NZ Police today released a review of its response to the Christchurch mosque attacks in an effort to address the concerns raised by the families of those killed and injured on March 15, 2019.
‘Operation Deans’ – Police’s response to the terrorist attack on March 15 – was Police’s largest, most complex response operation to date.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said the review was undertaken in light of the magnitude and sensitivity of the operation. However, the Commissioner also noted that affected families had concerns about aspects of the response on the day which they had expressed to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the attacks.
“We want to be as open and transparent as possible about how we conducted our operation. We haven’t released the review until now out of respect for the justice process and because we didn’t want to pre-empt the findings of the Royal Commission,” the Commissioner said.
He said Police intended to engage with members of the Muslim community on how to implement the recommendations.
The review, undertaken by an independent panel, considered the Police operational response in the 48 hours following the attack. The panel consisted of Nick Kaldas, retired Deputy Police Commissioner, NSW Police; Michael Heron QC, former Solicitor General; and Jeff Ashford, Director Centre for Lifelong Learning, Victoria University of Wellington.
- The authors concluded that Police’s response on the day was exemplary, however there were improvements that could be made to processes and systems for future operational responses.
- The deployment of staff and logistical support was rapid and effective. Police staff acted as quickly as humanly possible given the rapidly unfolding nature of the event, and the information available to us in that very brief period of time.
- Family Liaison Officers and Ethnic Liaison Officers were mobilised early in the crisis to support the community. The authors found that their overall response to families was of a good standard, but noted they were understaffed to respond to the volume and urgency of information requests of families and communities.
“We know this was a deeply distressing time for all the families involved,” Commissioner Coster said.
“We were conscious of these sensitivities and we worked hard to address them.”
The focus of the Royal Commission Report released yesterday was on the events leading up to the March 15 attack and whether there was anything agencies could have done to prevent it.
The purpose of the review is operational and relates to Police’s incident management processes. As part of the Government’s response to the Royal Commission’s Report, Police will also consider the recommendations in the review as they relate to future incident management.