Tasers in every car - new police chief

By Derek Cheng

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall wants more access to firearms for police. Photo / Greg Bowker
Police Commissioner Peter Marshall wants more access to firearms for police. Photo / Greg Bowker

Within months police can expect an easing of restrictions for using Tasers and greater access, including one in every frontline vehicle, under new Police Commissioner Peter Marshall.

He also supports more access to firearms, tougher penalties for those who assault police, and a jail term for every time a driver flees police.

But Commissioner Marshall, 57, who started a three-year term this week, is against the general arming of police, even though it is supported by the Police Association.

"It may come in the future, but nothing I've seen at this stage suggests to me that the public or police are going to be safer through general arming," Commissioner Marshall said.

"What is likely is that more people will be shot by police under circumstances where other tactical options may or may not have been available."

And after critical reports last year into police culture, he put under-performing managers on notice.

"If we have people not doing the job, but more importantly, poisoning or influencing younger members, I'll do whatever I can to move them out."

Tasers were only in 26 per cent of frontline vehicles, and officers had to gain permission via the communications centre to use them.

"I would like a bit more flexibility in terms of the discretion of the officers. For instance, if they were going to a domestic dispute, take the Taser just as a precaution," Commissioner Marshall said.

"I'm not talking about having it worn all the time. But when police officers are going into a difficult situation, it makes great sense to me to take the Taser with them ..."

He also supports a police proposal for lock-boxes in every frontline vehicle.

"If any police officer needs a firearm at any time, day or night, for operational reasons, he or she shall have it. [At present] only about 26 per cent have lock-boxes. I would like to see all operational vehicles with the ability to have a rifle, a glock, a Taser and ballistic armour. I don't see any sense in [police] having to wait for another car to arrive with that equipment, or indeed for members to have to go back to the police station, as has happened."

The commissioner also supported greater penalties for assaulting police officers, even though the number of assaults had not risen much in the last 10 years.

"But the seriousness of the assaults has, and that is of considerable concern. I would have absolutely no sympathy for someone who gets a slightly higher penalty for assaulting police."

He supported a "short, sharp period of incarceration" for drivers fleeing police, as well as licence disqualification and the car being confiscated.

Drivers face a possible three-month sentence if convicted for a third time of failing to stop, but Police Minister Judith Collins has not ruled out a possible jail term for every offence.

NEW POLICE COMMISSIONER PETER MARSHALL

On access to firearms: "If any police officer needs a firearm at anytime, day or night, for operational reasons, he or she shall have it ... I would like to see all operational vehicles with the ability to have in the vehicle a rifle, a glock, a taser and ballistic armour."

On tasers: "I'm not talking about having it worn all the time, but ... I would like a bit more flexibility in terms of discretion of the officers. For instance, if they were going to a domestic dispute, take the taser just as a precaution"

On general arming: "It may come in the future, but I've seen nothing at this stage that suggests to me that the public or police are going to be safer through general arming. What is likely is that more people will be shot by police."

On assaults on police: "I would have absolutely no sympathy for someone who gets a slightly higher penalty for assaulting police."

On jail for every instance of drivers fleeing police: "A short, sharp period of incarceration, from my point of view, I would welcome it."

- NZ Herald

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