28 Oct 2020

Northland shooting at officer: Police Association renews call for armed officers

8:40 am on 28 October 2020

The Police Association is renewing calls for officers to be routinely armed after two gunmen shot at an officer in Northland yesterday.

Police generic

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The officer was uninjured but her car's windscreen was damaged.

Police believe a kidnapping and car being set alight in the area could be linked to the incident.

The association said the police community supported routine arming of officers and it wanted that policy reviewed.

It said the shooting was a reminder of the huge number of firearms in criminals hands.

Police Association vice-president Mike McRandle told Morning Report the impact of these types of incidents was far-reaching within police.

"The wider police family are doing their best to help look after her [the officer], including all of our members, the ripple effect when you drop a stone in a pond goes wide.

"I was really thankful nobody was hurt, that is our biggest concern at the moment. That June tragedy is still really live and very clear in our minds.

"However, we've had increasing incidents like this in the last while and it is really concerning to our members the serious criminal element in our society is prepared to use firearms against police."

The windscreen of the police car shot at in Northland.

The windscreen of the police car shot at in Northland. Photo: Supplied / NZ Police

McRandle said in the last six surveys of members, from 2008 and onwards, the percentage of support for arming had increased, with 66 percent of all police members having that view last year.

He also noted that surveys showed more support among the public for armed police, with 55 percent in favour in 2017, rising to 61 percent last year.

Asked whether having a gun like in this latest incident would have helped, McRandle said he could not comment on it, because "that's an operational matter for police".

"The problem you've got is when you're confronted with a person with a firearm and they're prepared to use it, you've got to take something pretty quick to make a good decision to keep yourself safe. That's the ongoing issue that some of our members are starting to face more regularly.

"We're part of the community too, we're part of the community that goes to work each day, puts on a uniform with the best of intentions and does everything within their powers to be safe and make good decisions. One of the most serious simple routine incidents is stopping a vehicle on the side of a road - you just don't know what is in front of you."

A Northland woman said the remote location where the incident took place south of Kerikeri, would have made the ordeal even more terrifying for the officer.

The woman, who did not want to be named, has lived on Puketotara Road near Kerikeri for 16 years.

"They shot at her, which must've been an awful shock for her. It'd be very scary because along this area there's not a lot of houses ... they're back off the road and it's farming," she said.

"So it would've been absolutely terrifying for her and to be on her own ... just one of those little things that you 'think oh my goodness, this doesn't happen out here'. Everybody's the same though, you never think it's going to happen in your own backyard."