Do you feel safer if police officers have guns? Or rather the other way around? Crimes had been rising for the past years, for instance, in the last two years after the United Kingdom have passed its “draconian gun ban”, their handgun crime rose by 40%, as reported in BBC News Online. Many people had been asking if it would be better to arm our police officers. Some answered yes and some answered no.
As can be seen in the variety of on-line forums, such as in www. cableforum. co. uk, where 25 % said yes, 21. 3% said no, some 14% are left undecided while others insist on increasing ARV’s. In a series of thread discussion at care2. com, on November 2005, and on news on Mirror. co. uk on 2006, there had been concerned citizens who also discuss about arming the police. Some of those people who answered yes are mostly police officers or their family, or victims of violent crimes or the victim’s family. These people suffered the worst of criminals and they know how to be threatened by this people.
Those people who say no on the other hand are threatened by the fact that can be described as a “slippery slope argument” wherein, since the police have it, everyone who are in danger should have it too, because this may most probably lead to criminals more armed than ever and civilians would be more in danger Why don’t police officers be armed? People would not opt to agree because there are many incidents involving law enforcers being the law breakers themselves.
Survey shows that these facts are inevitable because the power over others that they possess (especially the males) is overwhelming they tend to took advantage of that power. Small Arms Survey 2006) But that assumption does not affect all of them generally. The police officers had undergone training to overcome such possibilities. But events of police officers breaking the law themselves can only be minimized but not totally eradicated. It is very hard to admit but these are the truth that we have live with. Police officers would agree on this matter. They could do their job better if they have guns. They would like to be sure that when they were to respond to a call of duty they would be fully equipped for any situation they have to face.
Police officers pointed out those criminals most likely have guns on their hand. (Kishalya, 2007) How could a police officer defend himself using piece of wood, called baton? What would they do? Face these criminals just to be shot. They would rather retreat to call for back up and before the back up arrived the suspect had escaped. The crime was done while the suspect is not apprehended. Obviously, this is something that the public would not want to continue to happen. Making the members of a certain government safer is one of the primary objectives of any government.
Minimizing the occurrence of crimes is the reason why would a government build a police department. They enforce what law the government would implement. They catch law breaker and bring them to justice. And most especially is to maintain peace and order in the community. These are the works that the police should do. Health and Safety Keenan (2006) reports that the most recent police shootings in England and Wales showed that only a small percentage from many armed police operations ended in the discharge of a firearm.
Almost 50% of the shootings show that the criminals or the suspects provoked the police into shooting them, which is called suicide-by-cop. The report also shows that only 3% of the criminals, mostly drunkards, are willing to use force against an officer. There were only a very small percentage of criminals who want to force the police in life-threatening situations. Many have different opinions regarding the issue on whether police should be armed while on duty. As what Fleming (2006) have reported, England and Wales people are at a greater risk of being crime victims than any other citizens.
He says that firearms should be administered to lessen this risk and avoid the many instances of death whether on the side of the police officer or of the suspect. Another person says that every policeman in UK should carry a gun to protect him self and the public from the criminals. Carrying a truncheon is not enough since many criminals carry handguns. If police officers do not carry firearms with them, they are out handed and the criminal is more confident to do their crimes, if they no before hand the the officer does not have or is not permitted to carry firearms with them.
Any police officer could be in an unpredictable situation if he responds without a firearm and the criminal has. Moreover, with the advancement in technology, the criminals are getting a-hold of hi-tech firearms. Why shouldn’t the police have firearms, too? It is no longer safe to walk in the streets because criminals could just be anywhere. Even the prisons and the sentences no longer have an effect on them especially if they have gotten used to being incarcerated (Jones, 2006). What more if police haven’t got firearms with them?
In enable to fully address the situation, there were several precautions that were legislated to protect the cops in life threatening situations. For instance, after the death of a man in Greater Manchester, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) required all police officers to wear level two body armor. The IPCC said that the use of the body armor was under the Health and Safety legislation. Specified in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA 2000), that there should be a progressive use of technological innovations in order to protect and promote the health of and safety in the workplace or situation.
On the other hand, there are people or ordinary citizens who think that carrying firearms during patrol is not the right option. Carrying a gun will only endanger its possessor. Ford (2006) says that even the best trained police officers can make mistakes. And in UK, most firearms are illegal. There are also other people or concerned general public who pointed out that a police officer carrying a firearm will only encourage the criminals to carry firearm, too, to protect them from the officers who carries firearm (Care2. com).
Another thing is that a police officer can fire at someone and just get away with it. There are a lot of people (Care2. com), who say that because the policemen are at constant risk, they should be handed a gun during their duty. However, there were instances wherein the citizens are also at risk; however it is illogical to give them or arm them with guns or knives to protect themselves. White (2006) says that, "Guns are for people who have given up hope of resolving problems without violence. " This implies that guns mean or can usually be equated with violence.
Many officers suggest that it is much better that they undergo extensive training to combat criminals and to carry non-lethal weapons. Moreover, if the citizens have a healthy respect for the laws and the police officers, it will lessen the crimes. Another suggestion was to make changes in the punishment for the true wrongdoers. By true wrong doer, I mean those people who are actually guilty of the crime while false wrong doer is those who are only suspect criminals. Criminals should not be given the soft approach when it comes to their crimes. Life sentence should be for life, or 99 years, not just for a few years (Giggins, 2006).
