A West Auckland cop who recently left the force says gun violence is becoming the "norm" and some officers' anxiety is going "through the roof".
The former officer, who was only on the force for four years, told the Herald's In the Loop podcast that "gun jobs" had increased during his time on the beat, but family harm call-outs were their daily "bread and butter".
"Gun violence was very prominent in West Auckland… it's starting to become the norm," he said.
"You do feel unsafe at times."
Earlier this year the Herald revealed police carrying out their duties had come across more than 10,000 firearms in the past three years. That data showed police were averaging about 10 firearms each day.
The 25-year-old said while he was an officer it was scary knowing one day he might be at an incident where there was a firearm.
"It goes hand-in-hand with gangs, instead of it being a bust-up or a brawl on the street, it's now someone's brought a gun."
The former officer was working the day Constable Matthew Hunt was tragically shot and killed by a gang member during a routine traffic stop in West Auckland in June 2020.
Hunt's murder shocked the nation. The 28-year-old was the first time a New Zealand officer had died in the line of duty since 2009.
In the aftermath, the man's station was rocked "dramatically" and it made a lot of people not want to go into work.
"No one had been to anything like that. It was really tough to see the station just go hollow. We didn't know if this was just a one-off or something we just had to get used to.
"My anxiety was up, the pressure was on," he said.
The former cop, who is in favour of general arming, moved off the frontline not long after Hunt's death to work in the family harm unit before deciding to leave the police.
He said the pressures of being a young officer as well as the growing toll of attending "high-level jobs" were part of the reason he left the force.
"No one is bringing a knife any more; everyone is bringing a gun.
"A knife I can deal with, but a gun I can't stop."
He said police did not want to shoot as it was "horrible" to let off even one round, but said: "I find it hard for people to critique the person or the police that shoot when they don't know the full facts. And also you have not been in that situation where either a knife is held to you or a gun is held to you. What are you going to do?
"They don't know what that situation is like when you're in a corridor and there's rounds coming down at you."
The former officer said police don't shoot to kill, they shoot to incapacitate.
A report by police last year, after Hunt's death, noted that evidence indicated that routine arming of police could increase risks to public safety and the number of people shot, rather than improving safety of police and the public.
"It is inconclusive about whether it would make our staff safer," the report said.
Last year a biennial survey run by NielsenIQ of almost 6000 Police Association members found 73 per cent support for general arming of the police constabulary, the highest level in a decade.
The survey found one in four general duties officers were threatened with a firearm in 2020, and one in eight officers overall were threatened with a gun.
Police Association president Chris Cahill echoed these figures, but accepted that arming police would come with risk and that would require a considerable amount of increased training.
"We would much prefer and our members would much prefer that the threat of firearms was decreased, so they didn't need to be armed."
An RNZ investigation this year found New Zealand police kill at 11 times the rate of police in England and Wales.
RNZ reported most of those shot by police are Māori, reflecting the fact police use of all types of force - including guns, Tasers and batons - is disproportionately directed at young, Māori men.
Māori men aged 17 to 40 were just 3 per cent of New Zealand's population but made up 34 per cent of use of force incidents by police, it said.
That report said New Zealand police had killed 39 people since 1990, whereas police in England and Wales have fatally shot 77 people over that time - twice as many as in New Zealand but in a population more than 10 times greater than ours.
Cahill said those statistics could not be ignored, but the underlying cause needed to be examined.
"I can think of two big differences compared with some other jurisdictions. One is because police are not generally armed a lot of offenders are surprised when they confront a police officer with a firearm. In Australia you know a police officer has a gun on their hip so you're a lot less likely to approach a police officer in a situation that could get you shot."
"The second issue is the prevalence of firearms and the availability of firearms in New Zealand. We were compared with the UK on the number of police shootings, but the reality in the United Kingdom is it's incredibly hard to get a firearm."