12 May 2009

PM not in favour of armed police force

5:45 am on 12 May 2009

Prime Minister John Key says he is reluctant to see an armed police force in New Zealand.

Mr Key's comments follow a two-day siege in Napier during which Jan Molenaar shot three policemen and a member of the public.

Senior Constable Len Snee, 53, was killed during the incident, which began on Thursday morning. Two officers and a man are in Hawke's Bay hospital with serious injuries.

The 51-year-old gunman was later found dead in his booby-trapped Chaucer Road home which contained at least 18 guns.

Mr Key said on Monday that arming police would bring with it the risk of the weapons being used against officers and carrying guns would make police less approachable.

He doubted being armed would have helped the three officers who have been killed while on duty in the past year.

"I can't speak about the situation with Len Snee - it's too early to understand whether it would've helped in that instance. But in the other two, the arming of the police would not have saved those police officers," Mr Key said.

Call for faster rollout of stun guns

The Police Association is calling for the national rollout of taser stun guns to be sped up following the shootings in Napier.

Association president Greg O'Connor said on Monday he did not know if having tasers would have made a difference in Napier, but it would have been a good option.

Mr O'Connor said police work is increasingly dangerous and the rollout needed to be accelerated.

Police in Auckland and Wellington have access to tasers, with plans to introduce the stun guns to other districts over the next year.

Mr Key on Monday indicated there would be funding in the Budget on 28 May to complete the rollout to all districts.