Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Is Now the Hour to Arm Our Police?

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Is Now the Hour to Arm Our Police?

Article excerpt

Byline: Angus Hoy

The head of Cleveland Police Authority today called for the Government to consider arming police officers in the wake of the brutal killing of a West Yorkshire officer.

And Councillor Ken Walker said he personally backed calls by former Cleveland Chief Constable Keith Hellawell for killers of police officers to face the death penalty.

Cllr Walker urged Home Secretary David Blunkett to consider the possibility of arming all operational police officers.

He was speaking out in the aftermath of the Boxing Day shooting of traffic bobby Ian Broadhurst in Leeds.

PC Broadhurst was gunned down and his colleague Neil Roper seriously injured after they had gone to investigate a suspiciously parked car.

The driver of the car, which had been stolen, opened fire with a handgun after being placed in the back seat of the officers' patrol car.

A third officer, who had been called in to help, had a miraculous escape when a bullet ricocheted off his radio and baton holster.

Cllr Walker said: "The death of PC Broadhurst and the serious wounding of a fellow officer underlines the stark fact that every day our police are at risk from criminals who have no difficulty in gaining access to weapons - and no qualms about using them.

"The very fact that, while most of us were enjoying our Christmas, Ian Broadhurst was paying the ultimate sacrifice in protecting the public brings home in a very terrible way the dangers which face every police officer."

Cllr Walker said it was time for the Home Secretary, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Police Federation and the public to consider a change in existing policies on the arming of officers.

"Ian Broadhurst was not a member of the National Crime Squad, the Anti-Terrorist Squad or Special Branch, but a traffic patrol officer simply carrying out the regular job of checking in a stolen car," he said.

"In the last 30 years 50 unarmed officers have been murdered while on duty - but as far as I am aware not one officer carrying firearms has been killed. …

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