On October 19 this year, I wrote a column about the possible general arming of the New Zealand Police and my sad opinion that this may be inevitable.
About the same time, Police Commissioner Mike Bush announced a six-month trial of armed response teams in Counties Manakau, Waikato and Canterbury.
The purpose of the trial of the three-person Armed Offender Squad units in normal street-policing garb is to support the police tactical capabilities on the front line to minimise the risk of harm to both the public and attending police staff.
This concept of armed response teams has been used in several police services overseas, particularly in the United Kingdom with great success, taking the pressure off general duties, normally unarmed police when attending incidents involving firearms being used against the public or police.
I am told New Zealand has the oldest specialist firearms unit in the world, the Armed Offenders Squad, formed in 1964, a year before the Los Angeles Police Department SWAT teams.
Entry to the AOS is extremely difficult and the right to remain in the squad always under review.
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The selection process is long and arduous, involving an initial selection day, a national three-day selection course and then a month-long qualification course.
Only a certain type of cop, male or female, makes the grade in terms of firearm handling, fitness, both physical and psychological and general police experience.
Many applicants are failed during these courses with a few being invited to re-apply once they address certain areas lacking.
All members of the AOS also have "day jobs" in various areas of policing, AOS duties being part-time and as required.
The squads have rigorous ongoing training in firearms and tactics to maintain a high level of expertise.
The standard of firearms training on the squad is now world-class and way above any firearms training provided to other New Zealand police.
Of concern to many, including serving police, is that any first responders to an armed incident are usually not AOS trained staff.
They are often junior staff, many not long out of the police college, some with either a lack of confidence or, worse, an over-confidence when it comes to handling a firearm in a stressful situation.
Some new cops have hunting experience, previous service in armed overseas police or are ex-military so are used to firearms but this is not often the case.
Most people shot by police over the years have been shot by attending police, not AOS, these shootings bought about by the precipitate actions of the deceased when confronted by police.
All police shootings are subject to several inquiries and are treated as any other homicide inquiry by CIB investigation teams.
The shooting cop is regarded as a criminal suspect until proved otherwise. For a New Zealand cop to shoot someone it is personally dreadful as well as absolutely tragic for the deceased and their loved ones.
No matter what the eventual outcome of the various inquiries, it sometimes leads to the shooter choosing to leave the job he or she loved.
No New Zealand cop wants to shoot anyone but some are forced to due to the need to save theirs or others' lives.
The reality today with the huge increase in drug crime any criminal worth his salt has access to a firearm to either protect himself or intimidate rivals and police.
Criminals fire on police more often nowadays than ever, knowing that the police are not normally carrying firearms and that they will need to stop to arm themselves, enabling the crook to escape.
The armed response teams in the trial will be available at the scene of armed crime immediately to back up less well trained staff and to, hopefully, defuse situations before they escalate through their training and negotiation skills.
This is, in my opinion, excellent and far preferable to having an openly armed police service.
To the naysayers who quote 66 per cent of people shot by police being brown, this is a terrible statistic, if true.
Māori make up about 55 per cent of our prison population and also about the same as victims of criminal offending.
Yes, I guess racism exists in the police like any other section of society or work group nowadays, community leaders and parliamentarians included.
Most police are not racist. Sadly attending police do not get to pick the ethnicity of offenders but still have to deal with any situation as it unfolds.
Everything possible is done to prevent tragedy.
I am saddened to hear a respected community leader saying "if you're brown and male you'll soon enough be shot at by police who are 'protecting our communities'".
Many otherwise law-abiding high-profile people in our country, for whatever reason, hate the police. Unfortunately, notice is always taken of their emotive, naïve outpourings.