Collins: Top cop loses troops’ confidence
National leader Judith Collins says she thinks Police Commissioner Andrew Coster is a ‘‘nice guy’’ but is wrong on armed response teams.
Coster decided not to carry on with the highly-armed response teams after a trial, saying the community did not support them.
National proposed on Tuesday that the teams be made permanent, saying police needed more protection after a recent spate of violence.
Collins yesterday said Coster was wrong. ‘‘The police commissioner is wrong. He’s a very nice, pleasant person, but unfortunately, he’s a hell of a long way from the frontline.’’
She said communities were telling the National Party they wanted police
‘‘to be able to police the law’’ and suggested Coster’s problem was too much obedience to the Government. ‘‘The commissioner in my opinion has unfortunately lost the confidence of many of his frontline troops, and that’s a dreadful situation because he’s a very pleasant and nice and intelligent person – he tries his best. But you can’t serve the community as well as the Government.’’ Asked if she thought Kiwis were supportive of the routine arming of the police more generally, she said they seemed to be comfortable with the arming of police in Australia, but there could be a risk to the friendly relationship between the public and police.
‘‘New Zealanders also go to Australia, and they don’t seem to mind police officers, and they don’t seem to mind police officers being armed, but they also like the friendliness between the police and the public here, but nobody wants to see police officers being shot and killed, or shot and injured.’’
National itself agreed with the ending of the armed response trials at the time, with thenspokesman Brett Hudson saying the commissioner had made the right call. ‘‘Frontline officers have access to firearms in their vehicles, they have the authority and discretion to deploy them as they see necessary,’’ he told RNZ.
The Police Association disagreed with the decision. The armed response trials were introduced by police after the March 15 terror attack. Government ministers expressed dissatisfaction with the trials, but said the matter was ‘‘operational’’ for police.