver in Auckland is a case in point.
    3) Tasers are quite adequate as a regular carry device. If you disagree, try being on the end of one.
    4) NZ is a low gun culture society. This means situations involving guns are not the norm.

    I have no issues with Police having Glocks in the glove box and ARs in the boot. And if there is an assessment that there is a risk of guns being involved then they should be deployed. My only caveat on this is that general Police should be trained to use them properly… not blaze away. Even in the US you see Police discharge a 15 shell clip and the target is barely grazed.

    • Kopua Cowboy

      You have got it- those who have the OK to use firearms are issued about 15 rounds per weapon per year to practice with it.

      • symgardiner

        Should be at least 15 rounds a month with at least annual recertification.

        • Andru

          15 rounds is a joke. In Eric Haney’s autobiography Inside Delta Force he says about his team’s training for high speed entries, “We shot a lot, in fact one time Beckwith was mad when we only shot one million rounds in two months.”

    • Citizen

      Do you know how inaccurate pistols are? Great on the range at 25m with no wind, and all the time in the world to casually squeeze of a few rounds. Nothing like being out of breath, a huge adrenalin surge, and perhaps being in mortal danger, to make that perfect score at the range into a zero.

  • ozbob68

    Nah, just arm Judith.

  • cows4me

    “Time to arm the cops”, I thought they already were. Don’t they carry portable Eftpos machines?

  • Kopua Cowboy

    If routine arming is to happen, then the skills to use these weapons MUST be implemented- as it stands, Police firearms skills are exceptionally poor. For heavens sake, for a civillian to be licenced requires more rounds expended per year than an officer who is supposed to protect the public

    • Every time this subject comes up I recall the police trying to shoot the dog incident, I certainly hope they get some better training before arming is fully instituted.

    • Mark

      It is my understanding that many NYC Police only get access to fire 95 rounds & that due to time/budget restraints any other firearms training must be done on their own time with their own ammo.
      From a PDF report from the Rand Inst.


      Semi annual firearm re qualification NYC Police Dept;

      The semiannual firearm requalification consists of three parts:

      A two-part lecture to remind officers of current safety and tactical issues.
      The first lecture consists of 38 overhead slides that review drawing the firearm,
      fundamentals of shooting, accidental discharges, firearm maintenance, and the
      basics of using OC spray. The second lecture covers department wide firearm-
      discharge reports, use of force, reflexive shooting, patrol tactics, dogs, and firearm

      An opportunity to fire 45 rounds of ammunition at stationary targets at
      7-, 15-, and 25-yard distances. Practice is unscored on a tactical pistol course.

      36 Evaluation of the NYPD Firearm Training and Firearm-Discharge Review Process

      This included firing 50 rounds at stationary targets at 7-, 15-, and
      25-yard distances. A minimum of 39 hits is required to qualify.

  • Andru

    Carrying a gun definitely changes the cop’s attitude. There is less need to be conciliatory and more willingness to escalate. I lived in the US and saw plenty of cops with an overpowering attitude. My US friends were genuinely afraid of the cops. I certainly was.

    • Mark

      You are completely correct Andru,it does change a cops attitude. That is why a public rethinking is required.
      As a control freak myself I have to remind myself to comply with all instructions from the Police,thou I bristle at this.The time to argue is in court.
      My interactions with US Police have been conducted with their desire to control the situation in mind,because I understand this I can,through occasionally gritted teeth,live through the encounter.
      Now if we can get politicians to reform many of the petty,unnecessary laws they are required to police & get them back to core policing,everyone will have more chance of making it home alive.

  • Mark

    If it is time to arm the Police it is time to arm the victims they are responding to.
    My problem with arming the Police is like many others here related to training.access to ranges & ammo & instructors,all of this cost vast sums of money.
    As a taxpayer I would happily pay it,because I do believe it would bring about officer & public safety.
    It is time to have the debate,but until the PR war over rubbish like shooting people in the leg & not shooting unarmed offenders trying to take your gun from you is won it will not have public support.
    Stand your ground would be a good start,certainly long overdue.

