Amy Wiggins

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

Domestic fights behind Taser fire


Domestic disputes have been the cause every time a Taser is fired by police in the Western Bay.

Local officers have drawn the electric-shock weapons 56 times, but only fired them on four occasions, since they became available to frontline police in March 2010.

Two of the out-of-control domestic disputes involved offenders with weapons. Information released to the Bay of Plenty Times under the Official Information Act revealed Tasers had been fired during disputes once each in 2010 and 2011 and twice in 2012.

Police national operations manager Inspector Barry Taylor said two of the incidents took place in Mount Maunganui, one in Welcome Bay and one in Te Puke.

The four people who were tasered were all men aged between 19 and 31, he said.

One of the disputes took place in the afternoon while the rest occurred between 10pm and 3am.

Mr Taylor said the use of the weapon was effective in resolving all but one of the incidents.

Police involvement in the four situations resulted in one warning and nine charges being laid against the offenders including possession of a knife in a public place, male assaults female, possession of an offensive weapon, assaulting police, resisting police, obstructing police, offensive language and disorderly behaviour.

Regional director for the Waikato Bay of Plenty Police Association, Wayne Aberhart, said he was not surprised to hear all four instances were domestic disputes.

"They are probably very, very hyped up and angry with each other and they are still that way when we get there," Mr Aberhart said. "They are the ones that are completely charged up and they are ready to rumble.

"Most of the time they are not really angry at us but all of a sudden that can change."

Mr Aberhart said domestic disputes were among the most volatile callouts for officers and had been since he joined the police almost 29 years ago.

A success rate of three out of four was a good track record and was preferable to having to use firearms, he said.

"They have a pretty shocking experience for a few seconds but they get up at the end of it and they are fine," Mr Aberhart said.

All police should have the full range of weapons available to them so they could make the correct tactical decision in each situation, he said.

Western Bay of Plenty acting area commander Inspector Karl Wright-St Clair said police were called to about 300 domestic disputes a month. That Tasers had only been used four times in almost two years reflected that officers viewed them as a last resort, he said.

"We attend a large number of domestic incidents every week and the majority of those are resolved without the need for any tactical options, but with them is a high level of emotion," Mr Wright-St Clair said.

"Relatively, given the number of incidents we attend, the fact that a Taser has only been used four times is a testament to the fact that officers prefer to use communication as their first option but on occasion the actions of an offender would dictate that the presentation of a taser might be necessary."

Mr Wright-St Clair said the Taser was a successful tool.

"We attend about 300 calls for service a month for domestics. That's about 3600 times a year we attend domestic incidents in the Western Bay so I guess that puts into perspective the number of times Tasers were used."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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