Fewer armed offenders calls

Members of the Dunedin armed offenders squad outside a Dunedin property earlier this year. Photo...
Members of the Dunedin armed offenders squad outside a Dunedin property earlier this year. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Callouts for the Dunedin armed offenders squad have dropped dramatically.

''In my 16 years, I have never seen a year like it,'' Dunedin AOS commander Inspector Jason Guthrie said.

The squad averaged between 30 and 40 callouts each year ... ''but in the year just gone it has really dropped off''.

Figures released to the Otago Daily Times shows there were 18 callouts in 2012-13, compared with 36 in 2009-10.

And callouts were on track to be down this year.

To date, there had had been 13 callouts, including one last week to the Dunedin suburb of Concord, for the 2013-14 year, which ends on June 30.

Insp Guthrie, who had led the squad for the past two years, said he believed the dramatic drop was due to police preventive work.

That work includes issues concerning domestic violence and firearms.

He noted the Dunedin AOS squad had regularly been called to domestic incidents in Central Otago when ''a person did something they shouldn't''.

''But we just don't see that so much now.''

Squad members, made up of police officers from all different types of jobs, were selected for their initiative, he said,The squad trained monthly, but once a year trained with their counterparts from Invercargill. This year's exercise was held earlier this month, on the Taieri.

Nationally, there are 17 armed offenders squads, made up of nearly 300 members covering the country's main centres.

The AOS is set to mark its 50th anniversary this year.

The squads were established following the fatal shooting of four police officers in incidents in Lower Hutt and Waitakere in 1964.

The numbers
Callouts by the Dunedin armed offenders squad. -
2013-14: 13 (year to date)
2012-13: 18
2011-12: 36
2010-11: 35
2009-10: 36

- hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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