Auckland Councillor rethinks position on arming police after spate of gun crime

An Auckland Councillor says he is reconsidering a lifelong stance against arming police after an increase in gun violence across Aotearoa.

Manukau Ward councillor and ex-police officer Alf Filipaina told Newshub he never thought he would see the rates of gun crime New Zealand is seeing now.

"There are so many people using and willing to carry firearms. That's the disturbing thing."

His comments follow an alarming incident in south Auckland on Thursday where two people were held at gunpoint in a frightening carjacking.

It's not an isolated incident either - in the last few weeks, a man was shot in Mt Wellington, and another in Rotorua,  two officers were injured during an incident at an Auckland petrol station, two members of the public had a gun held to their heads during a car theft in Penrose, a man was shot and killed by police in Hamilton after a standoff and another officer was shot in the arm during a traffic stop in Hamilton. 

Filipaina says the increase has made him think maybe some police officers should be armed.

"I just believe our police officers that are attending priority one jobs, I really think they should look at carrying firearms with the number of incidents we're seeing across Aotearoa,

"I never thought I'd be saying that."

He says not all officers should be armed - but it's a conversation that needs to be had.

He also added the community should take some "responsibility" for getting illegal guns off the streets.

"I don't think we should always point the finger at the police and the Government and say 'you're not doing this, or that' - come on, you know where some of these firearms are."

"Ring the police, or ring somebody and get them off our streets."

Police Association President Chris Cahill told The AM Show in June the violence is "out of control".

"It's a change in society - it's clear criminals now are very happy to assault and use firearms against police."

He says 1500 officers were assaulted last year, with 350 of those resulting in injuries.

But there are concerns arming police could have disastrous consequences for Maori and Pasifika.

During a 2020 trial of armed response teams (ARTs) Action Station surveyed 1155 Māori and Pasifika people and found 87 percent felt less safe knowing there were armed police in their community and 91 percent would not call the police for help if they knew they had guns on them. 

The ARTs were widely condemned by Māori and Pasifika, who are overly represented in police use of force statistics.