'Red tape putting police, community at risk': Union

Police say red tape preventing highly-trained police from accessing long arms is putting the lives of police and the community at risk, particularly in regional areas.

Police Association of NSW president, Tony King, said restriction on access to firearms was leading to dangerous situations where police have to leave an incident, return to the station to unlock a long-arm firearm, then travel back to the incident.

"In the regional areas of the state, we have about 140 trained police who form the part-time duties in the Tactical Operation Regional Support units," he said. 

"These police are highly trained and equipped with long arms identical to the Public Order Riot Squad units and the Tactical Operations unit, however red tape and funding for safes in vehicles means they are locked away in police stations.

“We are calling for these officers to carry their long arms in the police vehicles while performing these duties, so they have access to them when required.

“Long arm firearms allow officers to engage a target from a longer distance and with more accuracy, which is vital to ensuring the safety of the community and the officers themselves.

“Instances where officers are required to engage a target from a long distance are thankfully rare, but when they do occur, lives are at stake.

“NSW is lagging behind on this. Victorian police now have long arms accessible in a locked safe in the back of police cars."

Mr King said the call was particularly pertinent in regional areas of the state where firearms are more common.

“We’ve got examples like a case in Queanbeyen where a man was walking down the street with gun, shooting at random into cars and shops," he said. 

"In that instance, an officer had to drive to the police station, unlock the longarm, and then drive back to the scene.

"Thankfully no innocent bystanders were injured by the man in question, but next time we might not be so lucky.

“Police need to be adequately resourced to keep themselves and the community safe. At the moment, that’s not the case.

“Police are well trained to use all the equipment available to them in a manner that keeps the community and our officers safe, and long arms are no different.”