War on Terrorism

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Police and Firearms in England

Note: the realities of terrorism and the concept of the unarmed Bobby seem to be increasingly in conflict.

Police-Writers.com is a website dedicated to listing state and local police officers who have authored books. The website also separately lists international as well as domestic federal
law enforcement officials who have written books. Today, the list added Michael J. Waldren, an expert on the use of firearms by the police in the United Kingdom.

In 1967, after attending college,
Michael J. Waldren joined the Metropolitan Police Service in London. During College, Michael Waldren developed a keen interest firearms and shooting. Following his interest, in 1977, Michael, then a sergeant, joined the Firearms Unit of the London Metropolitan Police as an instructor. At the same time, he was also a member of the Operational Firearms Team.

Today, since the vast majority of Bobbies (London Police Officers) do not carry firearms, only certain
police officers are trained and armed with firearms. They are called Authorised Firearms Officer (AFO). According to Metropolitan Police Service firearms policy, “the MPS provides an armed capability to assist in the combat of armed criminality within both the Metropolitan Police District and throughout the United Kingdom. These duties will also include diplomatic protection, Royalty protection, airport security, court security, armed surveillance, armed personal protection, proactive armed operations and Central London security patrols. The MPS will only arm officers how have undergone a specific selection and training programme and each Authorised Firearms Officer (AFO) will be equipped in accordance with their training and role. AFOs will be required to maintain specific leaves of training and fitness in order to continue their role.”

In 1982,
Michael Waldren was promoted to Inspector. His first major command responsibility was at the Libyan Peoples Bureau in 1984. In the late 1970s he was regularly being asked by the media and television companies about the history of police use of firearms and he found that there were very few books on the subject. His research developed into a 1986 book which he co-authored on the subject of police use of firearms in England; tracing the history back to 1829 when the Metropolitan Police Service was first formed by Sir Robert Peel.

In 1987, now a Chief Inspector,
Michael Waldren he became the MPS chief firearms instructor and as a result he sat on several national committees, which ultimately formulated police firearms policy throughout the United Kingdom. In 1992, he was promoted to Superintendent and in 1994, he was promoted to Chief Superintendent. In 1999, Michael Waldren was awarded the Queens Police Medal for Distinguished Police Service. He retired in 2000.

Michael Waldren authored the book Armed Police: The Police Use of Firearms Since 1945. According to the book description, “On 7 July 2005, just before 9 am, explosive devices detonated on London Underground trains at Liverpool Street, Edgware Road and Kings Cross stations and on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square. Fifty-six people were killed and over 700 injured. Suicide bombing had come to Britain. Two weeks later, the capital's commuters narrowly missed disaster when four more devices failed to explode. Security in London was increased to unprecedented levels as Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Ian Blair said his force faced 'its largest operational challenge since the war'. Heavily armed police officers patrolling the streets became a regular feature of television news programmes, leaving an enduring impression that unarmed policing in Britain had gone forever and with it the kindly image of the archetypal British bobby. Controversy rages over the increased use of firearms because in the public mind, the hallmark of British security has always been unarmed policing. Now, for the first time, former Head of the Metropolitan Police Firearms Unit, Michael Waldren, gives his insider account of the changes in Britain's policing, spanning over half a century and including many examples of extraordinary heroism, tragedy, controversy, comedy, intrigue and occasional farce.”

According to Bryn Elliott, the editor of Police Aviation News (United Kingdom), “The arrival for review of Armed Police: The Police use of Firearms since 1945 by
Michael J. Waldren was like meeting an old friend after a long time apart. A decade ago Michael Waldren teamed up with Bob Gould to write the broadly similar ‘London’s Armed Police’ which effectively covered the history and development of arming the police in the Capital City. The title has been out of print for many years.

The new book effectively updates the same story in some detail since 1945 and although it appears to suggest a treatment in a far wider context it remains very much faithful to that original theme. There are stories from other parts of the UK but from the number omitted I would assume that the knowledge displayed of them is more autobiographical rather that based on pure research. They are very selective.

Likewise the later chapters appear to have become bogged down in reciting too much detail on the reasons the Metropolitan
Police pulled their firearms operations out of their main base of Lippitts Hill for the tastes of the average reader. In the main though it is a good factual read and a worthy update on the original.”

Police-Writers.com now hosts 560 police officers (representing 234 police departments) and their 1179 books in six categories, there are also listings of United States federal
law enforcement employees turned authors, international police officers who have written books and civilian police personnel who have written books.

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