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Police are set to get greater access to firearms after two officers were shot and wounded in Christchurch today.

Police Commissioner Howard Broad today said he was comfortable that if police felt they needed weapons when attending callouts, then they should have them.

Dog-handler Senior Constable Bruce Lamb, 51, was shot in the jaw and 39-year-old Constable Mitchel Alatalo was shot in the upper thigh during a routine inquiry at a house in Buccleugh St, Phillipstown, in Christchurch.

A six-year-old police dog, Gage, was shot dead.

The wounded officers managed to escape and call for back up, and the armed offenders squad arrested a 34-year-old man.

Two weapons were found on the property, a .22 rifle and a .308 rifle.

Police Association perspective

Police Association president Greg O'Connor told NZPA today's shooting - the ninth police shooting in two years - showed the current policy on police firearms use was not working.

Frontline officers needed greater access to firearms to protect themselves, and there had been discussions on the issue for some time, he said.

"The time for talking has stopped. We're now at nine police officers shot in two years ... It's unacceptable," he said.

"Whatever we're doing now is not working, so certainly we're going to have more people on the frontline armed."

Mr Broad said the force's policy was under review, with a report due soon.

An updated policy would be on its way to implementation by Christmas, he said.

"We're looking at a situation where those weapons will be available to officers on frontline duty with their vehicles, they're held in secure facilities but available to them should they feel the need."

Police Minister Judith Collins said she was happy for Mr Broad "to come up with some plans as to what can be done".

The review came after police introduced a controversial plan last year, which would have reduced the number of officers receiving firearms training.

The plan would see just two out of five officers able to use firearms - 30 per cent would have been trained in using the Bushmaster .223 rifle, but not the 9mm Glock pistol.

But police put the plan on hold in May, saying further work was needed before it could go ahead.

Mr Lamb required surgery after being shot through the face.

Alatalo, 39, was also in hospital being treated for a bullet wound to his upper thigh.

Officers lucky to survive

Canterbury's District Commander this afternoon said the two policemen came very close to losing their lives.

An emotional Superintendent Dave Cliff today praised the courage of the constables who were both shot when they entered a Christchurch house where it is believed that cannabis was being cultivated.

There were no shots fired by the police. Two weapons were found on the property, a .22 rifle and a .308 rifle.

Mr Cliff said both officers had body armour on, and they had the dog and pepper-spray with them. Tasers were still in the patrol car, he said.

"Both men were calm in the face of an extraordinary set of circumstances. They behaved courageously and did a superb job," Mr Cliff said.

Surprise cannabis discovery

Mr Cliff said the officers were initially sent to locate a psychiatric patient but, unable to locate this person at the property they first visited, the pair then went to a nearby house where they noticed a strong odour of cannabis.

Police then searched this house and one person was taken away, however another person in the house came out armed and the police officers were then shot at inside the house.

- with NZPA, NZ Herald staff