A mob attack on a lone Waikato police officer could have
turned even uglier had he drawn his pistol, Police
Commissioner Peter Marshall says.
Constable Perry Griffin was knocked to the ground at the
Kawhia wharf by a group who allegedly kicked him, and took
his Taser, radio and pepper spray.
He was recovering from a sore hip as well as bruises and
grazing to his face and arms.
Three people appeared in Hamilton District Court on Saturday
on charges stemming from the attack.
The attack was the fifth on a Waikato officer since just
Mr Marshall said it was a concern that the officer's Glock
pistol could have been taken from him.
But he told Radio New Zealand the officer had made "the right
decision" not to draw the firearm.
"When I was speaking to the senior volunteer fire officer at
Kawhia, he said if the firearm had been withdrawn, anything
could have happened in that pack mentality."
Mr Marshall said the attack was "a very ugly situation" which
escalated slowly over 45 minutes, and it could not have been
"I'm not sure how many people he was dealing with initially,
but certainly once supporters of the person who was going to
be arrested joined, and once other people came to the area,
there was something like 80 people, he tells me, in the
immediate area egging others on, some just being passive
Mr Marshall said there were 62 one-person stations throughout
the country, including on the Chatham and Pitcairn islands.
But single-officer stations were not the subject of "any
"It is a rare occasion. It shouldn't be happening. It does
happen, unfortunately. Policing is inherently dangerous.
"A lot of police officers who get assaulted are actually in
provincial or city areas, but it was a very unfortunate
situation and we're going to do the right thing by Constable
Mr Marshall said police dealt with hundreds of violent
incidents every week, and assaults on officers were the
Alcohol and drugs appeared to be a common factor.
"And there is also a particular element who will also have a
go at the police, it is unfortunate but that is the reality."
Police Association vice president Stuart Mills said Mr
Griffin would have been safer if a second officer was
present, and police should reconsider how sole-charge
officers tackled dangerous situations.
"There have been far too many of these serious assaults on
police officers. Policing is dangerous, however this type of
injury on a regular basis, as has been seen recently, should
not be occurring," he told Radio New Zealand.
"Police may have to stand back and wait until back-up is with
them before engaging such incidents."
The Labour Party has promised to double the number of
officers at sole-charge stations, and reiterated the call in
light of the recent attacks.
In a statement to Radio New Zealand, Police Minister Anne
Tolley said Labour was using the attack to score cheap
She said police deployed staff as they saw fit.