The Police Association is calling for guns on every constable's hip and more training to prepare for greater use of them.
The Government has rejected general arming for the time being.
In its law and order policy document Towards a Safer New Zealand, released today, the association also calls for lighter punishments and greater legal protections for officers, including automatic name suppression for those involved in a fatality while performing their duties.
Punishments for police failures are often over the top and should reflect the "reasonable expectations" on the individual, and ensure that "additional risk-management processes" are not out of proportion.
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"Where an officer is was simply doing their job the best way they knew how, in the circumstances as they presented themselves, the organisation should also support and defend the officer ... from public, media and political pressure," the document says.
Association president Greg O'Connor also warned that putting the squeeze on police resources could have disastrous consequences for public safety.
"A mantra of 'doing more with less' can quickly translate into 'trying to do too much with not enough' by the time you get to the frontline, and that can be very damaging, not only to service delivery but to morale, engagement, and organisational reputation."
The number of people per constable in New Zealand was 498, behind England and Wales (388) and every jurisdiction in Australia, where Queensland (435) is most similar to New Zealand in population size and demographics.
He welcomed police bringing a lock-box of firearms to every frontline response vehicle, but warned there was a risk that these would be too far away to save a life, and officers must ultimately be generally armed.
Policies endorsed by the association include:
* all police constables being armed, fulltime
* training for greater carriage and use of forearms by general duties police
* mandatory vehicle impoundment, licence suspension and possible imprisonment every time a driver flees police
* tighter alcohol supply controls, including the ability to arrest for liquor ban breaches
* allowing recovery of costs for policing public events with a significant commercial element
* reserving the best radio spectrum for police to ensure the best data transmission, including the possibility of live CCTV feeds and mobile fingerprint terminals
* imposing non-contact conditions on remanded prisoners so they cannot intimidate potential witnesses
* empowering police to intervene early before disorder can escalate into violence
"Precursor behaviour may not itself clearly constitute criminality, or might be considered too low-level to justify prosecution," the report says.
"This makes it increasingly difficult for police to intervene to ensure violence and disorder do not break out ... It would be timely to review whether police officers now have sufficient legal authority to intervene early."
The association also called for the urgent passing of the Search and Surveillance Bill to provide a legal framework for police covert surveillance, which was last month found to have no legal basis. Parliament rushed through a fix-it bill to be in place for the next six months as an interim solution until the next parliament can pass the bill.