By Imran Ali
A Whangārei man who allegedly shot at police during a pursuit has been remanded in custody while his alleged co-offender was granted bail.
Mikaera Rivers, 24, was arrested late Tuesday following a series of Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) follow-ups across Whangārei, including roadblocks on Station Rd in Kamo, and searches in and around Mander Park.
No plea was taken when he appeared in the Whangārei District Court yesterday on charges of using a firearm against a law enforcement officer, two counts of unlawfully carry/possess a firearm, driving while disqualified, failing to stop for police.
Police withdrew one charge of unlawful possession of a pistol.
His lawyer John Day told the presiding Community Magistrate the best course would be to remand Rivers in custody without plea for legal aid representation to be made
Renee Dunn, 40, also appeared on one charge of unlawful possession of a weapon and another of unlawful possession of ammunition rounds. She is jointly charged with Rivers on those two charges.
Dunn also did not enter pleas and has been given bail to re-appear on the same date as Rivers.
She's on a 24-hour curfew and Legal Aid is expected to be finalised when she next appears in court.
Tuesday's pursuit started when a vehicle with two occupants pulled into a police checkpoint on Te Hononga St in Otangarei at 2.13am but drove off before officers could speak to the driver.
The driver of the vehicle allegedly fired a shot into the air while being pursued and later stopped before allegedly firing multiple shots from the driver's seat.
None of the shots hit the patrol vehicle and the officer was not injured.
Emergency services, including the AOS and dog squad, were called out and a short time later police found the vehicle involved up a driveway on Otuhiwai Cres.
Following the shooting New Zealand Police Association president Chris Cahill said police have agreed the job has become more dangerous for officers.
The flow of weapons into the wrong hands due to theft and with difficulties tracing the movements of firearms has become a key issue for police, Cahill said.
"We know criminals steal their weapons from law-abiding firearms owners."
Cahill called for a review into the accessibility of firearms for officers as a response to the gun-related violence officers are increasingly facing on duty.
"Many of our members feel they need to have better access to firearms," he said.
Currently, most police vehicles are equipped with firearms but officers are not physically armed unless there is a heightened risk, such as the shooting in Whangārei. Cahill said in those instances there may be an order for officers to be temporarily armed and it is constantly reviewed.
The police union has also pushed for a gun registry to better respond to the flow of weapons.
Legislation was passed in June to allow a gun register but Police Minister Poto Williams announced there was no fixed date for any decision or implementation of a register.
Cahill said overseas success stories in areas where gun registers were established showed the number of stolen firearms decreased "dramatically".
For Cahill, adding tools the police can use to keep themselves and communities safe is crucial: "if police aren't safe, the community isn't safe."
Tuesday's incident came just three weeks after two men opened fire on a female police officer just south of Kerikeri. Police are still looking for the occupants of that car.