ONLY once in the past have police firearms officers handed in their authorisation cards and refused to take up weapons.
That was back in 2005 — and I was there.
Police and forensic teams at the scene of the Chris Kaba shooting in London in 2022[/caption]
Tony Long pictured at court in 2015[/caption]
That summer, two of our colleagues had been charged with deliberately killing Harry Stanley, who officers believed had a gun hidden in a carrier bag.
The weapon turned out to be a chair leg.
The shooting had happened six years earlier. But in June 2005, the two officers were arrested and charged with murder.
Sir John appeared to be a copper’s copper, who took off his jacket, rolled up his sleeves and said: “Let’s get to the bottom of this nonsense.”
He had been a firearms officer years before, when he had been on the Flying Squad, and he pledged to support us.
Within an hour he had promised us the world. We naively believed it. And then he retired and none of it happened.
For the past 18 years the way officers have been treated after an incident has got worse. That bad feeling has been festering, culminating in last Thursday.
Around 300 highly trained firearms officers handed in their blue authorisation cards in protest and refused to use their weapons.
Since his visit the Commissioner has sent a letter to Home Secretary Suella Braverman, pledging his support for firearms officers.
In his letter, Sir Mark said: “Where wrongdoing takes place the public expect us to be held to the highest standards.
“I have been clear on this in all areas of policing, and the use of force must be no exception.
“The system that judges officers’ actions should be rooted in integrity and decisions should be reached swiftly, competently and without fear or favour.”
Every single police officer knows from day one that if they find themselves using their firearm they will be investigated thoroughly.
They live with that. They absolutely get that.
But humans make mistakes.
If a doctor or a paramedic makes a genuine mistake there will be an inquiry — but they will not face a murder charge.
Firearms officers are concerned that now if they make a mistake, they end up in the dock charged with murder.
The other problem is the IOPC and the CPS seemingly have no time limits on their investigations. So officers can be investigated for years.
I was deployed on hundreds of armed operations and in 2005 I shot suspected armed robber and drug dealer Azelle Rodney.
By the time I had stood trial for murder and was acquitted it was ten years after the shooting.
Long waits for justice have become the norm. Officer prison van. That was eight years ago.80 shot a suspect in a stolen car allegedly waiting to free prisoners from a
He still has a cloud hanging over him. He is awaiting a discipline board for gross misconduct, despite being cleared of any wrongdoing.
These men are highly trained and it takes a lot of taxpayers’ money to train them.
Normally, hundreds apply for the department each year.
I understand this year only 50 did so and just 30 made it through the selection process and are being currently trained.
Out of those it is not uncommon for at least 50 per cent tothe intensive 15-week course.
For an Armed Response Vehicle Officer to progress to Counter Terrorist Specialist Firearms Teams takes a further 21 weeks of often dangerous training, with an even greater attrition rate.
Very few put themselves up for the training. But when they do what they are trained to do, they are discarded.
All grown up enough
If you ask any of the officers who have handed in their blue cards what they think of the proposals that have been made by Commissioner Rowley they will undoubtedly agree with it all.
A lot of the content is exactly what they have been requesting for years. That is exactly what they are asking for.
The concern is that the boss of the Met is only doing this because they have withdrawn their labour.
If the Commissioner can convince them he will pursue his promises — and they realise they won’t get everything — they will probably return to work.
However, I have no doubt that if senior management try to bury it, as they did in the past, the matter will simply return.
And yet again the capital will be left less protected than it should be.
Today is different from 2005, we have moved on. We are not as naïve as we perhaps were back then.
This time the guys and girls have had enough.
Forensics team outside The Railway Tavern at the scene[/caption]