Single AOS base to be in Hastings

By Kaysha Brownlie kaysha brownlie@hbtoday co nz

2 comments
STANDOFF: An Armed Offenders Squad member during an armed standoff in Frasertown earlier this year. PHOTO/DUNCAN BROWN
STANDOFF: An Armed Offenders Squad member during an armed standoff in Frasertown earlier this year. PHOTO/DUNCAN BROWN

Response time will be longer when the Hawke's Bay Armed Offenders Squad is centralised in Hastings, but the same level of service will continue.

Inspector Geoffrey Jago, Commander and Operations Support, confirmed the Hawke's Bay Armed Offenders Squad was in the early stages of plans to relocate its base which is currently split between two locations to one centralised point.

Currently Napier and Hastings both have an AOS base which members can go to depending on the location of the callout.

But once the process is complete the new Hastings station will become the base so even if the callout is in Napier members will need to first travel to Hastings, from wherever they may be, and then, in some cases, back-track to the Napier location of the callout.

"The same levels of service will continue," said Inspector Jago.

Police Association vice-president Luke Shadbolt said AOS members were involved in the decision-making process and were aware response times could take longer with the new location.

New Zealand Police Association president Greg O'Connor said AOS in Hawke's Bay could not be compared to any other region because the two cities were so close together.

"I've spoken to a number of members from Hawke's Bay, particularly those in Napier in light of the Napier Hill siege. The fact that Napier people were able to get there so quickly probably prevented further deaths."

He said if squad members had needed to get from Hastings to Napier there could have been a different outcome.

The siege happened in May 2009 when Jan Molenaar shot three policemen, one fatally, and a neighbour.

Mr Molenaar's body was found in a bedroom of a Chaucer Rd house when the siege ended after more than 40 hours. Police had been carrying out what was a regulation drugs raid.

The AOS were able to respond to the callout in just 11 minutes.

The new Hastings station is expected to be completed near the end of next year while Napier was also getting a new station built.

Mr Jago said the decision for the relocation was made in consultation with Operations Support at Police National Headquarters following a review and evaluation of Hawke's Bay AOS.

"Factors which contributed to the decision include operational command and control, lessons learned from previous operations, and health and safety considerations.

"There is no change to squad numbers or to AOS resources in the Hawke's Bay as part of the move."

The move was estimated to be at least a year away.

Despite being further away, the new unit will have a new squad room with "distinct advantages".

Mr Jago said AOS teams, by nature, were highly mobile, trained and equipped to respond to armed incidents which may unfold anywhere at any time within their district at short notice, so their physical location was not considered a significant issue in responding to events.

He said the nature of AOS roles had also changed with squads often responding to pre-planned operations, which lessened demand for responses to emergency armed incidents.

"Frontline police staff, who are often the first to attend armed incidents, are also very well equipped to deal with a range of situations they may be confronted with, and our officers have better access than ever to tactical options such as Taser and firearms."

Mr Jago would not release the number of AOS members for safety and security reasons.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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