As the title says, in my view arming the police routinely is wrong, despite the hysteria in the media following the tragic deaths of the 2 female officers in Manchester recently. There was also the off duty PC killed in Essex tackling an armed man earlier this year.
The police do a dangerous & difficult job. I know that I can be a pain when I’ve had a few drinks, but there are people far more offensive to the police. Some people are offensive & insulting & aggressive to the police no matter whether they have had a drink or not.
In the USA, the police are routinely armed & many (if not all) of the officers I speak to when doing the bike ride say they would not feel safe doing their job without being armed. Most also say they do not carry a gun or possess a gun outside of work. Yet in the UK, the last time a survey was done of police officers, the vast majority voted against being routinely armed.
Why the difference? Well despite being armed, around 120+ US officers are killed each year, compared to <5 in UK. Now in UK its rare for gunfire to kill police officers (usually <1 per annum). In US around 50% of those deaths are by gunfire. Even allowing for the population differences, its a big discrepancy.
The police on both sides of the Atlantic see that arming the police leads to an arms race with criminals. Once race starts, it is impossible to revert back to beginning again.
Turning to another issue. When UK police officers were first issued with CS spray, we were told it would only be used in exceptional circumstances to prevent loss of life or limb. That has changed over time so that CS spray is now used to subdue un co-operative detainees irrespective of risk to life or limb. Indeed it is often now used as a weapon of first resort rather than as we were promised, a weapon of last resort.
Then we had the introduction of the Tazer, an electronic stun gun for want of a better description. This was originally only issued to firearms officers & was again to be a weapon of last resort to protect life & limb. We've had a vast expansion of the issuing of tazers & recently plans were called for to issue tazers to all police officers.
There was a case sometime ago where police tazered an unarmed man in his own home. His crime? Refusing to go to hospital for treatment as per his wife's wishes.
A police officer in Chorley in Lancashire, looking for a man armed with a samurai sword managed to mistake a blind man (Colin Farmer aged 61) walking with a white stick as his suspect & shouted at blind man & then tazered him when he did not stop.
1. Samurai sword? White stick? I mean they look identical don’t they?
2. Thug waving sword as he walks looks just like a blind man tapping his way down street as he shuffles along doesn’t he?
3. As the victim says, when he heard someone shouting & yelling at him as he was peacefully shuffling along, he feared he was going to be mugged & carried on.
Even after tazering this elderly blind man, that wasn’t enough, they handcuffed him on the ground.
The use of a tazer in such circumstances cannot be justified, yet Lancashire Constabulary keen to protect their officers rather than the public have already announced that no disciplinary action will be taken against the moron in uniform that tazers blind people.
Come to think of it, perhaps the officer should have a white stick as well as he obviously has serious eyesight problems if he cannot tell a samurai sword wielding thug from a partially paralysed old man shuffling along with a stick.
Fortunately, the moron in uniform only had a tazer, imagine if he had been armed with a firearm? The outcome would have been fatal.
Don’t be fooled into thinking the scrutiny would have been different IF officer’s had used firearms. Harry Stanley was executed in 1999 by armed police officers for the crime of walking home with a table leg in a carrier bag. . No officer was prosecuted or disciplined & these were allegedly highly trained firearms officers.
What about Jean Charles De Menezes who was executed at Stockwell Tube Station in 2005 for the crime of going to work. The officer in charge was hunting an Asian male & gave orders for the shooting of a Brazilian! Rather than being disciplined, Cressida Dick the gold commander was promoted following this!
I could mention Mark Duggan’s execution which sparked the 2011 riots or numerous other incidents
So, it seems we can have little faith in the police to use weapons safely & little faith in the system holding them to account either.
Until we have a system of holding officers individually to account for their use of weapons, we should not extend the range of weapons & officers authorised to carry weapons.
PS if the spelling, grammar etc is not up to my usual low standard, then blame it on the fact I’ve typed it on my phone on a train!