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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Home / Outcomes / 2021 Summaries of Police Investigations

Officers should not have armed themselves when attending incident in Rotorua

4 November 2021

A driver failed to remain stopped for a suspected traffic violation near Hamilton. A pursuit was initiated but abandoned soon after due to the driver's manner of driving.

The car travelled to Rotorua where Police saw it and again it failed to stop when signalled to do so. Police followed it to a rural location where the driver and his passenger abandoned the car and fled into the bush.

When Police arrived at the abandoned car, two officers decided to arm themselves to support a Police dog handler tracking the driver and passenger into the bush.

Ultimately, the driver was apprehended, and the passenger was accidentally bitten by the Police dog. Police later apologised to the passenger in respect of the bite.

The Authority's review of the Police investigation also examined the two officers' decision to arm themselves and whether that decision complied with Police policy on the carriage of firearms. We found the decision was flawed and contrary to policy because the circumstances the officers faced did not meet the threshold as specified in the policy. At no stage did the officers have sufficient evidence that either the driver or his passenger might be armed or had committed any offence so as to make arming by Police appropriate.

The Authority noted that the policy is unclear as to the threshold required for officers to arm themselves and has recommended Police review the policy to provide clarity.

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