Outspoken former Labour MP turned radio talkback host John Tamihere has rubbished the Maori Party's claims that the introduction of tasers will result in racial targeting.
Speaking on Eye to Eye with Willie Jackson on TV ONE on Saturday morning, Tamihere said there was no doubt tasers would be used more on Maori and Pacific Island people but this was just because they were over-represented in crime statistics.
“… We have a greater propensity [for criminal offending] whether we like it or not, but that is the reason why it [the taser] will be used in our communities, and that is not a reason why it shouldn’t be used. What these people should be talking about is how we lessen our conduct that brings us to the attention of the criminal justice system rather than putting all the onus on the use of a tool in the tool box.”
Tamihere was responding to comments from fellow Eye to Eye panelist Maori Party MP Hone Harawira, who opposes the introduction of tasers to New Zealand. Harawira said he had figures showing that 66 per cent of the cases where the Police had used pepper spray were on Maori or Pacific Island people, and the figures would end up being similar for tasers.
Also on the panel, Green Party police spokesman Keith Locke said one of the problems with the introduction of tasers was that they would end up generating more hostility towards police and make difficult situations even more violent.
“What tasers do is increase the level of violence in policing. It increases the level of acceptable violence in society and that’s what has happened in America and that’s what we are doing, we’re going down the American track where the increase in weaponry and violence leads to more assaults on police.”
Locke said he was worried that the continued trial of tasers, or their use nationwide, would reduce the effectiveness of police.
“The way you stop criminals is to have a very good relationship between the police and the community and the taser will get in the way of that, it will create anger, it will reduce cooperation and increase the violence against police.”
Eye To Eye with Willie Jackson will be repeated on TV ONE at 11pm on Tuesday.