THE state’s police association has made fresh calls for country cops to be issued with long arm rifles in the wake of this month’s shooting in Glen Innes.
The Armidale branch of the Police Association of NSW (PANSW) which covers officers across the Northern Tablelands, including Glen Innes and Tenterfield, has gone public with calls to speed up the rollout of long arms.
The branch argued the shooting of two of its own – Senior Constable Helen McMurtrie and Sergeant Mark Johnston – on the night of January 17 shows why the weapons are needed.
“The reality from last week’s tragic event was simple, police faced an offender who had a superior weapon who was situated in an elevated position,” branch chair Chris Jordan said.
“Even at 15 meters, Mark, Helen and Sam were attending with inferior weapons.
“A pistol is only a close quarter personal protection weapon, its design and purpose is never meant for the situation that these officers, and many officers across regional NSW face.”
Senior Constable McMurtrie remains in the Gold Coast University Hospital recovering after she was shot in the neck when Eric Newman fired at her and her colleagues, after they were called to a domestic dispute.
Sergeant Johnston was struck with the same bullet and has been released from hospital after suffering shrapnel wounds to his face.
Probationary Constable Samantha Petty, who managed to drag her injured colleague to safety, was not physically injured but is being supported by police and family.
Mr Jordan said the government and NSW Police needed to speed up the promised long arm rifle rollout to regional areas before its too late.
“We almost lost a mother, a father and two good friends, we do not want to see this happen or have officer in position where they are already on the backfoot,” he said.
“All we want to do is protect the community and return home each and every shift”.
Mr Jordan said there had been close calls previously and country cops in Queensland and first responders in New Zealand had been equipped with long arms for several years.
“Back in 2015/2016 we as a branch saw the need for country-based police officers to be equipped with long arms,” he said.
It came from the Stocco manhunt in 2015 and the risks officers took in a shooting in Tenterfield in 2012.
“We took this to the 2016 PANSW Conference with overwhelming support from members across NSW”.