24 May 2019

Police tell Ōtara community to call out bad behaviour after shootings

6:33 pm on 24 May 2019

Police are telling a South Auckland community recently plagued by shootings and gang violence they should stand up and call out bad behaviour.

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Ōtara has been plagued by shootings and gang violence. Residents aren't happy. Photo: RNZ/ Sela Jane Aholelei Hopgood

There have been more than a dozen shootings in the last year - the most recent being last Friday where a man died on Piako Street in Ōtara.

Residents have been quick to point out that the violence did not paint an accurate picture of their home and questioned what the police have been doing.

Mark Simiona is the operations manager of the Ōtara Health Charitable Trust.

Mark Simiona

Mark Simiona. Photo: RNZ / Jessie Chiang

He was at a hui with local authorities over the weekend and said people wanted to know what was going on.

"[The] community came back and said, 'Look ... how do we know what you're doing and how can you better visualise that to us because we actually don't know what you're doing and ... we're just assuming nothing's being done'," he said.

In a first for the police, officers used Facebook Live to talk to the community as a follow up session.

Area commander of Counties Manukau Police Wendy Spiller said prior to the escalation of violence in the last six weeks, crime in Ōtara had actually been tracking down.

Ms Spiller said a lot of work was being done and staff have recovered more than 30 guns in the area.

There's been a huge amount of [investigations] into the serious offending that's occurred, over 30 search warrants have been executed [and] a large number of firearms and drugs have been recovered," she said.

A community constable is also being reinstated in the area and will start next month.

Otara - Wendy Spiller

Counties Manukau Police area commander Wendy Spiller Photo: RNZ / Jessie Chiang

Ms Spiller urged residents to get in touch with the police if they knew people who were harbouring guns.

"Gang violence and guns are unacceptable and we don't any in any community but particularly in suburban and urban communities," she said.

She said while the police could enforce the law, it was the community that set the standard of behaviour within their own homes.

Mr Simiona agreed that people needed to take responsibility, but he said reporting neighbours and friends was hard.

"Even though we say, yep ... ring up the community constable when he comes on board, ring up the Counties Manukau police, even though we say these are all the places you can go to, that doesn't mean that the people in Ōtara are going to do that people anywhere are going to do that," he said.

"But what we do hope is that the ones who would, do."

The police are hoping to use more Facebook Live sessions in the future to communicate with the community.

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