Police Killing Proves Armed Patrols Dangerous
The shooting of a suicidal man in Southland shows that police armament is dangerous, says criminal justice group People Against Prisons Aotearoa. The shooting comes just over a month into the controversial trial of heavily armed police teams in 3 regions around the country.
"The police are totally incapable of safely dealing with our worsening crisis of mental illness," says People Against Prisons Aotearoa spokesperson Emilie Rākete. "People in suicidal crisis, intending to harm themselves, are going to have weapons on them. If the police can't handle these situations without killing that person, they have no business being first responders."
Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson shared similar concerns about armed police patrols earlier this month, noting that armament worsens police violence against mentally ill people.
“Arming frontline cops doesn’t make our communities safer,” says Rākete. “The solution to mental illness is healthcare and social services, not squad cars and assault rifles.”
"If unelected bureaucrats like Police Commissioner Mike Bush continue to push for the militarisation of policing, the police will shoot and kill people more frequently," says Rākete. "More police firearms on New Zealand's streets will mean more police bullets in New Zealand's people."
People Against Prisons Aotearoa is leading the Arms Down campaign to have the armed police trial cancelled and the patrols ended.
"New Zealanders were never allowed to vote on the armament of our police. If we want a say in this, we have to campaign and organise together."
Arms Down is holding a community meeting this weekend in South Auckland, one of the regions affected by armed police patrols, to gather community feedback. The meeting is on Saturday 7th of November at 2pm in the Ōtāhuhu town hall at 10 High Street.