Drop in deployments of AOS

The country's armed offender squads are being deployed less, with fewer call-outs in their sights, police say.

The squads are called when there is an emergency response to incidents involving firearms or other weapons, or during high risk search/arrest warrants.

However, those calls have decreased since July 1, 2010.

Figures released to the Otago Daily Times under the Official Information Act show the 17 city-based squads were called out 2756 times over a three-year period.

That includes 849 deployments during 2012-13, compared with 992 during 2010-11, a drop of 14%.

Police National Headquarters operations support Inspector Geoff Jago said police were ''encouraged that strategies such as Prevention First and targeted policing have seen a reduction in the number of deployments nationally''.

Police had invested heavily in tactical training and equipment for frontline officers, allowing those officers ''to deal safely with some incidents that previously would have required AOS involvement''.

Insp Jago said while policing activities were continually reviewed, there were no pending changes for AOS.

''It is anticipated that Prevention First strategies implemented by police will further reduce the number of incidents involving firearms.''

Of the 17 city-based squads, 11 recorded a decrease over the last three years.

That included the two squads in the Southern District: Dunedin and Invercargill Dunedin recorded 36 callouts in 2010-11, but that dropped to 31 in 2012-13, while Invercargill went from 45 callouts to 24 over the same period.

Wellington recorded the largest number of AOS callouts with 416, followed by Christchurch (387) and Auckland (357).

Insp Jago said the squads would celebrate 50 years of service this year.

hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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