Amy McGillivray

Amy is the lifestyles reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Attacks reignite call to arm police

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A series of serious assaults on police officers recently has reignited calls for all police to be armed.

Waikato and Bay of Plenty police association regional director Wayne Aberhart said the association's policy was to support the arming of all police.

He was spending his annual leave buying and delivering gift baskets to injured officers.

Five police officers had been assaulted in the Waikato since December 22 as well as two Northland officers who were attacked in Dargaville on Christmas Day, Mr Aberhart said.

He said almost 29 years experience in the police had convinced him all frontline staff should carry guns.

"They've got them available in the cars but that for me doesn't do it. You can't go: 'Hold it. Just wait while I go and get my gun'," he said. "It's not going to mean that people are going to get shot willy nilly because police are highly trained and very disciplined."

Police officers have to assess every situation and decide on the most appropriate course of action but they were often limited by the equipment available to them, he said.

"Every officer should have a Taser on his hip. We have tactical options they are your baton, Taser and firearm.

"If you're trained for all three you should wear all three."

By taking away those options you took away an officer's ability to choose the best option and protect themselves, he said.

Mr Aberhart said a change to the law to make the punishment for assaulting a police officer harsher was also necessary.

"The law needs to protect police officers that are assaulted by taking those that are doing the assaulting out of the system."

In one of the recent incidents in the Waikato an officer was called to a dispute over Christmas lights where he was seriously assaulted and repeatedly punched in the head.

Another Waikato constable, who was relatively new to the job, had her ankle broken attending a family violence incident.

On Christmas Day two Northland officers were hospitalised after an attack by a group of youths in Dargaville and another was assaulted while arresting a 17-year-old at a party in Huntly.

Mr Aberhart said the assaults all came down to ill-disciplined people drinking too much for days on end during the Christmas break.

"It's the holiday period and the incidents of domestic violence increase. People can't handle more than two days in a weekend."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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