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Should our Police hand in their handguns?


old man emu
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OME, I would have to defer to your experience in the job, because having been there you'd have more of an idea than the rest of us.

 

There does seem to be less of a problem here than in the US where police shootings are not restricted to armed offenders but also unarmed Australian women in their pyjamas.  I guess there are a few questions:

 

- Since you were a copper, has there been a decrease of respect for police and an increase in the likelihood of them being attacked with a weapon?

- Has the level or quality of firearms training increased or decreased?

- Have the levels of mental health problems in the general population increased, especially those leading to violence against others or police?

- If the police in general were disarmed, would it lead to an increase in violence against them?

- With radicalisation on the rise since the advent of the internet (whether that be right-wing white supremacists or islamists) - is there more of a chance that police will need to be armed to stop "lone wolf" attacks using vehicles, knives etc?

 

Personally I have no problems seeing coppers having sidearms, on the assumption that they're well trained in their use and in the appropriate situations to use them.  If I was ever in a situation where I was being held hostage or my life was at risk, I'd rather constable Plod had his Glock out than his nightstick. 

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2 hours ago, Marty_d said:

Since you were a copper, has there been a decrease of respect for police and an increase in the likelihood of them being attacked with a weapon?

Yes. I believe that it is a result of our people being exposed to anti-authority ideas from the USA, of which I have mentioned many times before. These ideas come through the media. You only have to look at the way Aborigines took up the ideals of Black Power in the 60's, although what the Aborigines had cause to protest over was completely different from the American situation. And so it has progressed since the 60's. It seems that what we Baby Boomers sowed in the 60's has become ours to reap.

 

As for increase in weapons, the numerous gun amnesties have been of help in reducing access, but somehow we have become a knife culture. Also, baseball seems to be the sport of choice for violent people. When was the last time you heard of someone being armed with a cricket bat, or the more traditional fence paling or lump of four-be-two?

 

2 hours ago, Marty_d said:

Has the level or quality of firearms training increased or decreased?

In light of the Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Royal Commission, I believe that training in all aspects of dealing with offenders has been subjected to greater training. There is a much greater emphasis on Duty of Care from the time an interaction with police commences until a person is returned to liberty. Over the years, the amount and quality of tools for dealing with people has improved. This improvement has reduced the need for close physical contact to some degree. However, dealing with a person, male or female, who is full of "piss and bad manners" raises one's desire to beat the crap out of them, just to get them to shut up.

 

2 hours ago, Marty_d said:

Have the levels of mental health problems in the general population increased, especially those leading to violence against others or police?

Yes. That commenced with the closure of secure mental health facilities and the massive reduction in finance and personnel in that field. Back in the day, police were mainly dealing with physiological mental illness. Then came we Baby Boomers with our grass and LSD. This lead to heroin and finally amphetamines. It's a bad cocktail, disrespect of authority and stimulant drugs. 

 

Thanks for the really good questions. I hope my responses make sense to you.

 

2 hours ago, Marty_d said:

If the police in general were disarmed, would it lead to an increase in violence against them?

Probably not. However, the use of deadly force by police should be the extremely last response. Police would need to be trained that if a situation gets hot, they should withdraw and set up a control perimeter. Then call in the specialist who include trained negotiators and tough guys with flash-bangs and gas cannisters if needed. What need is there to dive in immediately and fight for supremacy? Didn't we learn that at Gallipoli? Don't go where you don't know. A policeman's shift will end and the next shift will come to take over. Call in the trained Tactical Response police. The result will be better than having Coroner's Inquests and adverse media which would only feed back to increasing disrespect.

 

2 hours ago, Marty_d said:

- With radicalisation on the rise since the advent of the internet (whether that be right-wing white supremacists or Islamists) - is there more of a chance that police will need to be armed to stop "lone wolf" attacks using vehicles, knives etc?

Street police only respond to incidents after the event. The offenders are often well away, or if holed up, then bring in the TRG. It does rankle if you have to withdraw, but the day will come when the police have the drop on a wanted offender. How many major criminals have been caught as a result of being seen to commit a minor sin?

 

Major operations against criminal activity are more like planned military battles, not the skirmishes that street police get into. Keep an ear out for the coming operations against the Bikies.

