Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Shooting Reinforces Case Against Tasers & Guns


Police shooting reinforces the case against tasers and guns

The police killing of a man armed with a hammer in Christchurch provides powerful evidence against further arming of the police either with guns or tasers.

There are enough undisputed facts in the public arena to know this situation should not have ended in a man’s death.

There has been a clear trend over recent years for the police to resort to force much too quickly. The more arms the police have the less likely they are to use tact, diplomacy and commonsense in defusing difficult situations.

The Police Association says that had the police officers in Christchurch been armed with tasers they could have avoided the use of lethal force. This is not true. The taser was never to be deployed as an alternative to guns. It was proposed as an alternative to pepperspray or batons.

This is cynical, opportunistic use of a man’s death to try and justify arming the police to an even greater extent than present.

We can readily predict the outcome of the police investigation. They will deem the man acted in self-defence no matter what eye-witnesses say because they will say that in the police officer’s mind he “thought” his life was at risk and that is enough for self-defence. The Police Complaints Authority likewise will clear the officer.

The police will once again investigate their own with only a nominal oversight by the under-resourced and ineffective Police Complaints Authority.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

In the meantime the case against arming the police with tasers or guns is strengthened by events in Christchurch. Here are seven good reasons:

(1) They both encourage a culture of violence in policing: The taser introduces another element of violence into the relationship between police and the general public that we don’t need. We have a long history of relatively unarmed police which has served this country much better than the culture of heavy violence which exists in policing in the home of the tasers – the US. Our police and our community are safer as a result.

(2) Safeguarding the police: As more violent methods of policing are introduced then it is very easy to see the responses from people in the community as becoming less respectful and more violent as well. Police in the US are at far greater result of injury and death than police in New Zealand and we should aim to keep it that way.

(3) Safeguarding the community: We all appreciate the police often have very difficult situations to handle and they deserve community support in facing these situations. However we also have some of the most vulnerable members of our community who also face very difficult situations and struggle to cope. We have people facing acute mental health crises and with often little backup to support them to cope in the community. A few years back a neighbour (of GPJA spokesperson John Minto) with mental health problems had an argument with his flatmate and as a result went round the house ranting and raving and smashing windows at 3am. When the police arrived they handled the situation really well. They were respectful and professional. They calmed him down and called in mental health support. That wouldn’t happen today. He would be peppersprayed, tasered or shot.

(4) Police inability to follow guidelines: Pepper-spraying was introduced into New Zealand some years back and is being used “willy-nilly” several times a day around the country. It seems clear that pepper spray is increasingly used as a first resort rather than as a later resort. Just having it readily available means the police will bypass other options much more quickly and the guidelines for its use become increasingly irrelevant. In the Stephen Wallace shooting for example while the police officer was acquitted of the charges laid against him, the police involved did not follow their own procedures about the use of firearms. Likewise in the case of the just completed taser trial. Even from the limited information available in media reports it is clear the police did not follow their own guidelines on a number of occasions.

(5) Tasers and guns are lethal: The overseas evidence is overwhelming. Tasers have become a first option in many policing situations in North America and the death toll is rising rapidly. More than 167 people have died after being tasered in the US and Canada since September 1999. A full list of these deaths and the circumstances is on the net. The taser corporation and police say in most cases these people died due to a pre-existing medical conditions or because of involvement with drugs. However it’s also clear when you read the circumstances of these deaths these people would be alive today had they not been tasered.

(6) Community control of police powers: Police are given very broad powers of arrest and restraint on freedom. It’s very important that the community retains democratic control and scrutiny of police activity. There are plenty of examples around the world of police forces that have become a law unto themselves and are outside effective democratic control. It’s our job to ensure this doesn’t happen in New Zealand.

(7) Police priorities: Public confidence in the police has taken a real hammering over recent years with police at the highest levels charged with rape, fraud, theft and violent offences. The police priority must surely be to rebuild community confidence and trust rather than see it eroded further.

ends


© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On The Perils Of Joining AUKUS Pillar Two


The lure for New Zealand to join the AUKUS military alliance is that membership of only its “second pillar” will still (supposedly) give us access to state of the art military technologies. As top US official Kurt Campbell said during his visit to Wellington a year ago:
...We've been gratified by how many countries want to join with us to work with cutting-edge technologies like in the cyber arena, hypersonics, you can go down a long list and it's great to hear that New Zealand is interested...
More


 
 

Government: Backs Police To Crackdown On Gangs
The coalition Government is restoring law and order by providing police new tools to crack down on criminal gangs, says Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith and Police Minister Mark Mitchell. “Over the last five years gangs have recruited more than 3000 members, a 51 per cent increase... More


Government: Retiring Chief Of Navy Thanked For His Service

Defence Minister Judith Collins has thanked the Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral David Proctor, for his service as he retires from the Royal New Zealand Navy after 37 years. Rear Admiral Proctor will retire on 16 May to take up an employment opportunity in Australia... More

Government: Humanitarian Support For Gaza & West Bank

Winston Peters has announced NZ is providing a further $5M to respond to the extreme humanitarian need in Gaza and the West Bank. “The impact of the Israel-Hamas conflict on civilians is absolutely appalling," he said... More


Government: New High Court Judge Appointed

Judith Collins has announced the appointment of Wellington Barrister Jason Scott McHerron as a High Court Judge. Justice McHerron graduated from the University of Otago with a BA in English Literature in 1994 and an LLB in 1996... More

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels


 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.