Police Assn: All cops should have Tasers

  • 16/07/2015

The Police Association is calling for a change in policy that would see all officers armed with Tasers.

There have been eight violent attacks on police this month, including one incident where an officer was almost strangled to death, and another incident yesterday where an officer was dragged behind a car.

The influx has prompted discussion around whether frontline police are adequately equipped.

New Zealand Police Association president Greg O'Connor says in an ideal world all officers should have greater means of protection on the job.

"I absolutely want every police officer to carry a Taser," Mr O'Connor told TV3's Paul Henry programme this morning. "Unfortunately many of these beatings our police officers are getting are arising from relatively innocuous pieces of policing… we need every officer out there to have the option of a Taser on their belt right now."

At present, there are 1000 Tasers issued to 5000 police on the frontline, and Mr O'Conner says it's not practical.

"[In] yesterday's example, you can see an officer by himself on a bike, chasing an offender in a stolen car when he got involved in a scuffle which he had to do. The offender was obviously trying to get away. If he had a Taser, he wouldn’t have had to do so.

"It's time every frontline police officer who is likely to be involved in situations like this has a Taser," he says. With the policy change, Mr O'Connor says he'd like to see the façade around the danger of Tasers lifted in the public eye.

He says that, ironically, batons can cause more damage to an offender than their electric alternative and violent incidents are far less likely to escalate with a Taser.

"The time now is for police to stand up and say, 'We've had them, and they are a very safe, effective alternative'."

New Zealand First police spokesperson Ron Mark says the combined financial and psychological cost of policeman injured on the job means arming them with Tasers is a no-brainer.

"It's easy for liberals who have never faced a violent criminal high on drugs to bemoan Tasers, but the fact is they save lives and prevent injuries to officers," he says.

"Violent incidents arise before officers can return to their vehicle to retrieve the Taser, so they need to be carrying them."

3 News/NZN