Police shootings could increase due to the number of illegal firearms on the street

Greg O'Connor says the high number of firearms in the hands of criminals may see an increase in police shootings.

Greg O'Connor says the high number of firearms in the hands of criminals may see an increase in police shootings.

A disturbing rise in three elements of organised crime could see police pulling the trigger more often, the Police Association says. 

Since 1941, 32 people have been shot dead by police.

Hamilton man Nick Marshall was shot dead on Tuesday night by police. He is the second Waikato person to be killed by police this year. 

New Zealand Police Association President Greg O'Connor.

New Zealand Police Association President Greg O'Connor.

In June, Mike Taylor was shot dead at his Karangahake Gorge home during a dispute.  

Association president Greg O'Connor the high number of firearms in the hands of criminals may see an increase in police shootings. 

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"You've got a combination of three things happening, you've got ... a rise of organised crime and gangs, you've got a big increase in the amount of methamphetamine and you've got a big increase in the amount of firearms out there. That's a lethal combination and unfortunately any one of those three things would be bad enough but to have the three things happening together is very disturbing."

Marshall, 36, was shot dead when police executed a search warrant at his Hamilton garage in Frankton.

Police were investigating Marshall's involvement in the supply of methamphetamine and firearms.

Marshall presented a shotgun during the search, according to police. 

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​O'Connor said deploying the Armed Offender's squad on Tuesday night showed police considered this a high risk operation. 

"When police officers see the Armed Offenders squad has been involved you know there has been a reasonable amount of planning [has] gone into this.

"If there is any suggestion that there may be firearms involved [and] particularly if someone is prepared to use them, then Armed Offenders will be deployed."

And the firearm trade amongst criminals is healthy in New Zealand according to the union boss. 

They are mainly used by criminals to protect themselves from each other, but they are proving a useful commodity when negotiating with the police.  

"I'm aware there are criminals now that stockpile firearms in case they get caught so that they can then trade them for bail or for any favours," he said. 

And the criminals aren't worried about giving them up they know they can replace them.

O'Connor said the increase in criminal activity in rural areas is no accident. 

"A lot of our criminals are going rural because ... the provinces are just pretty much unable now to run any serious organised crime operations because they have really been decimated and most of their resources goes into child sexual abuse, adult sexual abuse, and family violence," he said. 

"That doesn't really leave much resource to do the proactive investigations necessary to track down drug manufacturing and organised crime."


 - Stuff

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