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Is this the result of arming the Police?

  • June 10th, 2008

If it takes the Police 28 minutes to arm themselves while the victims are telling them the robbers have already gone, lets go back to unarmed Police.

At least then they were willing to be as brave as the victims.

The same brave cops who won’t front without their armour and guns tell people they must not protect themselves, so they face evildoers unarmed and helpless.

And the consolation prize is a promise “there’ll be no stone left unturned to catch them”. Too late, always too late.

Where is the precautionary principle when its needed? As I said yesterday as soon as the news broke, this will turn into a scapegoating exercise at a local level. 

Political and Headquarters heads should roll, not the poor cops who’ve been emasculated by them.


  • jcuknz
  • June 10th, 2008
  • 9:02 pm

On the nail Steven.

  • Mike mckee
  • June 11th, 2008
  • 1:13 am

but will political heads roll?

  • Chuck Bird
  • June 11th, 2008
  • 1:38 pm

Stephen, both articles were excellent. I heard Rob Pope interviewed on Holmes. He fudged things as much as possible but the clear message I got was that the police would review the incident but not review their stupid policy.

As a taxpayer I expect the police and other emergency services such as fire to take reasonable risks to protect me or my family. Ordinary members of the public do this sort of things frequently individually or part of a group such as coast guard or search and rescue.

If they police continue with this policy of expecting to be 110% certain the offender has gone before they allow medical personal to assist a seriously injured gunshot victim they have no right to complain when the public do not come to their assistance when they are in trouble.

I have heard many times that the police usually carry firearms in the boot of their car. Would anyone know if this is the case? If it turns out they had firearms and still would not check if the offender had fled that would make matters even worse.

I see now that the police are to be given more powers to throw men out of their homes. Perhaps that could be another topic.

  • Chris McKay
  • June 11th, 2008
  • 6:31 pm

It is somewhat disturbing to read and listen to ‘the experts’ on this subject given their obvious lack of experience in these situations.

To Chuck Bird….you need to take your slippers off and get out into the real world.

I am an Advanced Paramedic with the Ambulance Service and this has been my career for over 30 years. I take a risk every time I walk into a violence situation, and that Chuck Bird, is close to every day I attend work.

I can’t even remember the amount of times I have been into supposedly ‘safe’ situations where the offenders have reportedly left the scene only to find them still present. And yes, I have been assaulted as a result, likewise the Police. Quite a number of years ago an Ambulance Officer was killed while driving his ambulance to attend the victim of a violent crime. From what I recall he was intentionally hit by the offender leaving the scene.

To even suggest that the Police or any other emergency care worker go into a situation where a gun has been produced and used without ‘proper’ protection is not an indictment on police, it is an indictment of the society in which we live. Are you all so naive as to think that the offenders who are willing to shoot someone, in cold blood as it transpires, wouldn’t do it again if they came across a policeman in their midst? Who’s to say they have all left the scene? Are they waiting around the corner? Out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind or gone, it means more risk. At least if they are still on scene you know where they are.

I have attended many Armed Offender incidents and have the utmost of faith in the Police, the management of the scenes, and the time it takes to enact and secure a scene. I, along with almost every other ambulance officer in this country, would not even contemplate entering this situation until the police had secured it, and ensured our safety. And trust me, 28 minutes is not long at all.

I actually find it quite offensive that so many people, supposedly learned, are ready to jump on the blame bandwagon when in reality they wouldn’t even know danger if they fell over it, as they’ve never experienced it. Maybe they should, that’d sure shut them up.

Let’s not forget, the Police didn’t shoot this vistim, the criminals did.

Well done NZ Police, keep up the good work in keeping me and my family safe.

My condolences to the family of Navtej Singh for your loss.

[Thanks for this thoughtful comment Chris. Of course care is needed. But I’ve had other messages of encouragement from people with practical involvement. I suspect that some differences in perspective could reflect where the officer serves. In some areas the level of experience, and the workload, mean that police on the spot can just apply common sense, and as long as it works, there is no problem. The problem arises when a risk assumed goes wrong, then the officers concerned are harried for not being cautious enough. That is wrong.]


‘Emasculated’ is a good word Stephen for that gear them cops have to wear. A law needs to do physical exercises just before he puts it on, just unless he crush under the weight. So muckh gear around your waist dude you can’t remember where your GPS system is..

  • Chuck Bird
  • June 12th, 2008
  • 11:59 am

Chris, in case you are not aware this is a blog and no qualifications are necessary. I very much doubt if you have any idea of my life experience or job experience. I will not bother stating then as I do not think they are relevant. With respect, I do not think your job experience is as relevant as you seem to think it is so let us deal in facts and logic.

