Police Commissioner Peter Marshall says the shooting of a man in Hawke's Bay illustrates the unpredictable and violent nature of police work.
He says he wants officers to have access to firearms in situations where they are needed, but this does not mean a general arming of the police.
Mr Marshall says he has spoken to both officers involved and told them police safety is his priority.
The man was transferred to Christchurch hospital on Thursday in a critical condition. He was shot after apparently threatening to kill an officer at a checkpoint near Otane.