More police should be given Taser guns, says chief constable
WILTSHIRE Chief Constable Patrick Geenty wants to equip more police with Taser guns in the wake of the murder of two officers in Manchester.
Mr Geenty said he was concerned that some officers felt isolated and vulnerable by new working patterns that mean they may have to wait some time for back-up.
At present only a small proportion of police officers are trained to operate Tasers, which use an electric charge to stun offenders. He is investigating how feasible it is to have more of his officers able to use them.
MR Geenty was speaking after Dale Cregan, 29, appeared in court yesterday accused of murdering PC Fiona Bone, 32, and PC Nicola Hughes, 23, in Mottram, Manchester, on Tuesday.
He said: “After the deaths of the two officers in Manchester there has inevitable debate about arming police officers. That is an emotional response but when you think about what it would mean, most police officers would tell you that it would be a backward step. “But training more officers to use Tasers would do more to protect them. Some of our rural officers can be isolated and they can feel vulnerable. At the moment out of each shift of 15 officers, only two of them are trained to use Tasers. “I am looking to see whether we can increase that. “Unfortunately I have to look at the cost implications as well but I want to be able to give my officers something else in their kit so they feel more secure.”
A Taser gun costs about £1,000 and officers need three days’ training, plus a yearly update.
The force has two armed response cars permanently on duty but, said Mr Geenty, they are rarely deployed. “It is more about ensuring my officers, and the public, feel safe and secure,” he said.
The day after the news of the two officers’ deaths, Mr Geenty sent a message to staff pledging to do his utmost to protect them while they carried out their duties.
“I had been accompanying Princess Anne on a visit when the news came through. “I sent out a message to staff every fortnight so I was able to use this one to get the message across,” he said.
He wrote: “What a sad day for the loved ones of those officers and for the wider police service.
“Every day, I ask you all to go about your duties/work in a professional and caring way but in the back of all of our minds are the potential dangers of policing. “I hope and pray that you will always be safe and I will do my best to ensure that you have the right kit and training to do your job,.
“But tragedy like this reminds me that we can never be entirely safe in our profession. “We bravely put ourselves in harm’s way sometimes to protect the public and occasionally officers pay with their lives.
“Although thankfully rare, I am sure you all recognise the risks – and tragic incidents such as what has happened to these two officers remind us of them. “And yet I know that you will continue to serve and protect, which reflects the bravery and professionalism of those within the best police service in the world.
“I am sure that you would all wish to join me in extending our deeply felt sympathies to all those affected by this most tragic event.
“I know this news may have had a profound and upsetting effect on many of you.
“So please can I remind you of the welfare provisions we have in place, which I hope you will access if you feel you need to.”