Teeter (2006) adds that the mandatory life sentence should be without parole and no human contact with their fellow prisoners. Harris (2006) also suggested that serious offenders should spend time in prison and with time added for their bad behavior. At least this will deter them from making more crimes should they get out of prison. Another question that needs to be answered is whether police officers want to carry firearms. Johnson, La Vigne, Solomon and Beckman (2006) says it is not likely because police officers will be the one faced with charges while the criminal’s plea for their human rights.
Similarly, Clarke (2006) cites that many officers in UK do not want to be armed while on duty. He adds that “Nobody who is unwilling to be armed should be compelled to be. " Non-Lethal Weapons The late seventies and early eighties has seen the extensive research done on developing non-lethal weapons. That research gave birth to a wide array of NLWs in the market. Even the law enforcement and military agencies started employing these NLWs in solving crimes. As more and more researches were done, these weapons became more fanciful and futuristic (Bigelow).
Many officers say that non-lethal weapons are good options instead of a firearm (MacKay, 1998). According to a research report by Davison and Lewer, new non-lethal weapons are now being deployed by the police and the soldiers on service. These weapons include the following: acoustic weapons (Long Range Acoustic Device) and microwave weapons (Active Denial System). They say that there could be danger in using these weapons without testing them thoroughly and without thinking of the possible consequences of using them. Taser One of these non-lethal weapons is the taser which is adequate equipment.
Taser which is otherwise known as an electroshock gun works to incapacitate a person or a criminal using electricity to temporarily paralyze the muscle tissues of the criminal or suspect. Waldron (2006) says that this is a "sophisticated and effective choice…to enhance their traditional self-defense equipment. " This weapon is also said to give police a greater chance of defending themselves and the public, although there were controversies regarding deaths of over 50 persons due to its use. There were also disagreements among medical experts on the lethal effects of tasers during routine use.
In UK, the police forces have been using Taser since April 2003, and the trial finished a year later. In May 2004, the use of the Taser should be limited to ‘trained armed forces that can fire them in situations where they would otherwise have drawn their handguns. ’ There was another report by the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) on September 2004 on the use of taser by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) in London. The MPS were accountable to more than 50% uses of taser. Actual uses of taser could be seen in incidents in UK. One incident was disarming a Samurai sword from a man on 2006 and a machete from another man that same year.
Although these weapons are generally classified as non-lethal, one should always keep in mind that this does not mean that it is not deadly, rather, although it is safer than firearms or “lethal weapons”, still it is hazardous to a person’s health, most specifically to those who have heart and bone problems. Due to the fact that tasers were classified as non-lethal, some police officers have abused using the said weapon, using them even to torment a suspect or repeatedly electro shocking a person to persuade them to the whims of the officer. Suicide-By-Cop
This phenomenon was first described on 1981 in news accounts and in scientific journals. This phrase was said to originate from the United States. It also appeared in the British newspaper The Guardian on 2003. This started from a report about a police shooting which was ruled out to be suicidal because the suspect goaded the police into getting out their guns. Suicide-by-cop refers to an incident where someone acts threateningly towards a law enforcement officer and it could result in a fatality. Indicators include deranged suspects pointing a loaded or unloaded gun to an officer and a suicide note, if any.
However, Van Zandt (1993) says that the number of individuals assaulting police which leads to a confrontation is still unknown. An individual who falls prey to suicide by cop may confront a law enforcement officer because he knows the officer might use force. More often, the officer does not know that he becomes the instrument in fulfilling the suicidal person’s death wish. Brown (1998) says that “there is always police stress as a result of a suicide by cop. ” There was always the issue of lingering post-incident stress that is inevitable. This further can lead to PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Knowing the indicators of a possible suicide by cop “victim” is very important for every policeman to know and to understand. If they know how the mind of a suicidal subject works, the better they know how to handle these situations and they will be able to deal with these confrontations. It was reported by Van Zandt (1993) that the suicidal subjects often resort to suicide by cop because it is what they are capable of. In fact, these subjects do not even hate the police. It’s just that they view the police as instrument in killing or harming them.
Another reason for resorting to suicide by cop is that the subjects want the decision to be made by another person or persons, particularly the police officer. However, some of these incidents are not all planned in advance. Other suicidal subjects are depressed resulting from a loss of job or relationship or mentally ill or deranged. In a case study made by Bresler, Scalora, Elbogen and Moore (2003) regarding several attempted suicide by cop incidents, they found out that most of the persons involved suffers traumatic brain injury and insanity.
According to Westrick (2007) most of the people who have been in a “suicide by cop” situation are “anxious and angry people”. A study done in the United States by Deirdre Anglinof the Harvard School of Medicine along with Sgt. John Yarbrough of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department(LASD) showed that more than one in 10 killings by officers is a result of a suicide—incidents where the police officer is threatened. The study involved examining 437 officers who were involved in shootings from 1987-97.
It showed that 46 of the total was suicide by cop. The study also showed evidence that the incidents of suicide by cop is on the rise. (Dingsdale, 1998) On the other hand, Kennedy et. al (1998) says that the suicidal intentions of the suspects resulted from the many police shootings. Many researches show this fact. The authors also say that the officers could adjust to these incidents by understanding the nature of the suspects. Moreover, “management could adjust training and operations to more appropriately respond to the phenomenon of suicide by cop. It must be the focus of the police officer to first unhand the suspect or immobilize the criminal not directly killing them.
There seems to be nothing wrong in handing police officers guns while on patrol if it means protecting themselves and the public. However, every officer must be responsible for his actions and decisions. He must be skilled in dealing with criminals especially to those that tend to be suicidal. However, if there were better options than carrying a gun, then there is nothing wrong in choosing them. Now that we are advancing, society is also changing and the police role has changed with it (Jones, 2006).