Hon Ron Mark, New Zealand First List MP based in the Wairarapa
New Zealand First MP Ron Mark today welcomed the scrapping of the Police Armed Response Teams and is now calling for an independent review into why frontline police officers are being armed with military-grade assault rifles.
“It’s time to reconsider the decision to put military grade assault rifles into the hands of frontline police in the streets of suburban New Zealand, says Mr Mark.
“In light of global events, and the fact that we’ve just confiscated all the semi-automatics across New Zealand, let’s have a rethink. We strongly believe police are inappropriately armed against the reduced threat of a disarmed public,” says Mr Mark.
Mr Mark is concerned frontline officers are poorly trained in weapon handling skills and is aware that officers have raised their own concerns regarding training being dismissed at the highest levels.
“Even our military cadets go through more rigorous training than frontline police officers.
“We’ve always held concerns with the creeping militarisation of the police force given the Government already has multiple layers of armed response, across agencies.
“Frontline officers have the ability to be armed at the discretion of their immediate supervisors. They can also call on the Special Tactics Group and the Armed Offenders Squad. They also have the ability to call on Defence if necessary,” says Mr Mark.