Monday, November 21, 2005

For Those Who Give Their Lives For Us

Two articles in this Sunday's Observer are worth a second read.

The first is an article by Jimmy Carter who is fearful for an America that appears to have abandoned its fundamental values; "This is not the country that I once knew".

The second article by Henry Porter compares culture, way of life and managing the budget in Canada and America; "It's great up north".

On Friday, PC Sharon Beshenivsky and PC Teresa Milburn responded to an emergency 999 call that a robbery was in progress at a travel agent's in Bradford Town Centre. Seconds after arriving at the scene, PC Beshenivsky had been shot dead, and her colleague and friend, PC Milburn had been wounded in the shoulder. Sharon Beshenivsky, 38 mother to 3 children and step-mother to 2 more had been a mature recruit, having only joined 9 months previously. From all accounts, working in the Police was her dream career. Her husband has said that her killers were "cowards", - I can only agree. To make the tragedy even worse, if that was possible, Friday was her daughter's 4th birthday. My thoughts are very much with her family at this time.

However, it immediately raised a number of issues, the 2 main ones: hanging for those who kill police men and women, and routinely arming all police.

Even after this calamitous tragedy, I am totally opposed to both those sentiments. For me, the proposal for executing police killers is no different to capital punishment in general. Killing is wrong, whether judicial or criminal, there is no evidence that capital punishment ever deters, - just look at America, and so it just becomes a tool of vengeance. This is not the way for a civilised society to behave. Society should be higher moral standards than those who kill during criminal activity.

Secondly, arming the police will only make things worse. If criminals know that if they were to be confronted by police wearing arms, then they will carry guns as well. The police themselves say that the main problem they are faced with is not guns but knives, which is why their body armour is geared towards stopping stabbing than stopping bullets. I do not want the UK to go down the same road as France and the USA where police routinely draw their weapons when making an arrest. I am proud that I live in a country where the vast majority of the police are unarmed, and generally operate in an atmosphere of consent. Maybe the percentage of armed officers needs to rise, but the routine arming of the police, - no thanks.


sandegaye said...

It just keeps escalating doesn't it?
Pretty soon we arrive at a police state.
Just sad..

Mark said...

I'll never accept a police state. The problem is that once we start down that road, it is very hard to stop the juggernaut to an armed militia. Greater protection for the police, - yes; arming them routinely, no.

Eddie said...

I agree completely with your sentiments about capital punishment. I find it extremely offensive for anybody to think that the life of a police officer is effectively worth more than that of an "ordinary" person.
I do disagree, however, about arming the police. I think that criminals now carry guns for the exact reason that they know the police do not. I believe that if they thought they could be challenged by an officer who could use an equal, lethal force, they may just have second thoughts.
Also, I don't want to be protected from an armed criminal, out on the street, by an unarmed officer who might have to give up his/her life because they couldn't respond in an appropriate way.
Apparently, most American cops only unholster their weapons once a year, on the range. Considering the number of guns in private,( and criminal), hands that speaks volumes for having an armed and well trained constabulary.
I suspect we'll have to agree to disagree on this, but what the hell, you even think Union's better than League!

Mark said...

Your right Eddie, I do disagree, and according to the Police Federation, they also disagree. It would not have helped those 2 policewomen if they had been armed, according to all reports I've read, they were shot as soon as they came through the door. The police have said quite recently that guns are not the main problem they face, but knives which is why their body armour is specifically designed for knives, - not guns. 99% of criminals do not use firearms in their criminal activity, but that percentage would surely change if we did routinely arm our police. I do not want to see guns on the streets of Wigan. Armed police do not make me feel safe.