2 hours ago, Marty_d said:

If I was ever in a situation where I was being held hostage or my life was at risk, I'd rather constable Plod had his Glock out than his nightstick. 

No you wouldn't. Street police are not marksmen. Do you fly without having ensured your currency with the aircraft? One day's shooting at cardboard cut-outs on a safe pistol range does not produce the skill required to accurately shoot a target. You have to add the stress of the situation to the factors that decrease the skill of the shooter.

 

There's no one-means-fits-all in hostage situations, which is where you would be at most risk. A good self-defence method is to play dead, especially if the hostage take has hold of your body. Go limp and the average person can't support the weight. Either you are released, or you both fall over. Since you expect to be falling over, you have some control and a plan of what to do next.

 

 

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AS a ex squaddie in the brit forces i have used firearms as req of the type available at the time (early sixties) ,i believe that NO one other than trained personnel should have firearms, when i was a lad the local bobby was respected, he would give us young uns a clip on the ear and send us packing now it seems that the police are there to enforce more and more outlandish rules(covid as example), guns are made to KILL .in wartime yes soldiers and forces should have guns , but today do we need so many exotic types of guns that anyone seems to be able to get, there are more guns in Aus than when Howard had the national gun buy back, for me , the local beat police should not have a gun if he carries tazer,pepper spray, batton, on;ly specialized police  with the right training should have access to guns , as you say we seem to be following the us , criminals will always get guns so yes the deterrent of being shot dead by armed police  may work, as for DV more people should speak up about that, my rant over

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Surely it depends on where you live whether or not police should have guns. I live in rural Australia and for me it is OK for our local police to have a gun. They can put an injured animal out of its misery after a road accident, they can control people who are attempting to attack them or anyone else. In a town it is different due to harder surfaces and more people. Remember the Lyndt Cafe fiasco, where ricochets seemed to be the cause of deaths.

What I find disturbing is the bad behaviour of some police who cannot be trusted and even worse is the back up they get from their bosses, but that is not confined to guns, but includes non armed abuse.

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2 hours ago, Yenn said:

They can put an injured animal out of its misery after a road accident,

That can be done by carrying a .22 rifle. Country police are shown how to humanely kill a beast. For adult horses – a rifle should deliver at least the muzzle energy of a standard 0.22 magnum cartridge. For foals – a rifle should deliver at least the muzzle energy of a standard 0.22 long rifle cartridge.

Diagram indicating the frontal method for the humane destruction of horses

 

2 hours ago, Yenn said:

they can control people who are attempting to attack them or anyone else.

The important word there is "control". That can be done with non-lethal devices.

 

2 hours ago, Yenn said:

What I find disturbing is the bad behaviour of some police who cannot be trusted and even worse is the back up they get from their bosses, but that is not confined to guns, but includes non armed abuse.

That's a different kettle of fish from the intent of this thread.

 

3 hours ago, gareth lacey said:

criminals will always get guns

Yes. And a smart criminal will only use a gun in much the same way as a policeman - to gain control of a situation. Unless your criminal is a homicidal maniac, like Milat, the only reason they will use a gun is to control movement and to open an avenue of escape. In the countryside, that could simply be to get hold of the police's handcuffs and secure the police to a vehicle before making off.  Most criminals are not stupid enough to risk their liberty for life by killing people. If police have to deal with an armed offender in a stand-off, then, as I said, you get paid whether you are racing in or sitting off. My wife always preferred me to hand over my pay cheque than to be presented with a posthumous award.

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I well remember how in South Australia, the police had no guns.  There was a rotten cop ( since jailed for robbery and drug dealing ) who was the union rep at the time and he got guns for the cops. I reckon they walk differently now they have guns. They swagger.

While I agree with a rifle for country cops, I just hate it how the rest of them swagger with their guns. In my opinion, they are counter-productive and make it more likely that deadly force will be used against them earlier.

Of course, I also hate it that crooks have guns too these days.

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New South Wales Police have carried guns for a very long time. The legal right to use them was one thing that was drummed into them back in the day. Also, until the 1980's their guns were concealed in those flap-over holsters, As a result, I don't see the carrying of a gun a source of swagger. For most of the swaggerers, it is the blue suit that is the source. It's not just one sperm that makes a Little Hitler. An ounce of authority is enough for some to mutate.

