Disarm most police

Mike Stelzig - Candidate for Yerrabi

Iceland, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and the Maldives, the police do not carry firearms unless the situation requires it. ACT Police are now almost all equipped with tasers.

Considering that firearms are drawn seldom in the ACT, it would make sense to have unarmed officers patrol the streets with a small armed force specially trained to respond to violent conflict. The fact that Australia has one of the lowest rates of accidental shootings of unarmed civilians in the world is no justification to retain an archaic method of law enforcement or for gaining compliance of civilians.

In 2013, the Australian Institute of Criminology released a report detailing fatal police shootings between 1989 and 2011. In that period, police fatally shot 105 people. The victims were almost entirely male and 60% were between 20 and 39 years of age. Of those persons shot by police, 42% were suffering a mental illness at the time of the shooting. Between 2008 and 2012, England and Wales combined had just nine fatal police shootings, despite having a combined population more than double that of Australia (https://theconversation.com/shoot-to-kill-the-use-of-lethal-force-by-police-in-australia-34578).

Australia has seen an erosion of trust between police officers and the public and a steady increase in complaints against police brutality is on the rise. Police require better training to identify and cope with difficult situations and to be able to de-escalate a situation without drawing a fire arm. The ACT should look at the good results achieved by having unarmed police.

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