Police escalate arms race without oversight
GLOBAL PEACE & JUSTICE AUCKLAND
14 June 2008
arms race without democratic oversight
It’s all in the timing!
Today’s announcement in the New Zealand Herald that police are proposing trialling fully armed mobile patrols in Auckland is another blow to New Zealand’s democratic control of the police.
The announcement has been clearly timed to cash in on the public outrage at the callous brutality of the murder of Navtej Singh in Manurewa last week. The community is right to be sickened at this senseless killing but a kneejerk reaction to permanently arm police patrols is opportunistic and short-sighted.
Police are insisting this is an operational decision for them alone. No public consultation, no independent scrutiny, no political oversight. We reject this outright.
The police must work for and with the community. Arming the police is a community decision because all of us will have to live with the consequences.
Safeguarding the police and the community is best served by careful, independent, democratic oversight of decisions about the arms police carry.
The police in New Zealand must not be a law unto themselves as they are in many other countries with disastrous results for the police as well as the community.
Let’s not learn the wrong lessons from this tragedy. The death of Navtej Singh would not have been prevented by an armed patrol. Prompt access to the dying man by ambulance services may have.