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Should the police carry guns?

New Zealand police do not carry guns. In most countries in the world, police officers wear a gun on their belt but in England, Wales, Southern Ireland, Norway and New Zealand, police are not armed.

However, in New Zealand patrol cars have guns in a locked box. We also have 17 Armed Offenders Squads who are called if there is an incident involving someone with a gun. The Armed Offenders Squads are also used for drug raids or for planned actions that could be dangerous.

Yesterday, Greg O’Connor who is the President of the Police Association (the police union), said a majority of police believe they should be armed. He said many criminals have guns and in many cases police do not have time to go to their car and unlock the box.

However today, Michael Woodhouse, the new Police Commissioner (the boss) said he does not believe we need to arm police. New Zealanders mostly respect the police and trust them. The police have a reputation for being ‘community friendly’. Police need to be good at communication, especially when they are dealing with people suffering from mental illness.

The police also have other weapons which they can use in dangerous situations such as pepper spray and taser stun guns.

This is not the first time that Greg O’Connor has said the police should be armed. Listen to July 14 2010 to hear more about arming the police.

Vocabulary

• arms (n) = guns, bombs etc; to arm s.o. (v) – to supply s.o. with guns etc; armed (adj)
• squad – small team (Note pronunciation)
• incident – something happens, an event
• offender – a criminal
• raid – surprise attack by police
• reputation – other people have a high opinion of them
• weapon – e.g. a gun, knife etc

Questions

1. Do police have a good reputation in your country?
2. How do you feel about police in New Zealand?
3. Have you had any good experiences with police in New Zealand?