Is Wanganui ready for armed Police? - 16/06/2008Mayor Michael Laws said today that the Wanganui District Council will be following closely the request of South Auckland Police to commence a trial that arms Police seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
"Wanganui is not Manurewa or Otara, but the robbery overnight of the Fitzherbert Avenue dairy raises a similar issue for our city. Do we have a sufficient level of crime in our community to contemplate our Police being armed?"
Mayor Laws noted that a number of communities in New Zealand – in provincial as well as metropolitan areas – were exhibiting an upswing in armed and violent crime.
"Violent crime, and the fear of violent crime, is a recurrent refrain throughout most communities in New Zealand, and Wanganui is no exception.
"I personally support the request of south Auckland and Christchurch Police to have armed Police available every minute of every day. I suspect Wanganui Police have that capability and, because of the shorter distances, that their access to arms is more immediate.
"But the national debate as to whether the NZ Police should be armed – not simply with Bushmaster rifles and Glock pistols – but also with the non-lethal taser stun gun – is essential."
Mayor Laws urged Police Commissioner Howard Broad to "make a final decision on tasers".
"He has been sitting on his bottom for months. It would be good to see every Wanganui Police officer armed, as a matter of course, with tasers. I detect no opposition from the Wanganui community to having our Police so armed and resourced."