Wellington, June 23 NZPA - Police officers will be able to serve on local councils under a law change passed by Parliament tonight.
Until now they had to take special leave during a campaign and resign if they were elected.
Police Minister Judith Collins, who introduced the bill that removed the restrictions in the Policing Act, said democracy had been restored.
"The Government is committed to supporting our police and their rights as private citizens," she said.
"This change will ensure that police staff are not treated any differently to other state servants, who are not prevented by legislation from standing for election and serving on local authorities."
The Policing (Involvement in Local Authority) Amendment Bill was passed while Parliament was sitting under urgency and Ms Collins said it was in time for this year's local government elections.
"The bill gives certainty to those police staff who intend to stand for the elections later this year and it will give them time to plan their campaigns," she said.
"Allowing police to serve in local government can only build on the strong relationship between police and community groups."
Police internal policies will be reviewed to ensure any conflicts of interest are managed properly.
Labour supported the bill. The Green Party and the Maori Party opposed it.