Expect to see more armed police on the streets of Hawke's Bay and Bay of Plenty over the next few days.
The community can take reassurance from this. It is a temporary measure. Police are responding to the latest flare up in gang rivalry competing for a slice of the drug trade.
Expect to see police openly carrying their Bushmaster rifles and Glock pistols. Expect to see police wearing their new body armour. Expect to see the Eagle helicopter in the air. Expect to see police executing search warrants at gang properties and stopping vehicles carrying gang members and associates.
We are not only putting record numbers of police on the frontline, almost 2000 new officers to date, we are giving them new tools and legal powers to keep the community safe.
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We have a special Gang Focus Unit in Hawke's Bay that has one job – hold criminals to account and work long term with the community to prevent offending.
In just six months it has arrested more than 100 gang members. It has seized dozens of illegal firearms. It has seized more than 1kg of methamphetamine. It has seized more than $250,000 in cash, dozens of vehicles and tens of thousands of dollars in other assets as police go after the proceeds of crime.
What's happening in Hawke's Bay is happening all around the country. Since March last year police have seized more than 2000 illegal firearms from gangs and other criminals. Violent extremism in all its forms, whether patched gang member or race supremacist, will not be tolerated.
But we plan to go further. We need tougher penalties for gun crime. People who supply guns to criminals need to be held accountable.
At the moment the penalty is very weak. But not everyone in Parliament is on board. The Opposition is trying to block these changes. I call on them to reconsider.
We also need to better track firearms through the community with a gun register. I want to know who sold these guns to gang members. How did they get hold of them?
The 25-year-old gang members getting arrested today were drifting teenagers when the first Australian gang, the Rebels, arrived a decade ago.
The following year National cut police by 150 officers. It will take time to build up those numbers again. Those teenagers also faced poverty, mental health and addiction issues, and unemployment. The gang problem is more than a police problem.
Since 2015, more than 1800 offenders have been deported from Australia. These returning offenders are bringing a level of professional organisation and business skills to the meth trade which has not been seen before.
In April last year a police operation against the Comancheros involved search warrants at seven houses, the seizure of almost $4 million in residential properties, Harley Davidsons, Range Rovers and a Rolls-Royce.
In September Customs and police made the largest ever seizure of methamphetamine at the border when almost half a tonne was found.
Since 2017 police have also seized cash and assets of more than $100m from gangs. This sends a powerful message to gangs that crime does not pay and they will not profit from their offending.
But let's not kid ourselves it's only people wearing patches who are driving this. Recent meth busts have involved the arrest of business professionals like lawyers, accountants, real estate agents, sports stars, media personalities, as well as foreign nationals from the UK, Canada, and Australia. Their money laundering and other activity enables gang offending.
You will hear a lot of big talk and slogans this year about crime. Dig a little deeper. I can confidently say we are the true party of law and order.
Police need the community's help to make a difference.
Please call them if you have any information about gangs, drugs or firearms. It can be reported via the 105 number. Information can also be provided to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Anyone with immediate concerns for their safety or the safety of others should call 111.
Stuart Nash is the MP for Napier and the Minister of Police.