National leader Judith Collins has called for Police Minister Poto Williams to be sacked over her response to questions about arming police officers.
Collins made the call after Williams was interviewed by Newstalk ZB about National MP Simeon Brown wanting to bring back Armed Response Teams (ARTs), which were trialled last year and discontinued.
Williams was asked if she agreed with a statement issued by the group People Against Prisons Aotearoa after Police Commissioner Andrew Coster confirmed ARTs would not go ahead.
"We are committed to disarming, defunding, and abolishing the bloodstained, racist institution of policing and replacing it with community justice," spokesperson Emilie Rākete said at the time.
Williams said she was "not giving them the time of day", referring to People Against Prisons Aotearoa's statement, but she did not condemn Rākete's words either, which Collins says is unacceptable.
"The interview was a train wreck from beginning to end and quite frankly it is time the Prime Minister steps in to replace her with someone who is capable of advocating for and caring about police officers."
Williams could not be reached for a response when Newshub contacted her office.
The Police Minister told Newstalk ZB she was concerned about Māori and Pacific communities, with regard to arming police.
"The Māori and Pacific communities told me loud and clear that the general arming of police, and particularly the ARTs, are a real concern to them.
"I'm speaking for the Maori and Pacific communities for whom their interactions with the police over the years have not been that great.
"For me, we have some great things in place. We have access to weapons, there are lock boxes in police vehicles."
Collins said Labour is out of touch.
"Labour makes the mistake of thinking they speak for all Māori and Pasifika people when they say they have listened to the 'communities'. No ethnic group is a monolith and in my electorate of Papakura I am hearing that my multi-cultural constituents support the police and want them to be able to sort out gang members.
"This cannot go on. Labour has to get real about crime and about empowering the police to do their job. This nonsense of making the police the 'bad guys' is creating a more tense and hostile environment which inevitably leads to more dangerous altercations.
"It is not good enough to continue with the status quo. It is time for action, Prime Minister."
Collins, a former Police Minister, told The AM Show the Government cannot ignore recent gun violence.
The Police Commissioner himself says violent criminal behaviour directed at police is ramping up like never before, and police are concerned about an increase in gun incidents and offenders being more willing to use them.
Collins wants ARTs back.
"We had the Government basically pushing around the police and getting the Police Commissioner to stop that trial when it was clearly needed - and we're seeing the results of some of that now."
The Police Commissioner has previously said ARTs were scrapped following feedback from the community.
"Rubbish," Collins told The AM Show. "I represent the Papakura electorate - have done for almost 20 years. People there don't like the fact that they have to live next door, in some cases, to armed gang members.
"They are actually wanting the police to be able to deal with these people and you're seeing police officers shot in so-called routine traffic enforcement."
Collins described the Police Commissioner as a "very pleasant, nice, decent person" but said he was "a long way from the front-line".