    • xennex

      The problem is that any gun right you extend to the general population also goes to the criminal population as well. Background checks etc help to a limited degree. Also consider that more people (kids especially) die from self defense gun ownership that criminals.
      Also I would challenge stand your ground as it can be a get out of jail free card to criminal gangs. Look at the prosecution rate in FL from gang member who were in shootings once they enacted the stand your ground.
      Consider the mis-use of the law, like the FL man who murdered a couple who boarded their own boat the man was renting in order to get rent owed.
      Or the TX man who murdered a prostitute over a money dispute, was was not convicted be he could deadly force to recover property during a nighttime theft.
      I’m not anti-gun, but the law of unintended consequences needn’t apply when other jurisdictions have tried this out already.

      • Mark

        Criminals don’t care about gun rights. However it is for the courts to decide on self defence. Kids die because of irresponsible adults,that is no reason to prevent ownership of guns or cars or alcohol amongst responsible adults.

        Two Florida cases in two years that are maybe flawed,maybe would indicate a dud Judge problem.Meanwhile plenty of other potential victims have been enabled to not become victims.

        Blood in the streets was predicted when Florida let foreign nationals carry to prevent rental car jacking,also when CCW courses were offered to combat a spree of rapes,both times people were protected & carnage did not result.

        “An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.”

        Robert A. Heinlein,

        Beyond This Horizon

        • xennex

          Increasing the availability of guns is not the answer. There’s a reason why the homicide rate in the US is 5 times higher than NZ, and it has something to do with giving a gun to anyone who wants a gun.
          In the US there was a 36:1 ratio of criminal homicides to justified homicides by gun owners (8275:230). Even counting crimes avoided by gun owners (~65,000/year) there’s 30,000 homicides, 20,000 sucides and 1,000 accidental deaths. So for every crime avoided by someone owning a gun someone dies. And that’s not counting injuries – the medical system trauma care is pretty good, so many more are injured and survive than die.

    • HR

      I used to shoot at a range in Auckland. My sisters boyfriend at the time was convinced that police could shoot people in the leg or arm to disarm offenders in situations despite explaining to him that what he saw in movies was fantasy. We ran him around the compound for 10 minutes, made him do press-ups etc so he was puffing hard, then lined him up at 15 metres with a Glock with an instructor screaming in his ear. He missed every shot.
      But he never again moaned that the police should shoot people in the limbs…

  • timemagazine

    Yes, arm the police. We will be safer. All of us. Times have changed, they are worse, so time to arm the police too.

  • Citizen

    I see the negativity on Police arming on here is reasonably ill informed. Remarks like “it changes their attitude” All negative comparisons are examples to u.s Police. Where they have a gung ho gun culture, completely different as to how we act in NZ. Where are the comparisons to the European Police…all armed with sidearms and some even carry HK MP5 sub machine guns. How many innocents are shot across Europe by these cops with attitude and the John Wayne swagger?

  • I.M Bach

    Cops are human and will/do make mistakes, which means that from time to time someone will die from one or more of them making a mistake but the reality is it doesn’t happen very often. Not so long ago two nutters went on a crime spree in the South Island and were brought to heel by armed Police just out of Nelson, resulting in this classic picture of them appearing the newspapers. The cops already have easy access to firearms but ‘situations’ rarely end in shootouts and more often result in the loonies being apprehended successfully. I don’t care if the cops are armed; don’t piss them off and you aren’t likely to get shot. Simple.

  • Deja Voodoo

    If the police were to be armed, it would probably be a good idea to make them wear body camera’s as well so the public and police could review if the use of a weapon was justified

  • Dave_1924

    I’m a sook… no to guns on every officiers hip every day. Not needed and the unintended consequences of accidental shootings and officers being shot with their own guns are not worth it in NZ…

  • 1951

    We need to clean-up the media of editors & producers who think it is their job to ‘bag’ the police at every turn, then perhaps things may change at the frontline. If the use of Tasers was more frequent, the word would go round & maybe there would be less need for either. You only need to climb through the electric fence once to know you wouldn’t like to do it again & and that’s at a much lower voltage.

  • steve and monique

    Arm them, train them well, and let them do their jobs with the knowledge that if needed, the hip is closer then the boot of the patrol car.

  • Dog Breath

    I am not so sure NZ’rs are or will ever be ready to see regular news about Police shootings regardless of circumstances let alone having members if the public doing the same thing. I think the balance is about right now with firearms available to Police when they need them. Instead I would be far happier to arm Police with Tasers.

  • damm good thrashing

    Don’t give the cops guns…..look what happens when they have them….that poor young innocent bystander on the north western motorway….shot dead by a so called police marksman.

  • Kimbo

    The result will remain the same albeit with the odd casualty – Our police catch criminals, our courts set them free.