Monday, 7 June 2010
We've been here before...and before....and the time before that
I've scanned a few of my favourite police-flavoured blogs and left a few comments here and there over the Cumbria homicides. Because of my background in police firearms training and operations I've tended to comment where I've found questions about the police response to such incidents. One comment I spotted just a short while ago prompted me to jot these thoughts down. It was from `Notts Sarge` over at PC Ellie Bloggs's place. It was particularly poignant for me, as a few years ago, in a previous job, I viewed a short, jerky piece of cctv footage of a foot chase that resulted in a young policewoman being shot in the stomach by a young man armed with a 9mm pistol, of the type I used to be issued with. It happened in the blink of an eye, even when run in slow-motion and it was shocking in its simplicity. Practically no one reading this will know about it or what happened to that brave officer. This is what `Notts Sarge` said:
Here, all incidents involving weapons are automatically referred to 'Top Desk' i.e. the Control Room Insp and/or a civilian manager.
Firstly, I don't want tactical decisions making by someone who is not a cop, has never been a cop and only knows vicariously, through the power of CCTV, policy and, of course, hindsight, just what we might be going into.
I'm equally uncomfortable putting my welfare, and that of the public, in the hands of an Insp who may or may not have previous firearms experience, may be in a non-combatant post for any number of reasons and who may or may not be more worried about what damage it would do to their career if they dropped a bollock over a firearms incident.
The Gold/Silver/Bronze heirarchy is fine, but if you accept that Police Officers are trained professionals, they need to allowed to exercise that professional judgement.
I'm with Ellie on this - keep ARVs out there with at least a sidearm at all times. Keep a locked gun safe in the cars so there is always the option available.
As we travel further down the road of risk aversion, we expose the public and ourselves to greater danger while someone makes a decision in the Force Control Room (or not as the case may be).
If you want me to protect life and property, I'd like the tools to do the job please.
If Pc Bloggs permits, my comment will be seen after this very apt and totally relevant comment from a frontline leader of police officers.
The debate about arming all UK police officers routinely will continue to rumble on. There will never be a 100% agreement, because whatever happens will never provide a 100% solution, such are the vagaries of life, the universe and everything. I have written about this before, some 16 months ago. Here is what I said. The weapons described are different from those used in Cumbria, but believe me when I say that the problems faced and the potential options proffered are precisely the same.