Strict rules for officers carrying guns on patrol

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Shanghai Daily, April 21, 2014
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More than 1,000 police officers now carry guns when on routine patrol in Shanghai as part of a national security campaign.

Two officers armed with revolvers are seen in Shanghai yesterday, the first day when more than 1,000 members of the city's police force were allowed to carry guns on routine patrol.[Photo/Xinhua]

Two officers armed with revolvers are seen in Shanghai yesterday, the first day when more than 1,000 members of the city's police force were allowed to carry guns on routine patrol.[Photo/Xinhua]

The city’s public security bureau said the decision to arm officers comes in the wake of the fatal knife attack in the southwestern city of Kunming last month when 29 people were killed and 143 injured.

“Violent crime and the extreme behavior of some individuals have become real threats to public security and people’s safety,” said city police official Rui Minghua.

“From now on, Shanghai police can open fire to stop violent crime if faced with situations like the Kunming attack.”

The 9mm revolver issued to the officers yesterday was specially designed by the Ministry of Public Security and can shoot both real and rubber bullets.

Police officials said the gun will never jam and its power is moderate to help reduce accidental injuries.

It also has three safety measures built in to ensure that it won’t fire accidentally, even if dropped on the ground.

The police bureau said that more than 1,000 officers had passed strict evaluations to carry guns on patrol from a pool of 4,000.

Each revolver, printed with a unique 10-digit code, is linked to one officer only for both training and work.

Officers will carry the guns while on duty and return them to their police station after their shift ends.

In addition to the gun, Shanghai police officers will carry seven other pieces of equipment with them — cartridge clip, tear gas, baton, handcuffs, flashlight, emergency bag and walkie-talkie.

The armed officers will carry out patrols in pairs in densely populated areas, such as urban centers and transport hubs. In an emergency they are expected to reach the scene within five minutes, the bureau said.

To ensure safety and prevent abuse, the Shanghai bureau has issued specific regulations on how to get, wear, use and return guns. For example, officers must write a report if a gun is drawn, no matter whether it is fired or not.

Chinese police generally do not carry guns and gun crime is rare in China, which has tight control on firearms. It has been 60 years since the last time Shanghai police were armed with guns and some residents may still have concerns over safety, said Rui, an official with the patrol police division.

The police bureau solicited public opinion before it made the armed patrol decision.

Rui told Xinhua news agency: “The feedback showed that citizens are wide open to the new move and, actually, they are sort of looking forward to it.

“We do so to raise the public sense of security and we are confident in ensuring that the firearms are safely used and keeping firearm abuse to a minimum.”

There are 15 situations where officers can fire at suspects. These include the hijacking of planes, ships, trains and vehicles or suspects involved in violent attacks that put lives at risk.

Immediately after using a gun, an officer has to make a verbal report to his command center and complete a detailed written report within six hours.

If there are casualties, the officer also needs to specify what he sees and hears before firing, what warnings he gives, how many shots are fired and the distance between him and the suspects.

In addition to Shanghai, the public security ministry named some other key cities, such as Changsha, Kunming, Urumqi and Lhasa, where public security will be reinforced to effectively prevent and crack down on criminal activities, Xinhua said.

The ministry launched a three-month program in March to train officers in using firearms in accordance with the law. Training focused on those on street patrol and who handle emergencies in major cities and county-level regions, Xinhua said.

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