Topics: Crime, Prison

Independent report released on police actions during Rhys Warren stand-off

By Mere McLean
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

An independent report into the actions by police during the stand-off with Rhys Warren near Kawerau in 2016 says that there were serious failings in how police operated during the siege.

In March of 2016, a quiet suburb of Onepu near Kawerau was the scene of a cannabis raid.

It ended in a police stand-off with Rhys Warren resulting in three injured police officers.

Judge Colin Doherty of the authority says that they “found at all levels of police there was misunderstanding about the commands and control functions that changes in various phases of this operation”.

The findings of the report are being supported by the locals of Kawerau.  Warwick Godfrey says, “I think we have to accept the findings of the authority and that is the military style from the police was probably the wrong way and in the end it was resolved thought a community-based policing model”.

Warren fired the first of a series of four shots at police who were removing cannabis plants near his house.

The Armed Offenders Squad responded and cordoned the house. 

At 3:30pm, a team of AOS officers entered the house. Warren fired three shots, seriously injuring three of the officers. Police fired 46 shots towards Mr Warren as they evacuated the house.

Warren surrendered peacefully to police the next day.

“They genuinely feared individually and collectively for their own lives and for the lives of their fellow officers who had been seriously wounded when Mr Warren fired at them on entry to the house,” said Judge Doherty. 

The judge recommended that police staff at all levels should receive further training on conceptive control and command and their appropriate roles and responsibilities.

“The critical analysis information made by some of the forward officers in control wasn't robust enough, and if it had been, then other decisions might have been made to intervene in a less forceful way.” 

Warren has been convicted and was sentenced to preventive detention.  He is not eligible for parole for at least 10 years.