Violent attacks on police rise

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 05:00 27/12/2012

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A Huntly policeman suffered a "king hit" after being set upon by a mob of drunken youths in the latest of four attacks on officers around the country.

The attacks have reignited calls from the Police Association to arm officers with guns.

The officer was treated for grazes and a cut above one eye after the assault on Christmas Day about 10pm.

He is now recovering at home after the attack when he was hit from behind by a partygoer in a Huntly cul-de-sac.

Residents of James Henry Cres were unsurprised to hear of violence in their street but were unnerved when they found out a policeman had been assaulted.

"It is scary that it has happened to a cop," a resident said.

Another resident who was at the party but did not witness the attack said she did not know the man who assaulted the officer but he had been causing trouble.

It is the fourth incident of its kind in the past four days after a Hamilton policewoman had her ankle broken on Friday night while attending a domestic incident, a policeman was attacked by a mother and son in Matamata, and two policemen were injured in Dargaville after a woman used a brick as a weapon and then tried to shoot an officer with his own Taser.

In the latest assault, the Huntly police were responding to a complaint about boy racers and tracked the driver to the James Henry Cres address when they were attacked.

"That address and the one behind had separate parties going on with several intoxicated people inside and outside the properties," Western Waikato area commander Inspector Paul Carpenter said.

"As our officers were arresting the 17-year-old he began to actively resist the officers and a crowd from both parties converged on the patrol car."

As one officer continued with the arrest the other attempted to control the crowd.

"About this time a large male has run at one of the officers and king hit him from behind, knocking the officer to the ground as the crowd surrounded the patrol car," Mr Carpenter said.

Police Association vice-president Luke Shadbolt said the attacks showed the rising level of violence staff faced.

"This holiday time has emphasised again the increasing danger faced by the staff. Increasingly, members of the Police Association are calling for general arming. And we know, amongst the staff . . . more and more are leaning toward general arming as well."

When questioned about what Waikato police planned to do to help their police, a spokesman said they already had extra staffing for the holiday period and supervisors were also emphasising the importance of good communications and the value of their new officer safety devices, as used in Huntly's incident.

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Mr Carpenter called the actions totally unacceptable and said further arrests were likely.

"Here we have two police officers working Christmas Day helping to keep the public safe, responding to a 111 call from the public, who are then set upon by a large intoxicated mob," Mr Carpenter said.

All of the five attacks on police officers involved people who had been consuming alcohol and anyone involved could expect a swift response, Mr Carpenter said.

National prevention manager Superintendent Bruce Bird said a strong message needed to be sent to drunken people who carried out attacks.

"We've got police officers out there day and night, doing a great job, well-trained, trying to keep everyone safe and being attacked is quite frankly appalling and shocking," he said.

"To people out there who want to assault our staff, we'll arrest you and put you in front of the courts."

Anyone who witnessed the attack or knows the identity of the attacker and his whereabouts can contact Huntly police on 07 828 7560 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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