"Christchurch police are circulating a gory email that recommends officers shoot people armed with knives.
Under the heading "Why Cops Shoot Guys With Knives", the email contains stomach-churning photographs of a police officer with massive slashes to his back, chest and stomach.
The text of the email exhorts officers to shoot anyone with a weapon. "If you've got a knife, then you should die ... period."
The email has been forwarded to more than 30 officers and then to addresses that appear to be members of the public.
One man, disgusted by the content, forwarded the email to The Press, saying: "I got this terrible email today, which seems to be sourced from the police.
"It's disgusting that photographs of this nature are widely circulated and used in such an exploitative manner."
The Christchurch policeman from whom the email appears to originate wrote: "Have a look at these photos to remind ourselves why we have SRBAs (stab-resistant body armour) and should be wearing them."
The email continues: "To all the idiots out there who always say, 'Why did the cops have to shoot him? He only had a (insert your choice of weapons here, ie knife, bat, club, whatever). He didn't have to be shot'. To that, I respond, 'Tough crap ... shoot 'em'."
At least one of the officers forwarding the email was a senior sergeant.
Canterbury District Commander Superintendent Sandra Manderson said the officer who created the email had taken the images and the words from an American website.
The email was meant as a caution to officers to wear their body armour, she said.
"But he should have removed the words. They are totally inappropriate. He should have cut them out," she said.
Manderson said she was "not happy" that the email had been sent to members of the public, but it had not been sent outside the police force by a senior member.
National Party police spokesman Chester Borrows said the email was a product of "stupidity".
The images were "pretty gruesome" but "the guy who seems to have started it probably thought he was doing some good", he said.
"He was being a bit naive leaving all the red-neck, bigoted talk in there. The police don't have the public's confidence and it's slips like this that (make it worse)," Borrows said".