Police ending Armed Response Teams after trial – Commissioner

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster has today announced that Armed Response Teams will not be part of the New Zealand policing model in the future.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster. Photo: Pool / NZME

A trial of the teams of police carrying firearms ended in April.

Andrew Coster said the decision was based on preliminary findings from the trial evaluation, feedback from the public, and consultation with community forum groups.

“It is clear to me that these response teams do not align with the style of policing that New Zealanders expect,” Coster said.

“We have listened carefully to that feedback and I have made the decision these teams will not be a part of our policing model in the future,” he said.

“As part of this, I want to reiterate that am committed to New Zealand Police remaining a generally unarmed police service.”

Coster said police valued their relationships with the various communities they served, and this meant working with them to find solutions that worked for both.

“How the public feels is important – we police with the consent of the public, and that is a privilege.”

The trial aimed to have specialist police personnel ready to deploy and support frontline staff in critical or high risk incidents, Coster said.

“We can only keep New Zealanders safe if we can keep our staff safe too.

“That is why police has invested in the new body armour system, we have strengthened training, and given our officers more tools and tactical options.”

Police were looking into “broad tactical capability” to ensure critical response options remained fit for purpose, he said.

“We will still complete the evaluation into ARTs and that will now inform the wider tactical capability work programme.”

Any further options arising from this would undergo consultation with communities, Coster said.

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