Violence against police prompts more firearms training, tactical response team

Police are scaling up firearms training and will create a new tactical response team in response to increasing violence against officers.

More police will have armed offender squad training following a $45 million Government investment in frontline officers’ safety.

They will be rostered on to double-crew dog handler teams and bolster planned operations to arrest high-risk offenders and combat organised crime.

The proposed model means more than 200 additional police officers will be qualified at the armed offender squad standard.

The new initiative comes as frontline police officers are increasingly facing threats of violence against them, prompting growing safety concerns.

The $45 million investment includes $15.496 million in new funding for a new Tactical Response Model, the expansion of the Frontline Skills Enhancement Course, and an additional 78 sworn staff and 28 intelligence analysts.

Police Minister Poto Williams said she wanted to be clear the new Tactical Response Model was not armed response teams.

“These officers will wear standard police uniforms, drive standard police vehicles, and will not be armed in their day-to-day duties.

“They will support frontline investigation and prevention teams and will focus on high–risk offenders, firearms, methamphetamine, and organised crime groups.”

Williams – who is opposed to the routine arming of frontline staff – said she wanted every police officer to get home safely to their family at the end of the day.

“We can never eliminate the risk from policing. But this funding will go a long way to ensuring our officers are prepared and supported in their work”, she said.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said frontline officers were increasingly facing threats from those willing to use violence against police.

“Our frontline officers operate in a dynamic and unpredictable environment and are often called to put themselves in harm’s way to keep the public safe.”

Increasing the number and availability of staff with Armed Offender Squad training would significantly improve frontline capability.

Coster reiterated these staff would not be armed in their day-to-day duties but would have immediate access to tactical options if the situation required it.

New positions are planned to be created so that dog handler units operate as a two-person dog team.

This would increase the day-to-day safety of handlers who will no longer respond to high-risk incidents alone.

The extra staff with armed offender squad training would also be used as part of existing investigative units which are primarily focused on planned operations to arrest priority and high-risk offenders and combat organised crime.

These specialist teams would also be available to support frontline staff if called on to respond urgently to high-risk incidents.

The additional 78 constabulary staff will back-fill the positions left by existing police officers moving into these roles.

Police will engage with staff, iwi and the wider community over four weeks to seek feedback on the model and make any refinements.

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