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Gangbuster: Police Minister Mark Mitchell’s message to gangs – reform or be reformed!

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Police Minister Mark Mitchell (left) and Police Comissioner Andrew Coster. Photo / Ben Dickens

Tough-talking Police Minister Mark Mitchell has a simple message for gang members. There’s a new sheriff in town and he’s taking back control.

On the back of announcing the police’s new gang strike force, gang-busting Mitchell told the Herald gang disobedience and lawlessness will no longer be tolerated and the new task force cops will get in the faces of gang members.

“My message to gang members is leave the gang, stop peddling your drugs and misery, quit violence, put down the guns and rejoin society,” Mitchell said. “Do that and we will get alongside you.

“But if you are going to stay in the gang, we will see that maximum damage is inflicted on gangs, the criminal networks and criminal supply chains.”

Mitchell said the public wanted reassurance that police are taking back the streets and not acting as traffic control for gangs.

The gang funeral for Killer Beez member and Ponsonby shooter Hone Kay-Selwyn leaving Ngāti Ōtara Marae on Monday, May 13, 2024. Photo / Jason Oxenham
The gang funeral for Killer Beez member and Ponsonby shooter Hone Kay-Selwyn leaving Ngāti Ōtara Marae on Monday, May 13, 2024. Photo / Jason Oxenham

“The public want a sense that police have control of the streets, not gang members,” Mitchell said.

“The dedicated gang disruption unit will be totally focused on gangs and the new powers they will get will allow them to have a big impact on the gang landscape.”

Mitchell says he rejects the narrative that the gangs are too strong and police have almost lost the power to enforce the laws.

Auckland police have had the Viaduct and downtown areas of the Auckland CBD under surveillance, fearing a gang turf war.

Mitchell said he would like to see a police patrol base return to the inner city to curb crime in downtown Auckland.

The old Auckland Central police station sits vacant. Photo / Bastiaan Beentjes
The old Auckland Central police station sits vacant. Photo / Bastiaan Beentjes

“The gangs will always try to get a footprint and presence around licenced premises, especially in main areas like the Viaduct,” he said.

“It was a big loss losing the Wharf Police station. When I was in the police, I worked out of the Ponsonby station.

“I would like to see a police patrol base back in the CBD, but that’s an operational matter for the Police Commissioner.

“I was really clear to the commissioner that I wanted to see more foot patrols and beat officers back out in the streets.

“I want our police to be highly visible around the CBD because they are reassurance, preventative and they build relationships with bar owners and retailers and they get to know their patch.”

That’s good news to Viaduct restaurant owner Leo Molloy , who has seen gang members try to stamp their mark on his premises.

“As the police apply pressure, the gang-aligned community shift from precinct to precinct. There’s also the matter of territory, as gangs expand in size and activity, they look to expand their ‘footprint’, their opportunity, and the CBD is being contested by multiple gangs in a provocative fashion,” Molloy said.

He has noticed a greater police presence at the Viaduct but wonders why they are there at 7.30am and not 11pm when trouble usually kicks off.

“I’d like to see boots on the ground, fully tooled-up cops during our busy periods,” Molloy said.

Leo Molloy wants police to patrol the Viaduct when trouble happens, which is later on in the evenings, on weekends especially.
Leo Molloy wants police to patrol the Viaduct when trouble happens, which is later on in the evenings, on weekends especially.

“Whilst it’s good to see them sitting around at breakfast time sipping their lattes, the harsh reality is that the offending occurs Friday and Saturday nights – and the police are nowhere to be seen during those periods. If you call police, there’s only a 50/50 chance they’ll bother turning up, unless there’s a weapon involved, in which case they’re fantastic in the way they respond.”

Last month, Molloy confronted a man who was allegedly wielding a gun after a fracas at his Viaduct bar Headquarters.

Joseph Los’e is an award winning journalist joined NZME in 2022 as Kaupapa Māori Editor. Los’e was a chief reporter, news director at the Sunday News newspaper covering crime, justice and sport. He was also editor of the NZ Truth and prior to joining NZME worked for Urban Māori organisation Whānau Waipareira.



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