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A police employee becomes a constable by swearing the oath under s 22 of the New Zealand Policing Act 2008. Upon doing so the constable receives certain statutory powers and responsibilities, including the power of arrest. While constables make up the majority of the workforce, non-sworn staff and volunteers provide a wide range of support services where a constable's statutory powers are not required. Rank insignia are worn on epaulettes. Officers of Inspector rank and higher are commissioned by the Governor-General, but are still promoted from the ranks of non-commissioned officers. A recently graduated constable is considered a Probationary Constable for up to two years, until he or she has passed ten workplace assessment standards. The completion of the above is known as obtaining permanent appointment.

Detective ranks somewhat parallel the street ranks up to Detective Superintendent. Trainee Detectives spend a minimum of six months as a Constable on Trial after completing an intensive Selection and Induction course. During these initial six months they are required to pass four module based exams before progression to Detective Constable. They are then required to continue studying with another six exam based modules as well as a number of workplace assessments. Once the Detective Constable has completed all of this they are then required to sit a pre-requisite exam based on all of the exam based modules they have previously sat. If they are successful in passing this they attend the Royal New Zealand Police College where they complete their training with the Detective Qualification course before receiving the final designation of Detective. All of these requirements are expected to be completed within two to three years.

The rank of Senior Constable is granted to Constables after 14 years of service and the Commissioner of Police is satisfied with their conduct. Senior Constables are well regarded within the New Zealand Police for their extensive policing experience, and are often used to train and mentor other police officers.

Detective and Detective Constable are considered designations and not specific ranks. That is, Detectives do not outrank uniformed constables. Nevertheless, a police officer with a Detective designation will generally assume control of a serious crime scene rather than a uniform staff member regardless of rank.

New Zealand Police officers do not routinely carry firearms; officers only carry OC spray (pepper spray), batons and tasers ( that is a brand of conducted electrical weapon). The Diplomatic Protection Squad and Airport officers are the only officers who routinely carry firearms. The majority of New Zealand Police officers are trained in the use of the Glock 17 pistol and Bushmaster XM15 M4A3 Patrolman rifle and wear a holster attachment for the pistol to enable carriage of the firearm if necessary. Senior officers can approve carrying of these firearms located in stations if necessary. In addition, since 2012, frontline vehicles have had a locked box in the passenger foot-well containing a loaded and holstered Glock 17, and in the rear of the vehicle, there is at least one Bushmaster rifle secured in a case together with ballistic vests. The vehicles are fitted with glass break car alarms. Each officer in the vehicle carries a set of vehicle keys and a set of safe keys. Officers are required to advise their supervisor or communications if a firearm is to be retrieved from their vehicle and carried.

The Police Association has stated carrying of handguns is inevitable. In January 2013, a Waikato officer was attacked by at least five men after he deployed his OC spray and Taser. His radio was taken from him and his pistol was misplaced during the attack. The Police Association's request for routine carrying of firearms for all officers after this incident was dismissed by the Police Commissioner. The current firearm training and issuing policy has been criticised. Not all police officers receive regular firearm training nor do their vehicles contain a secured firearm. In October 2015, unarmed officers at a routine police checkpoint at Te Atatu South who pursued a vehicle that sped off from the checkpoint were shot at from the offender's vehicle. In December 2015, the Police Association referring to the incident requested that all frontline officers receive firearm training and that their vehicle contain a secured firearm; this was rejected.

In July 2015, the Police Commissioner announced that Tasers (that is a brand of conducted electrical weapon) would be routinely carried by police officers. Tasers were first trialled in 2006 and in 2010 were rolled out throughout New Zealand with all frontline vehicles containing a secured Taser in a locked box, providing ready access for officers, if needed, to a Taser model X26 or X2. In 2012, figures showed that a 'disproportionate number of people' targeted by police Tasers were mental health patients.

Police officers receive regular training called Police Integrated Tactical Training (PITT) in a three-tiered tactical response structure, as Level 1, 2 or 3 responders. All officers are trained as Level 3 responders in defensive tactics, handcuffs, OC spray, baton and taser. Of the approximate 8,100 frontline officers, 5,700 receive training with the pistol and rifle as Level 1 and 2,100 receive training with the pistol only as Level 2. The New Zealand Police annually release a report of their use of force including OC spray, Tasers and firearms.

All officers wear a stab vest named Stab Resistant Body Armour (SRBA) based on a design similar to that used by United Kingdom Police with a ballistics vest able to be worn over the stab vest.


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