The Police Commissioner’s overnight decision to introduce tasers amounts to nothing more than taunting MPs with the possibility that consultation on the latest weapon in the police arsenal would actually mean something says Maori Party MP Hone Harawira.
“Two years ago I registered a Notice of Complaint with the Human Rights Commission and our Party President, Whatarangi Winiata and I have been involved in a mediation with the Police over the taser gun trial” explained Harawira.
“The Maori Party does not believe that a heavily armed police force is an effective strategy to inspire public confidence in the police or to protect public safety”.
“We must be bold and intelligent enough to create strategies to achieve safety – other than just upping the ante, creating a designer Robocop and running the risk that civilians will get caught in the shoot-out” said Harawira.
“We believe that policing in Aotearoa would be safer for the public and the police alike, if defusing problem situations was a key policing skill, and a priority in the ongoing training of frontline officers”.
“The Commissioner’s rebuke that he saw no need to change his mind because “nothing new emerged from the debate in Parliament” is highly offensive” said Mr Harawira.
“Sure – inadequate consultation may not be new; lack of Ministerial leadership and accountability for policy directions may not be new; disproportionate targeting of Maori and Pasifika communities may not be new – but it doesn’t make it right either”.
“The Maori Party believes that the ministerial statement on the deployment of tasers stun-guns was nothing less than a desperate plea by the Commissioner for his Minister to step forward and take responsibility. Instead she passed the buck”.
“Instead, it appears Sherriff O’Connor has won the day”.
The attitude expressed by Mr O'Connor on behalf of police officers seemed to be one of incredulity that the public and their representatives in Parliament should even be involved in decisions about what force the police should be allowed to use” said Harawira.
“All that today’s announcement suggests is that the cops are a law unto themselves – and I guess for some New Zealanders they’ll be saying, ‘and what’s new about that?”.