End the Police Armed Response Team trials

The NZ Council for Civil Liberties has co-signed the open letter from Just Speak calling for an end to the Armed Response Teams being trialed by the Police.

Commonsense and innovative approaches to policing, including community consultation and collaboration, will give all of us the best opportunities to live in safe and thriving neighbourhoods. We are calling for no further extensions to the Police Armed Response Team pilot, and a commitment to community-based approaches to policing from the New Zealand Police.

We made our own objections to this initiative in November.

The Council urges the Chief Commissioner to reject these Armed Response teams and to reject the increasing arming of our police. Our police should reclaim the previous practise of leaving firearms locked away until there is reason to believe that they are required.

The open letter makes it clear that arming the Police makes many people feel less safe.

The affected communities were not consulted on the use of Armed Response Teams or the implementation of this trial, and many people within Aotearoa now feel shocked and scared about having Armed Response Teams operating around our country.

We do not accept that the introduction of more firearms into our communities will make us safer, with the increased risks this poses to the lives of our whānau, friends and neighbours during interactions with police. To date, Police have failed to demonstrate that the Armed Response Team trial is grounded in an evidence-informed approach to improving the safety of New Zealand communities.

Furthermore, the open letter states that changing policies around policing must be done in conjunction with the communities that they serve. As we put it it in our November article, "Individual cases are operational, while the general level of arming of the Police is political." The open letter calls on the Police to:

Commence a process to consult communities on what changes are required to make them feel safer and to democratise the policing of communities, with a particular focus on engagement with tangata whenua, Pasifika peoples, targeted communities, those with lived experience and those advocating alongside people with mental illness, disabilities, neurodiversity and young people.

As well as:

Increase transparency around current Police policies and practices and how these are developed and implemented

Let's end the Armed Response Team trial now and stop the slow arming of the New Zealand Police.