5,000 signatures reached
To: Rt. Hon. Jacinda Ardern - Prime Minister of New Zealand, Rt. Hon. Stuart Nash - Minister of Police
NZ Police keep the peace - say no to 'Armed Response Teams'
We ask Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister Stuart Nash to resist an increased militarising of police in this country - stop the trial of and commit to not implementing the Armed Response Teams and the further arming of our police.
Why is this important?
Last week, Police Commissioner Mike Bush announced a trial of Armed Response Teams (ARTs) to support Police's tactical capabilities on the front line. Patrols will be trialed in Counties Manukau, Waikato, and Canterbury over the next six months. These squads will be groups of police officers armed with guns roaming communities in SUVs. They way this is described in the words of the Police is “...routinely armed, equipped, mobile and ready...”
The Police have referred to the aftermath of the horrific March 15 Mosque Terror Attacks saying they must be prepared to operate in a different context. Yet after March 15 across Aotearoa we saw people in community vigils singing waiata together for comfort, flowers being laid outside Mosques, and aroha being shown in so many ways including changing some laws. These actions showed us countering terror by strengthening our social connection. In these moments we showed our humanity and that in our communities we all wish to thrive. Looking forward, many of us see our communities are at their best as places of home, of connection, and of coming together. They’re where we develop our sense of belonging.
Putting more police with guns on the streets won’t protect communities or help us feel safe.
Institutional racism within the police means the squads will be more likely to target Māori and Pasifika. Racism impacting use of force by police is already evident. Police are nearly eight times more likely to use violence against Māori than Pākehā, and three times more likely to use violence against Pasifika people than Pākehā. 66% of the people police have fired guns at in the last 10 years were Māori or Pasifika.
There is also evidence of police abusing and misusing access to and use of guns. From official Police information (via OIA), over a seven month period police officers used guns 148 times. These uses excluded Armed Offenders Squad callouts. In more than 1 in 4 of those times, police officers used guns at people who were recorded as being cooperative or otherwise below the level or resistance requiring higher use of force determined by the Tactical Operations Framework.
A study from Princeton University showed that similar ‘Armed Response Teams’ tended to be used most often in non-emergencies such as for search warrants and did nothing to improve community or officer safety. The study also found they were used most often against people of colour.
When we picture flourishing communities, we see families with great homes, enough pūtea (money) to put food on the table, and time to spend with each other. We see support readily available for hard times, and people celebrating together in good ones.
We don’t see more police presence with more weapons. That’s why we are calling on Prime Minister Rt Hon. Jacinda Ardern and Minister for Police Hon. Stuart Nash to stop the trials of Armed Response Teams (ARTs), and end increased militarisation of police.
The highest duty of police officers should be the protection of human life, but initiatives like this do not serve to protect life. More cops with guns means more people shot by police. It's up to us, as responsible citizens, to put a higher value on human life, and to not accept this.
2 https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/on-the-inside/401394/opinion-more-cops-with-guns-means-more-people-shot-by-police Mark Hanna for RNZ. 20 October 2019
3 https://fyi.org.nz/request/5014/response/16479/attach/5/Tactical%20Options%20Framework.pdf NZ Police Tactical Operations Framework
4 https://www.princeton.edu/news/2018/08/21/militarization-police-fails-enhance-safety-may-harm-police-reputation Princeton University. 21 August 2018
https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/te-manu-korihi/401685/armed-response-team-cops-criticism-nothing-good-can-come-out-of-this Te Aniwa Hurihanganui for RNZ. 24 October 2019
How it will be delivered
In person led by Melissa Lama, Guled Mire, Lou Hutchinson and Josiah Tualamali'i