As more facts have come out, I’ve been critical of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menzies, who was shot and killed by special operatives of the London police in the mistaken belief that he was a suicide bomber.
In the London Times yesterday was an article even more critical of the culture of the London “Gun Police” quoting two SAS trainers who had trained the officers. I’d be a bit wary of this because there’s certainly room for some blameshifting, but if half of what is claimed is true, the London cop shop needs some major work.
The two soldiers describe a number of alarming incidents during police training at the regiment’s base in Hereford. The trainers have no authority to fail police officers they believe are unsuited to the job.
One of the soldiers said: “When the tension starts to rise and the adrenaline is flowing, the ‘red mist’ seems to descend on armed police officers who become very trigger-happy. This has been shown time and again in training exercises.”
The second soldier said: “We thought that police firearms officers were far more concerned with their personal image, dressing in body armour and looking ‘gung ho’, rather than their professional capabilities. I’m not surprised at the number of mistakes over the years.“
The statement also describes a police training exercise run by the SAS in which an armed terrorist group was threatening to kill a hostage. The police team were to rescue the hostage using minimum force.
“I was playing the leader of the armed group and instructed the other members of my group to surrender peacefully once the final assault was initiated. Therefore there was no need for the police to open fire.
“But as the police assault group entered the room they began firing at everything. No one had moved; we were all stood with our hands on our heads.
“The response would have resulted in the unnecessary deaths of all the make- believe terrorists and the hostage alike. So much for the rule of minimum force.”
This sounds like a serious case of undertraining, lack of accountability in training, and poor management on the part of whoever is supposed to vet and deploy these guys.
The first time I went into a shooting simulator at Gunsite, I did in fact shoot everything in sight.
But that’s a mistake I’ve never made in a live-fire or force-on-force simulation again, and I’m just a random civilian. If they can’t train the London cops better than I’m trained, they shouldn’t be allowed to carry guns. Period. This is a significant management failure, and needs to be addressed today; my guess is that more – rather than less – London officers will be carrying guns in the next year or so.