I trust you read Steven’s other post, “Institutional Cowardice” where he points out similar situations here and in the UK. Do you maintain that police acted correctly in all these cases as well?

Let us get back to the current situation. It is of course possible that offenders hated police so they would come back after a time and get in a shoot out with the police. Anything is possible but the chances would be pretty remote. There have many armed robbers in the past few years. I have never heard of the offenders returning to the scene or lying in wait to shoot police officers attending the crime scene. If you can give such an example I will reconsider my position.

Failing that their policy in such situations needs to be reviewed independently. The police should be required to render assistance unless there is a reasonable likelihood that they or medical staff will be at risk. Like many other members of the public I do not believe that there was a significant risk. You are entitled to your opinion as I am to mine as a taxpayer. I expect better. I would be interested in the views of other ambulance officers that you claim to speak for.

  • Chris McKay
  • June 12th, 2008
  • 11:09 pm


  • Chris McKay
  • June 12th, 2008
  • 11:23 pm

Detective Constable’s Duncan Taylor and Jeanette Park 5th July 2002


I’m losing respect for this line of apology for the indefensible.
Neither of the cases you cite were robberies, and neither of them had people inside assuring the cops that the offenders were not there.

  • Chuck Bird
  • June 13th, 2008
  • 2:47 pm

Stephen, would you have access to the written policy for police in these situations. This should be made public as well as the written review of the incident. I would like to know if the police on the scene had access to a firearm in the boot of the police car and were waiting for the armed offenders squad.

The following link is to an excellent opinion piece by Garth George on this topic

  • Jim Maclean
  • June 19th, 2008
  • 8:24 pm

Chris it seems to me you are on the wrong side of this debate. Since you have given your name and occupation I will give mine. I am an SSO in the Fire Service currently riding in charge of Rescue trucks as I have done for over thirty years. I have acted as an executive officer and liaised closely with Police in many situations including armed offender incidents, nevertheless I speak for myself only on this issue.
I am confident that eventually an enquiry will show that the Police misinterpreted sound principles and this led to inappropriate actions. I agree that ambulance staff should be kept out of harms way until Police have ensured the scene is safe enough for their attendance but initially this is not what the Police did.
Police comcen staff had multiple calls saying that a man had been shot in a robbery and the offenders had fled the scene. Comcen staff can (as you know) call back the callers for more information where there is doubt but in this case, Police were content to wait for senior staff to drive to a safe forward point, arm and instruct the officers on scene and then proceed to the scene.
Let us look at this logically. If the offenders had fled then a man was dying needlessly. If the offenders were still on the scene, then every memeber of the public walking into the scene is at risk. Is the life of an unarmed innocent memeber of the public worth so much less than the life of a Police officer who has sworn to protect them?
Of all the police faults on this occasion none is more egregious than the Comcen operator assuring the victims family that help would be there in minutes when they knew or should have known that this was untrue. They suspected, and subsequent events bore out that the only chance the victim had of survival was if they put him in a car and took him to the assistance that would not come to him. They lied and they did it in circumstances that resulted in loss of life. Worst of all, trusting immigrants to this country believed them and the message to such communities that Emergency services cannot be trusted to tell the truth will take decades to undo.
Stephen Franks considered and eloquent comments on this subject, together with a careful reading of the British Independant Police Complaints enquiry into a similar incident strike a chord of common sense in this entire debate. Your own comments may be heartfelt but in the end a life was lost, without any attempt to save it until it was far too late, and that remains something the Police should have wanted to thoroughly investigate at the outset.
I feel very strongly about this and would invite you to contact me by e mail if you still remain unconvinced and are prepared to debate it with me.

  • Jim Maclean
  • June 21st, 2008
  • 3:51 am

typo in the e mail address. It should be

  • Max Richie
  • June 25th, 2008
  • 12:42 pm

I’ve joined this discussion a bit late but I’d like to support the thrust of the majority. I’m as well qualified as most, perhaps more than some – I’ve been in a few shooting incidents, admittedly when I was a little quicker off the mark than I am now. The memory does remain with you. No-one is questioning the courage of any individual front-line police officer. The fault in this case lies with an inlfexible policy. When a man’s life is at risk then whoever is on the scene first shoudl be empowered to exercise his or her judgment. In the Singh case, it was clear that there was unlikely to be much risk and the benfit of acting was quite clear – a wounded man could have received treatment and might have saved his life. The Police inactivity and subsequent pathetic attempts to avoi blame has futher damaged their already poor reputation. They need new leadership to redeem themselves.

  • Jim Maclean
  • June 26th, 2008
  • 5:56 pm

I would like to propose Max Richie as the New Police comissioner. Giving Stephen Franks the Justice and Police portfolio would be a good move too!
Why on earth do some in authority have to be dragged kicking and screaming to what seems to most of us mere common sense.

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