15 Jul 2010

Many examples already of police accessing guns

5:03 pm on 15 July 2010

Police in central Auckland have been given access to guns from their sergeants' cars nearly 200 times in the past two years.

The incident in Christchurch earlier this week in which two constables were wounded and a police dog was killed has re-ignited debate about whether officers should be armed.

Police Commissioner Howard Broad is working on a new policy of putting guns in frontline vehicles. He says the time it takes to get arms, and the authorisation to use them, can prejudice police safety.

Police figures released under the Official Information Act show that 23% of the 2700 police vehicles that could be used to carry firearms already have gun safes.

In the two years to the end of last year firearms were issued 194 times from two Auckland Central sergeants' cars that permanently carry pistols and rifles.

Praised for trying to secure scene

Meanwhile, the two Christchurch officers shot during the brief siege of a Linwood house on Tuesday have been praised for trying to remain at the scene to secure it.

The Canterbury District Commander, Superintendent Dave Cliff, says it now appears that Senior Constable Bruce Lamb and Constable Mitchel Alatalo sought to secure the scene before the Armed Offenders Squad got there.

Constable Alatalo put on protective gear and carried a rifle as he did so, Supt Cliff says.

He says the actions testify to the nature of the officers, who wanted to ensure the public remained safe while an armed offender was still at large.

Both men out of hospital

Both men were released from hospital on Thursday, but Supt Cliff says they have a long road of recovery ahead of them.

Mr Lamb has had reconstructive surgery to his jaw, while Mr Alatalo is recovering from being shot through the thigh. Both are expected to make a full recovery.

A man charged with the attempted murder of the pair will reappear in court in two weeks.