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Perceptions of British policing

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  • Perceptions of British policing

    I am a serving British police officer and I am currently writing a book about Policing in Britain, focussing on public attitudes to Policing and how Policing itself has developed in the last two hundred years. It is purely for my own entertainment but I am trying to ensure that it is accurate and well researched whilst hopefully not being too dull.

    I am hoping for responses to two questions.

    The first is a response, whether long or short, to the question: "What is your perception of British police officers?" This can either be drawn from working with British officers or from what you have read or seen on TV and in movies. Since I am interested in perception, I am interested in both. Your perception does not have to be complimentary - I'm pretty thick skinned and I won't take it personally. Also, I recognise that it is a very broad question - however you interpret it, that's the response I'm interested in.

    The second question is aimed at people who are interested in the history of policing in their own countries. It is: "What police forces or other public law enforcement bodies are you aware of whose officers were initially unarmed but which transitioned to routinely arming them?" For the avoidance of doubt, by "unarmed" I mean not routinely carrying a firearm. An explanation as to why the transition was made would also be extremely helpful.

    Any answers, gratefully received. I will also post this in International Policing - apologies if that is contrary to any site rules.

    I'm a little bit waayy, a little bit wooah, a little bit woosh, I'm a geezer.

  • #2
    Don’t quote me, but I believe that the NYPD, which was originally modeled after your Metropolitan Police, was initially unarmed. We’re talking 1850’s or so.

    I know they weren’t routinely issued a revolver for some time, however officers frequently carried one if they personally owned one. They had a lot of violent crime, riots, drunken Irish fresh off the boat to deal with, and I’m sure any number of problems causing a need for a pistol.

    It’s also of historical interest, that most uniformed police officers of the day didn’t carry a pistol openly. Many carried a small pocket pistol under their uniform coat. In fact my own agency often prides itself as being one of the first large agencies to adopt the “new idea” of open carry as a means of deterring a violent encounter.
    I make my living on Irish welfare.

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    • #3
      Officers on the East Coast were routinely unarmed, or carried a small personally owned firearm. Firearms manufacturers such as Colt made pocket pistols specifically for police use, but officers pretty much carried on their own instead of as a directive from their department. In a landmark case (sorry, I don't recall the case) from NY in the 1800's a police officer who was armed with his own pistol shot and killed a criminal. He was tried for the shooting death and the jury found that it was reasonable for a police officer to use deadly force against another based on the circumstances. This case law opened up the floodgates and established the legality of police officers being armed, and being able to use deadly force in the performance of their duties.

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      • #4
        Thank you both. I have read something along these lines about the US but truthfully, have more than had more work cut out ploughing through the British historical stuff.
        I'm a little bit waayy, a little bit wooah, a little bit woosh, I'm a geezer.

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