Frontline police report that Taser stun guns have been a valuable addition to their crime-fighting arsenal and officers are keen to see them widely deployed, Commissioner Howard Broad says.
The stun guns were introduced on September 1 for a one-year trial for use in parts of greater Auckland and Wellington before a decision is made on whether they will become a mainstream crimefighting tool.
At a parliamentary select committee meeting yesterday, Mr Broad denied suggestions Tasers were a stepping stone to eventually having an armed police force.
"I do not believe at this point that the circumstances in New Zealand warrant the general arming of police," he said.
But Mr Broad said there was "overwhelming" support for Tasers from those carrying them.
Police elsewhere were anxious to follow suit.
National MP Chester Borrows suggested police were gradually losing their ability to engage in dialogue in tense or hostile situations.
The commissioner admitted that was a trend that was causing concern.
He said such situations were becoming more dangerous for police as weapons became more commonplace in the hands of criminals.
"Fighting with someone now has that added risk."
Assaults on police were increasing and the carrying of Tasers was expected to help reverse that trend.
Mr Broad said since the 180 Tasers were introduced to help crimefighting in the two cities they had been "unholstered" 20 times but had been fired only twice.
Four of the remaining 18 incidents were resolved without further action being needed.
Thirteen other incidents were resolved once the subjects had the visible laser beam on the stun guns pointed at them.
One other situation was resolved before the Taser was fully withdrawn from the holster.
Anti-Taser campaigners and some MPs say worst-case scenarios of Taser use can end in death.