Waatea News Column: Armed police trial a terrifying failure of public policy


The results from the armed Police trial have been made public and the numbers suggest a terrifying failure of public policy.

The idea behind armed roaming Police units made sense.

In light of white supremacy terrorist attacks and escalating gang violence driven by imported Australian gang members, the argument to have a roaming armed Police squad who are well trained to respond immediately makes sense.

Previous to this, AOS call outs required AOS members to be pulled from front line service to converge on HQ and gear up from there. That takes time.

If a situation unfolds with guns, you want well trained armed Officers responding as quickly as possible.

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So far, so good.


The fear was always mission creep. That these armed roaming Police units wouldn’t be used for just armed events, that they would start being used for anyone who they thought had a weapon or any event that could have a heightened risk element attached to it, or even basic policing.

And what have we seen?

The numbers are damning.

The AOS were deployed 488 times in 2018-2019.

In the 5 weeks of the trail, these armed roaming units were deployed 2641 times!

That is a terrifying failure of public policy.

To allow Police to escalate using armed police in such a grotesque manner is a recipe for disaster, especially when you consider that the Independent Police Conduct Authority came out earlier this month complaining they weren’t resourced enough to investigate police abuse of power.

The one watchdog over the Police is so underfunded it can’t keep the Police accountable at a time when Police are ramping up their powers.

Research tells us Māori and Pacifica have the most to fear from Police shootings in NZ, public policy has an obligation to provide basic rights and agency to every one of us, not entrench bias and empower it!

Stop these armed police units now.

First published on Waatea News.


  1. Why did it come to this?
    Personally, I think the answer is pretty bloody obvious and hopefully that commission of inquiry will get to the bottom of it (not holding my breath, although there is hope)

    Outwardly, if you listen to the spin merchants – several agencies have had the shock and kick up the bum they need – but then there are so many agencies who’ve been regularly kicked up the bum that they’ve lost all feeling in the nether regions

  2. Police should be at hospitals helping with violence there, not it being left to security guards. This is a public amenity, they should not have to hire security. WTF is going on in people’s heads. Security available all the time, but not to take 100% responsibility. As soon as there is unrest a call should go to police for immediate attention. Get police away from the roads and chasing cars. I doubt if there is much that happens at night that isn’t exacerbated by police presence.

    This about Waikato hospital from mid last year from stuff: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/114093515/hospital-guard-assault-more-training-and-buddy-system-at-waikato-hospital
    As a Waikato Hospital security guard recovered from repeated blows with an oxygen cylinder, her employer and the DHB were talking training….
    The guard was seriously assaulted by a patient who cornered her in the early hours of May 15, when she responded to a call for security.
    Almost two months later, she is out of hospital and recovering at home, her union said, but will need more surgery.

    The figures for the new police unit with guns show that there is overuse, and the police are already people for all the public to fear with their draconian powers, which have resulted in intrusion into ordinary citizens lives because of the drive to prevent crime which makes them suspicious and hyper-alert. If decreasing crime meant they worked with youth building social responsibility in the young people it would have some positive affect, but NZ is too punitive. If we did care about our nation, we would see a different approach but it’we are too materialist and self-oriented.

    Let’s get the guns back to the boots where they belong 90% of the time. Have training to ensure that Aramoana* doesn’t happen again which will remain for ever in police memory and should also in that of the public. Get the mental health units set up again, away from the prisons but at the same time really secure, and let Maori wardens work with the inmates again to bring them back to being persons again, not drifters. And improve the prisons; no double bunking.

    And then the amount of armed police callouts would lessen, not stop, but go down. Crime has gone down apparently but you wouldn’t know that from the media – studies last century show how it feeds on crime, and grows it; loves it, notice how Radionz was giving every detail about USA slaughters, what the Sheriff, onlooker, sister of the victim, taxi driver said. Sickening. Not so much lately but not sure if they have changed.

    * This was done in the past. Can we do better now? https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=1792419 A 2002 report ‘Camouflaged ‘ghosts’ the police elite ‘.

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