New Zealand Police Association president Chris Cahill says Wednesday night's car chase in Whangārei where officers were allegedly shot at points to the great risk posed by vehicle stops.
About 11.30pm, police attempted to stop a speeding car in Ōtangarei before it fled and a pursuit began. During the chase, several gunshots were fired from the vehicle at the following police and the pursuit was abandoned.
However, police managed to locate the car in Onerahi and it was successfully spiked.
The pursuit was re-engaged and a further two shots were allegedly fired at police. The vehicle eventually came to a stop on Tarewa Rd and the two occupants of the car were arrested. There were no injuries.
A firearm was found in the vehicle. Two men, aged 23 and 24, were expected to appear in Whangārei District Court today on a variety of charges.
Cahill said police across New Zealand stopped about 3000 vehicles every week and Wednesday's incident indicated how dangerous vehicle stops could be.
"You just never know when it's going to turn into something like this and the problem is when you're stopping [the car], you don't know who's in it," Cahill said.
"You've got to make those split-second judgments to pursue or not to pursue, and then when it escalates to the level of shots being fired, you've got to weigh up your safety versus the risk to the public if they get away, so [it's] a pretty traumatic situation all round."
A video was taken of the scene at Tarewa Rd where officers arrested the two men. In it, it featured what appeared to be an officer using multiple swear words, directed at the men as the officer demanded they get on the ground.
Cahill said the officer's language must be considered in the context of the situation.
"The adrenaline is pumping, without a doubt," he said.
"Perhaps, if everything was perfect, we'd rather it wasn't the language used, but the reality is it's not a perfect situation.
"Yes, they are trained and professionals, but that doesn't change the fact that they are also human."
Cahill commended the officers involved for resolving the situation with no injuries.
"In the end, the result is the key and they've got a good result with dangerous offenders in custody, no one injured, but [there's] still a fair amount of luck involved when shots are fired, they could end up anywhere."
Jayden Jameson, who captured the video of the arrest, was woken by the police chase at about midnight and went to the driveway of his property to see the arrest unfold.
"It was a little bit chaotic, loads of yelling and understandably the officers were pretty aggressive," Jameson said.
"It was a little bit scary. I was just hoping [the offenders] wouldn't run, I was ready to make a beeline back to the house."
A man, who wished to remain anonymous, said he first saw the fleeing vehicle in Onerahi as it was travelling about 120km/h in a 50km/h zone with no headlights on.
"From Onerahi, [the car] came back into town then went out to Otaika and Raumanga Heights, you could actually see the red and blue lights going up and down the hill," the bystander said.
He said the chase moved north through Kamo and Tikipunga before travelling down Bank St, where it was travelling about 60-70km/h with two tyres still intact after being spiked.
Northland District Commander Superintendent Tony Hill said it was an extremely dangerous incident and he ensured that the officers involved were well-supported.
"It's completely unacceptable for our staff, who leave their families every day to come to work to keep our community safe, to allegedly have a firearm discharged at them a number times," he said.
"Their welfare is our priority and they are being well-cared for by their colleagues and the wider organisation."