New data has found the police’s Eagle helicopter has been spending more time flying across Kiwis’ homes – but an ex-police negotiator reassures the public it has nothing to worry about.
Data obtained by AM through the Official Information Act shows the Air support ‘Eagle’ unit helicopter flew over 3322.4 hours or 138 days from July 2021 to June 2022, attending 7622 incidents, in comparison with 5944 incidents the previous year.
Of the incidents the Eagle helicopter was called to, 800 were for the new category of aerial photography/intel.
The new category aerial photography/intel is a record of jobs that specifically involved the taking of aerial photos for intelligence or investigative purposes. These jobs were undertaken previously but were not captured in a recorded category, a police spokesperson told AM.
Warn International director and former national advisor for the NZ Police negotiation team Lance Burdett confirmed police have to have a reason to be recorded above the public’s houses.
“It’s not a tool that’s deployed just to go spying on people. The general public don’t have to worry,” Burdett told AM.
Criminal defence lawyer Marie Dyhrberg told AM New Zealand is well regulated in terms of how you can search and seize information.
“Before you can gather information, particularly in private dwellings and inside houses… you have to have warrants unless there are certain circumstances of great emergency,” Dyhrberg said.
She said the helicopter can circle above and record from the outside.
“They can certainly record from the outside, what they do with that information, however, and recording that’s when it becomes important,” Dyhrberg said.
Burdett said police have to ensure they are sticking to the reason they are there and not starting from the scope of their mission. He said more often drones are being used to replace things helicopters have done before.
“The general public don’t have to have a concern, perhaps organised crime might want to re-think what they are doing.”
Watch the full interview above.