In recent years, the police hierarchy has focused on the wider picture of what causes crime, and worked through the issues behind offending.
One key strategy, although not officially launched or announced to the public, was implemented in 2019 as an attempt to reduce demand for drugs while investigating the criminal networks that supply them.
Referred to by police as the "Resilience to Organised Crime in Communities", the strategy wasn't widely reported until it was detailed in documents obtained by the Herald under the Official Information Act.
It's true that meeting the challenges of rising gang membership is not just about locking up the patch-wearers who break the law but also addressing the wider social issues that lead people to take up a patch. It is also important to at least know what is driving massive surges in drug use, while cutting supply lines and heading off the wider crimes associated with the illicit trade.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster has led the more holistic approach in schemes such as Te Pae Oranga Iwi Community Panels that have been set up in 20 locations to encourage offenders to address their problems as part of the redress for their crimes.
However, what we are seeing on the streets of Auckland clearly needs a stronger response.
Five incidents involving gunfire were reported by late Tuesday night in Papatoetoe, Ōtara, Flat Bush, Papakura and Te Atatū between about 6.40pm and 9.20pm. Shots also rang out in Mt Albert and Henderson yesterday morning.
Police yesterday confirmed what this newspaper had reported earlier. This is an all-out turf war between the Killer Beez and Tribesmen motorcycle gangs. These factions have drawn firearms on our streets over deep-seated and personal vendettas at the leadership level.
The Killer Beez began about two decades ago as a youth feeder street gang for the Tribesmen in Ōtara, but relations between the groups soured as the Killer Beez gained strength and influence.
The gangs were entrenched in mutual enmity after the shooting of Killer Beez president Josh Masters by his former friend, Tribesmen sergeant-at-arms Okusitino Tae, in 2019.
Masters was paralysed in the shooting but remains prominent at Killer Beez patching ceremonies and motorcycle runs. Tae pleaded guilty to a charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2020.
There have been several public flare-ups involving shootings and beatings in the ensuing years, including in Ōtara late in 2020 and in Kaikohe this year.
Before these latest shooting incidents, police were preparing a crackdown on gangs in Auckland. Operation Cobalt will start shortly with a ring-fenced group of staff pooled from the Auckland, Counties and Waitematā police districts.
Other police districts will also set up units focused on "suppressing, disrupting and enforcing" unlawful activity by gang members, in a crackdown that will be co-ordinated nationwide by a senior detective.
Whether the gang leaders care about their members or not, enforcement will ultimately hit their own homes in police reprisals unless they de-escalate the trouble. Either resolution can't come soon enough.