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OME, thanks for starting the discussion.

 

My personal view (more accurately, gripe), is that the biggest problem with police forces actually maintaining their position as a positive influence in our society, is their own culture.

 

What was once a 'force' intended to guide us plebs toward being sensible and fair to each other in our daily lives, has evolved into a forceful group of blue clad individuals focussed on catching individuals out for every possible infringement.

 

This perception is the root cause of public reluctance to trust or assist police in their general activities.

 

The police, in response, feel it is an 'us vs them' situation where every non police person is simply another suspect that we haven't yet got enough evidence to convict.

 

I feel the culture of policing has degenerated over the years into a confrontational culture, and this defeats the whole purpose of a police force.

 

I personally know a number of police persons. They all went into the profession with the highest ideals. However they now feel disenfranchised (and isolated) from mainstream population, for the above reasons. That is sad. And they feel outnumbered.  And that ads to a cynical assessment of any member of the public with whom they are confronted. So force is often the first option.

 

The problem seems to be a cultural one.

Edited by nomadpete
self actuated spell correction
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Oh, sorry but I forgot to address the gun thing.

 

Having spent some time listening to a number of pistol club members discussing police use of side arms, I conclude that the police forces seem to fail to offer consistant training in fire arm use.

 

But the problem of gun use seems to still be cultural.

Situations seem to progress far too quickly from 'hazardous threatening behaviour' by an individual, to 'grave life threatening risk to officer requiring killing the alleged offender'.

 

Controlling that, is mostly within the scope of training. Conflict resolution, etc.

 

Further, although it is generally acknowledged that 'all crims can get guns', it follows that if all crims know that most plods don't have guns, then they don't need one either, (except to fight with other crims), and if they get into a confrontation with police, the outcome is far worse if they have a gun in their hand.  They are usually smart enough to know that they can't expect to kill all the police and get off scot free. And if you shoot one, your future is very dim.

 

So, my take is that average police should not have guns.

Taser, nightstick, cuffs, all ok.

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16 minutes ago, nomadpete said:

has evolved into a forceful group of blue clad individuals focussed on catching individuals out for every possible infringement.

The driving force of that is, in some cases, the fear of being on the end of a trivial complaint. There is a thing called "discretion". Parents and teaches use it all the time with their kids. How do you modify behaviour? You can lead kids by the hand, or drag them by the earlobe. The former method usually gets the desired result in the end. However, so many people are willing to complain about everything that everyone else does. And police are prime targets. For Joe Citizen, police must prove an allegation beyond reasonable doubt. Innocent until proven guilty. However, complain about a policeman and the policeman is assumed to be guilty and an allegation doesn't have to be proven. Where there's smoke ....

 

So that leaves the police with no ability to lead malefactors by the hand. It always has to be the earlobe drag. If not, someone will alleged that the policeman copped a quid. 

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The 'guilty until proven innocent' concept is not unique to the police force.

I used to drive a corporate vehicle that had a bumper sticker that said something like ' We value safe driving' followed by a 1800 freecall phone number.

 

In due course, I was on the mat in front of my manager, with demands to justify my driving behaviour. A complaint had been received by a motorist accusing me of failing to allow traffic to merge at a particular location. In the corporate view I was automatically guilty.

I pointed out that the allegation was made by a motorist who entered the flow of traffic from behind a Yield (Give way) sign. He subsequently agreed. 

But my record was forever marred.

So I understand the disparity of which you speak.

 

I find the 'spot the infringement' culture to be very destructive to the public perception of police.

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6 minutes ago, nomadpete said:

I conclude that the police forces seem to fail to offer consistent training in fire arm use. Controlling that, is mostly within the scope of training. Conflict resolution, etc.

I've never been in the military -army - so if you have, am I not correct in saying that for a recruit, learning to operate a firearm is a minor part of military training? Isn't the most important training done to learn how to assess and plan to deal with a situation? I said earlier that you don't go into what you don't know. A lesson learned on the rocky hills of the Dardanelles. 

