2008-04-22 : Letter : Deficient warning shot policy


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2008-04-22 : Letter : Deficient warning shot policy

Postby GOSA » Fri, 2008-05-16 11:41

Deficient warning shot policy
Letters 22 Apr 2008

WE have had several accounts recently of circumstances in which
police officers have, or have not, fired warning shots prior to
apprehending violent, potentially lethal suspects or criminals.
Indeed, it appears that they are actually obliged to do so,
sometimes at their peril, as in the case of the brave officer
recently murdered by knife-wielding assailants.

If such obligations regarding warning shots are indeed required,
one wonders if those insisting upon them have sufficiently
thought through the implications. The most obvious is what
happens to the warning rounds fired? If fired into the air
outside, they obviously must land somewhere, up to a kilometre
or so from the scene. In a built-up area, the hazards to people
and property are not insubstantial. If fired into the ground,
there is equally an obvious risk to anyone present, innocent or
otherwise, being injured by a ricochet or shattered material.
The requirement, where practicable, for a clear verbal warning
that the officer is armed, followed by a succinct demand to
desist from life-threatening behaviour immediately or else, is

But why the insistence on a warning shot? It affords the
criminal critical extra milliseconds to avoid arrest by
eliminating the officer, endangering people present and
facilitating escape, perhaps with the officer´s service weapon
and adding to the armoury available to the criminal fraternity?
If such a warning shot policy exists, I respectfully suggest an
urgent review is undertaken. Many overseas police services have
realistic and proven policies which take account of the law,
civil liberties, the preservation of life and property, but
nevertheless provide protection to armed police and the public
without a warning shot requirement. Our brave police officers
and innocents in the vicinity deserve no less.
What have YOU done for YOUR rights today?
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