…about arming their police? In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, and after the anti-terrorist raids in Belgium and Germany, some of the nations are reviewing their ‘unarmed’ police policies. The UK has traditionally had unarmed Constables. Prior to WW2, if a Bobby needed a firearm in pursuit of a criminal, it wasn’t uncommon for them to borrow a pistol from a passer-by. Today’s Bobbies are still unarmed…except for those roving police cars with weapons in the trunk.
The French and German police had a reputation for low tolerance of law breakers. One apocryphal story has a French policeman stopping a car for a traffic violation and ministering swift corporal punishment—a punch to the face, on the spot. I don’t know if that’s true but I have heard variations of the story from many people and for a long time. In the same vein, mouth off to an Italian or German police officer and you’ll meet his friends when they take you in to the station.
The reality of these stories is that the police, in many if not most, of Europe’s countries, are unarmed and when faced with rebellious or armed criminals, choose to look the other way, or flee the spot choosing discretion over valor. At least some governments in Europe are reconsidering those policies.
To counter terror, Europe’s police reconsider their arms
– Associated Press – Monday, January 19, 2015
PARIS (AP) — One was a young policewoman, unarmed on the outskirts of Paris and felled by an assault rifle. Her partner, also without weapons, could do nothing to stop the gunman.
Another was a first responder with a service gun, rushing to the Charlie Hebdo offices where a pair of masked men with high-powered weapons had opened fire on an editorial meeting. Among their primary targets: the armed police bodyguard inside the room.
With the deaths of the three French officers during three days of terror in the Paris region and the suggestion of a plot in Belgium to kill police, European law enforcement agencies are rethinking how — and how many — police should be armed.
Scotland Yard said Sunday it was increasing the deployment of officers allowed to carry firearms in Britain, where many cling to the image of the unarmed “bobby.” In Belgium, where officials say a terror network was plotting to attack police, officers are again permitted to take their service weapons home.
On Monday, French law enforcement officials demanding heavier weapons, protective gear and a bolstered intelligence apparatus met with top officials from the Interior Ministry. An official with the ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing talks, said automatic weapons and heavier bulletproof vests were on the table.
Among the most horrific images from the Paris attacks was the death of police officer Ahmed Merabet, who can be seen on eyewitness video lying wounded on the pavement as a gunman approaches and fires a final bullet into his head. Merabet, who is seen alone on the street, had a service gun and a bullet proof vest, said Michel Thooris, of the France Police labor union.
“But he did not come with the backup he needed, and the psychology to face a paramilitary assault,” Thooris said. “We were not prepared in terms of equipment or mind-set for this kind of operation.”
One of the attackers, Amedy Coulibaly, said in a posthumous video that his plan all along was to attack police.
“We don’t want necessarily the arms that American police have. We need weapons that can respond,” said Philippe Capon of French police union UNSA. (Read more here.)
Many of us on this side of the Atlantic will agree our police are overarmed and too paramilitary, ready to exercise their power at any excuse. The police of Europe and the US appear to be at opposite ends of a wide separation, the Europeans on the unarmed end and the US on the overarmed end. Many would agree that the best approach is somewhere in the middle.
The armament policies are the results of disasters and political policy. The militaristic of American police can be traced to the North Hollywood bank robbery where the two bandits were armed with full-auto AK-47s and body armor. The police were armed with pistols, some of them .38s, that were ineffective against the body armor of the two bank robbers.
In Europe, the culture is still ruled by statists, the government above all. As such, the populace must be unarmed lest they rise up against governmental tyranny. The socialist policies, and the effects of armed state police organizations of WW2, drove Europeans police policies in the opposite direction. Their primary fear, supported by the French Algerian Putsch against De Gaulle, reinforced the fear of armed police.
The US and Europe went down two paths to their current positions. The recent riots in Ferguson and the shootings in Europe are ample proof of the failures of both policies. The lessons of Ferguson is not so much of an overly armed police, but the ineffectual use of those arms. The lessons of Paris is to not send unarmed police into a shooting arena where the criminals are armed to a military level and the police are defenseless.
Perhaps a better solution is the one in Britain. The standard Constable is armed with an asp or baton and a chemical spray. In each locale are roving armed officers, trained in the use of firearms and tactics. In addition, ‘special’ assault teams, similar to American SWAT units, are on call if needed. The Constable’s responsibilities are limited. They are officially known as ‘community police support officers’ and have limited powers of arrest. The armed police have full police powers and respond to armed incidents.The beat cop still exists in the UK and the local communities support them.
A major difference is in traffic control. In the UK, traffic offenses have been decriminalized and are the responsibility of local community organizations. The UK is crowded. Most long-distance travel is still done by railways. The US is much different in that aspect and traffic control policies of the UK would be unsuitable in the US.
As I said above, perhaps the solution is in the middle of the two extremes. Americans have a long history of self-reliance and of a cultural emphasis of self-defense. The Europeans do not. Throughout their history, Europeans have been subjects…property, in essence, of the state whether that state is a monarchy or a pseudo-democracy. However much American liberals covet Europe’s welfare state, the traditional American culture will resist Europe’s assumption of state supremacy.
Europe, like the US, has allowed a potentially fatal infection to slip into their borders. In Europe, and to a lesser extent the US, the infection is Islamists. The larger one in the US is unrestrained illegal aliens. The infection is not necessarily an armed invasion, although the recent events in Europe may show a change of that direction. No, it is the conflict bewteen the imported cultures with the native culture that will destroy the traditions that built the US and Europe.
Consider, most of Europe is Catholic or Protestant, Christians, both. The history of conflict between Christians and. Islamists is centuries long. Just a few centuries ago, Islam was besieging Europe, outside the gates of today’s Vienna, Austria.
The United States grew from immigration—assimilated immigration. Today’s invasion across our borders has no interest in assimilation. They want us to assimilate to their culture, ignoring the fact that the three century old American culture produced the powerhouse that is the current United States.
When cultures clash, violence results. The culture clash is easy to see in Europe, not so in the US. The Ferguson riots is an example of a culture clash. On one hand you have the traditional American culture. On the other, is the liberal culture of parasitism known as the welfare state.
The working people in Ferguson did not riot. It was the unworking class and imported agitators who rioted. The traditional American culture consists of both blacks and whites, Asians and Hispanics, who work, raise families, and thrive. The direct opposite of the rioters. That is the American culture clash and it isn’t over.
Would a change in police policies alleviate future culture clashes? I don’t know. What we do know is that the current policies of a paramilitary police aren’t working. Those policies alienate both side of that culture clash. Paramilitary home invasions in the middle of the night overcome any possible resistance. But when faced with hundreds, thousands of possibly armed opponents, policy is ineffective due to the lack of resolve by political leaders.
That drives the question—would the police have responded differently if the rioters in Ferguson were white protesters against, say, abortion? Would liberal politicians have reined in their paramilitary forces? It’s a good thing that situation has not occurred. The results could have been much different.