 

That's where police should concentrate their training - learning techniques for calming a situation. One thing that I as introduced to and which sticks with me still is how to deal with the mentally ill. It's useless to try to deal with them in your reality. You have to explore theirs, and function within it while still maintaining your "normal" reality. Many mentally ill people, especially the schizophrenic and paranoid have been man-handled by ignorant police. I'm sorry if this offends, but I always found that the basic Christian tenet of "Love they Neighbour" allows one to treat people in a way that shows them some dignity. It's like the saying, you catch more flies with a drop of honey than a gallon of vinegar.

 

Perhaps I am a fool. But I think that one can be an effective policeman by treating people with respect and understanding. You can dislike the offence, but if you respect the person you earn respect for yourself.  You never know in a pub brawl, the hoodlum you showed respect to last time you dealt with him might just be the bloke who'll dive in to protect you from others.

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(Quote)

"how to deal with the mentally ill. It's useless to try to deal with them in your reality"

 

I would suggest that much of a 'policeman lot', is about dealing with the vagaries of the human condition. Mental health.

 

Consider... Nobody in their right mind does DV to those they love, nor most kinds of violence or other unpleasantness to fellow humans. A lot all comes down to mental health.

Dealing with that takes a lot of emotional intelligence, tact, and skill.

 

Guns don't help unless the situation has degenerated to 'kill or be killed'.

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PS, With respect to your comparison with military use of guns, generally military use of guns differs from civilian police use.

In the military we are instructed who the baddies are, and they should all be killed.

I hope our police don't feel that way toward the general populace.

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9 hours ago, nomadpete said:

PS, With respect to your comparison with military use of guns, generally military use of guns differs from civilian police use.

In the military we are instructed who the baddies are, and they should all be killed.

I hope our police don't feel that way toward the general populace.

What I meant was that the recruit must first be taught to operate the machine. Once that competence has been gained, the machine can be put back in the armoury and the recruit begins to be taught how to plan and carry out operations at the end of which will be the use of he machine for its primary function.

 

In general, the military are praised for reducing the numbers of baddies who can operate against them. The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his. George S. Patton

The police are castigated for the same.

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40 minutes ago, old man emu said:

In general, the military are praised for reducing the numbers of baddies who can operate against them.

I was tangentally alluding to the fact that the police are tasked with the same imperative.

 

And now that civilian criminals expect that police are all armed and prepared to use lethal force if they feel it is necessary, as far as an aspiring criminal is concerned, their survival becomes a contest to have a bigger we

 

I totally agree that training is essential, and the police are frequently disadvantaged by having to uphold a higher standard of ethics than the crims.

Anyway, as I said before, I'd like to see less weapons (less militarised police). But for the plan to have any chance of improving outcomes, it would have to be implemented nationally, and publicised, along with harsh penalties for posession of a weapon, and backed by crack marksman teams available at a moments notice to intervene when a life threatening gun situation unfolds.

 

Basically unlikely.

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11 hours ago, old man emu said:

That's where police should concentrate their training - learning techniques for calming a situation.

Totally agree. Ideally, our Police should be recruited from those who have never watched an American cop show where weapons seem to be drawn every time a civilian is encontered. Unfortunately American Gun Culture has permeated this country, so we can’t squeeze the genie back in the bottle. Perhaps all we can do is improve training and halt the militarisation of our police services- and yes they are a Service; the Army is a Force.

11 hours ago, old man emu said:

I always found that the basic Christian tenet of "Love they Neighbour" allows one to treat people in a way that shows them some dignity. It's like the saying, you catch more flies with a drop of honey than a gallon of vinegar.…

You never know in a pub brawl, the hoodlum you showed respect to last time you dealt with him might just be the bloke who'll dive in to protect you from others.

OME it sounds like you were the sort of copper we needed. In my limited dealings with prisoners, during gaol visits, rehab sessions etc., I have often been surprised by the common decency of the average criminal.

 

One that stands out was a heavily tatooed bad’un who crashed his car in our patch at the end of a police chase. Despite his obvious injuries, he repeatedly waved off my efforts to help him and insisted I focus on his trapped girlfriend. I’ve seen far less chivalry in my time.

I was less impressed by the many wallopers who, guns drawn, roughly dragged him from the vehicle to make their arrest.

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