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Something for the IPCC to try.

January 2, 2007
The Met are inviting people to try a firearms incident simulation to see how difficult it is to make snap decisions under high pressure, where the outcome could prove fatal.

Instead of carrying live rounds, the participants are given a laser gun and follow a video of an incident. They have to decide whether or not to shoot a suspect and once the decision is made, the video goes on to show the outcome of their decision.

As an example, there is a scenario where a suspect is confronted. If the “officer” decides not to shoot, the suspect then goes on to shoot an innocent member of the public.

I tried this a few years ago – it is bloody difficult, even when you know that the outcome is only recorded on video. How it must be for those who have to do it for real is something that I can only contemplate. I hope never to be in that situation, but I’m grateful that some of my colleagues have taken on the responsibility.

What is their reward? Apart from a seemingly bottomless pit of overtime? They get to have their split-second decisions analysed by people with no concept of the immense pressure that the officer was under at the time the decision was made. The officer has their authority to carry a firearm withdrawn while a protracted investigation takes place. This is an implication of guilt without the benefit of a trial. The officer has to carry the burden of having taken another person’s life.

A question to all members of the IPCC – Would you want to be a firearms officer?
10 Comments leave one →
  1. Annette permalink
    January 2, 2007 20:32

    If I was in the force I would definately be a firearms officer. How exciting would that be?!
    When I retire I want to get a firearms licence and join a club.I love guns.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    January 3, 2007 03:59

    For those people who carry guns outside of law enforcement or military situations the deal is “You play big boys games then you play by the big boys rules”.

    It also beggars belief how firearms officers are treated if they actually shoot someone. Pulling them off the job and treating them with suspicion until it is proved they acted lawfully is crazy. No other profession does this to their staff for carrying out the role they are specifically trained to do.

    I think the video sim idea is a good one but even better would be to follow it up with a visit to A&E to see the real bloody mess a GSW causes. This might provide the Toytown gunslingers with an even more rounded education.


  3. Anonymous permalink
    January 3, 2007 08:58

    Here in the US, where all cops (and pretty much everyone else) are armed, we’ve been trying to get the public to try the simulators. Even more so, we’ve been trying to get the press to get in for the training. I’m sure you can guess how well that’s worked. A large city department in my state owns one and offers it to the general public, and doesn’t have enough attendance to make it worthwhile.

    The one saving grace is, on my department all officers are required to train on the simulator at least annually, and the chief and the detectives who investigate officer-involved shootings are no exception.

  4. Dr Dan H. permalink
    January 3, 2007 10:44

    Requiring the members of the firearms incident review board to at least take the firearms training course, and preferably pass it would be a good start.

    Do that and they’d have an inkling as to what that sort of incident actually feels like, and how bloody difficult it is to get right.

  5. totallyun-pc permalink
    January 3, 2007 11:53

    I use those lazer ranges about twice a year. Before that we had paint-sim ranges and even before that, live fire video lounges.

    One thing i can say is that you rarely get it right.

    Never wrong, Cos you can and do justify your shot, but the discussion afterwards is like a court hearing, where everyone questions your thought process. Then you realise, you didn’t have a thought process. your descriptions are wrong, your incident memory is wrong, guns focus the mind on one thing. The assailant, and your capacity to stop him. (ok, thats two)
    The rest are peripherals. And all the training in the world will still mean that when the real event looms, your mind is focussed down to the sights on the end of your firearm!

    On a lighter note, your right about the overtime though!

  6. dickiebo permalink
    January 7, 2007 11:25

    Nobody can have any idea as to the exacting nature of Firearms cops duties, until they have something to measure them by.
    When I was in the RMP (Royal Military Police), I couldn’t hit the side of a barn with a revolver. In the Met Police, I became a qualified marksman and, at 30 yards, could probably shoot out a person’s eye. Why the difference? Simple. Expert teachers, and amazing equipment.
    The modern Firearms Officers are infinitely better than I ever was, and have better weapons. Believe me, they truly are the “cream”.

  7. m&mbm permalink
    January 9, 2007 08:35

    What I would find interesting is to simulate a true situation where an officer has shot someone, throw the people investigating the shooting into the situation “cold” and see what decisions they make.

  8. Jess permalink
    January 11, 2007 15:45

    Hi there, I’m a writer for time out doing some research on the Metropolitan Police and I’d really like to ask someone a few questions for a feature. Do you or any other bloggers in your network work for the Met? If so, could I get an email address?

  9. Stan Still permalink
    January 11, 2007 15:49

    Hi Jess

    I am not a Met officer, but there is every chance that one or two might read this.

    Why not post an e-mail address so they can get in touch? Or alternatively, let me know what you are looking for and I’ll do a blog entry.

  10. Donna permalink
    January 19, 2007 12:55

    I used to shoot pistol privately and was a range officer for our small cub (nothing special, 9mm, 45, 44, 357, etc.) until the laws changed. (don’t get me started on that!)

    I was sitting in an interview room for a job at an Ambulance depot a few years ago, and picked up a copy of the blues and twos magazine, whatever it was called … it contained a very interesting article on arming the whole Police force.

    The net result was that if the requirement to carry and use a firearm was part of being a Police officer, then we would have very few Police on the beat. Taking a life, even that of a dangerous person to save those of innocent people, is not an easy thing to live with.

    I am involved in a number of avenues of life where the people doing the criticising know nothing of what they are criticising, and not only that, wouldn’t make the effort to further understanding even if offered the chance. They are content to point a finger and shout good people down for their own entertainment and self importance. I believe it is that criticism that has stood in the way of my becoming a Special Constable, but that is another story that isn’t yet finished … the lady with the high BMI rating has yet to break song.

    My hat is firmly off to those who do the country the service of carrying firearms. If only more people realised the real cost of what they are laying on the line.

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