Authorities in the city of Hawkes Bay, located in North Island, New Zealand, are preparing to be armed and to increase in presence in the area. This is prompted by escalating tensions broke out into full-on gang violence.
Despite the rare occurrence of routinely carrying arms, the strategy aims to help mitigate violence after gunshots were fired during a gang brawl in Taradale, Napier last Sunday. Officers from other areas were also brought in to meet the demand for increased police presence.
The aforementioned brawl resulted in injury with a 25-year-old man set to appear in court on Wednesday with more arrests expected to be underway. According to police, another gang-related shooting took place on Saturday in the Bay of Plenty near the town of Ruatoria.
Officials report that Hawkes Bay saw an increase in gang members from 30 percent to 35 percent in the span of two to three years. They said on Wednesday that more gang members were arrested for carrying firearms unlawfully. Some of the arrests were made after members had “converged” the Wairoa.
“There is a growing number of younger gang members and the older hierarchy can’t control the young cohort the way they used to,” Supt Tania Kura, eastern district commander, told reporters.
While authorities are able to control occurrences of gang-related violence, the University of Canterbury sociologist Jarrod Gilbert believes that will not be able to eradicate them.
“The police do very well at the ability to control incidents of gang violence, but they can’t rid us of gangs,” he told The Guardian. “That’s going to require social and economic policies – it’s not just about law and order – and the quicker the politicians understand that, the better.”