We ask Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister Stuart Nash to resist an increased militarising of police in this country – stop the trial of and commit to not implementing the Armed Response Teams and the further arming of our police.
Why is this important?
Last week, Police Commissioner Mike Bush announced a trial of Armed Response Teams (ARTs) to support Police’s tactical capabilities on the front line. Patrols will be trialed in Counties Manukau, Waikato, and Canterbury over the next six months. These squads will be groups of police officers armed with guns roaming communities in SUVs. They way this is described in the words of the Police is “…routinely armed, equipped, mobile and ready…”
The Police have referred to the aftermath of the horrific March 15 Mosque Terror Attacks saying they must be prepared to operate in a different context. Yet after March 15 across Aotearoa we saw people in community vigils singing waiata together for comfort, flowers being laid outside Mosques, and aroha being shown in so many ways including changing some laws. These actions showed us countering terror by strengthening our social connection. In these moments we showed our humanity and that in our communities we all wish to thrive. Looking forward, many of us see our communities are at their best as places of home, of connection, and of coming together. They’re where we develop our sense of belonging.
Putting more police with guns on the streets won’t protect communities or help us feel safe.