I am alarmed! Why? Because of your ignorance of modern policing and the threats posed to your Officers. Who am I to comment? Firstly I am a constituent of Powys and have been for 4 yrs now. Previously I was a Metropolitan Police Officer between 1990 and 2008 when I was finally medically retired, which hence gives me plenty of time to keep you politicians accountable!
During my service in the Metropolitan Police my class mate from Hendon Police College and relief colleague (team mate), and close friend Patrick Dunne was shot resulting in his death in October 1993 at the hands of a drug dealer. In October 1999 I lost a good friend Kalwant Sidhu who fell to his death whilst pursuing burglars. In August 1996, I was shot with a machine gun during an armed robbery on a bank in Stockwell.
Many other Officers during my career also lost their lives and many, many others were severely injured, but rarely make the news headlines as it is not shocking enough for the media to bother with! So in terms of whether to routinely arm Officers with Tasers, then I feel I am eminently qualified to pass comment. I will cover many aspects along with Tasers in this letter so please be patient.
When I joined all those years back I was sure that the UK Police should be unarmed. Now I can hear the cogs whirring. Ah, but now having been shot and had colleagues and friends lose their lives, you have now changed your mind! Actually no. during most of my service even having been through and witnessed many things that you as a Commissioner never will, I was still in favour of an unarmed Police Force, albeit my opinion is beginning to change.
Your comments as reported on the BBC News website on the 31st January 2014 show your ignorance of Policing issues, it also shows your lack of understanding of how times have and are changing.
But Dyfed-Powys commissioner Mr Salmon said: "Routine arming with Tasers would be a mistake and counter to the traditions of British policing."
You quite clearly have little or no idea as you simply say that routinely arming officers with Tasers would be a mistake, but declined to give any explanation as to why, even though you had the platform to expound your views. You then fall back on the tried and tested phrase "Counter to the traditions of British Policing." This in the year 2015 is now, no longer anything more than a sound bite!
British Policing has for the last 10-15 years, and colleagues and ex-colleagues with more service than I, would suggest longer, has been undergoing cuts and "modernisation" in an effort to make the institution more cost effective! Cost effective! Unfortunately the Police will NEVER be cost effective as they do nothing but cost the country money. But, what would you do without them?
Recently we are being told about how crime is falling, however there is still the ongoing scandal about crime reporting figures being manipulated and frankly this suits Political agendas and so I see no change in this corrupt practice as it is politically not in their interest to have real crime figures as the public would be appalled.
Now to Tasers. Over the last 25+ years whilst we as a country have been ensconced in various wars around the world, namely Afghanistan and Iraq X 2. We ignored history but continued anyway. Okay if that's what the politicians believe we should do then so beit, but they then have a responsibility to the citizens of this country to keep them safe. However we have to then deal with the consequences of these wars, one of which is the radicalisation and terrorist threat here in the UK. Drummer Lee Rigby should stick in the craw of politicians. You should be angry.
Sadly this does not seem to be the case as time marches on. This brutal killing was the first, it will not be the last as we have seen from arrests in the midlands to give but one example. To use the phrase "counter to the traditions of British Policing" is quite frankly ridiculous. What you're actually saying is that it is okay for 99% of the country to be without armed Officers, but that Westminster should be flooded with them as Politicians lives are more important and they are more risk than those of the rest of us! I don't remember reading in the press that a specific threat had been made towards Politicians!
I am not saying that they shouldn't be protected with armed Police Officers, but what I am saying is that with huge numbers of Officers being stripped from the country, then every Officer who steps onto the streets is at an increased risk due to single crewing (which frankly is and always has been ridiculous), and as you should be aware the increased distances and response times in the sparsely populated county of Powys. Primarily the average Officer has a baton, handcuffs and CS spray. Of course CS spray is really only effective at about 2 yards and then only if the wind is in the right direction and if you're not in a building.
Times have and are changing. The time will come, soon that an Officer will lose their lives. It will be as a result of what most would term a 'terrorist attack', so therefore it is incumbent on you the politicians to bite the bullet (excuse the pun) and take this minimal step to arm Officers who wish to be armed, with Tasers. One further step that should be taken, is that provision should be made in legislation for them to routinely be allowed to carry them, IF they wish to 24/7. To simply say, that Officers should not go to work in 'half blues' is not a sufficient response. I would go as far as to say it is negligent to allow things to continue as they are and you and your fellow politicians have a duty of care to our Police Officers.
The time will come in this country when Police Officers will be routinely armed. Has that time come? I'm not sure that it has, but a Taser is NOT a firearm, and so you should accept the responsibility for your Officers safety and take this small step.
I and your Officers await your response