I have been following a debate on Twitter with great interest. The debate is around the subject of whether or not somebody should be arrested for putting part of their training into action as part of their lawful duties.
To me – that sounds like telling me I cannot type letters as part of my duties as an Office Administrator, even though I have been trained in the correct way of typing them, I have certificates which will prove that I am trained in this, and I have 15 years experience of successfully doing it (as part of my last job), because the mere act of me sitting at a typewriter or laptop is illegal.
Yes, I know the above may sound ridiculously absurd but it is a scenario faced by some of the people I follow on Twitter – except it isn't typing letters that they have to worry about the legality of. These humans have to worry about whether or not they will be prosecuted for driving a motorised Baked Bean Can - with Blue Flashing Lights on its lid - in strict accordance with their training in the event of them having an accident.
Now – according to me any vehicle which comes with Blue Flashing Lights fitted as standard should be subject to the rules of the Highway Code the same as everybody else. Except when the aforementioned Blue Flashing Lights are in fact flashing and their Deafeners - Sirens - are going (I wish the UK Emergency Service Vehicles had the same sirens as the Dutch ones – my ears prefer the more musical Dutch version). This may have something to do with the fact that the Flashing Lights and Sirens might indicate that they are on their way to an emergency (or – in the case of the Police – trying to stop a suspect either before or after a crime).
I suppose I was a bit like some of you might be when I first read about Police Officers being worried about being prosecuted if something went wrong and someone got injured or killed during a pursuit. Then I remembered one Twittercop had given an extremely good example of how a Police Officer is trained to drive even without Blue Flashing Lights. SgtTCS (yes – the brains behind the “Don't Stream And Drive” campaign) had actually recorded audio of himself on his drive from home to work saying exactly what he was looking out for and what he did (more importantly why he did it as well). I would still have my reservations about the idea of sitting in a car when he was behind the wheel though – this might have something to do with another time when Constable Chaos live-streamed SgtTCS approaching a roundabout (I am surprised the car didn't end up on the roundabout).
The thing that really woke me up to the idea that the Police might have something to grumble about was reading an article (or a Blog Post) by Sgt Harry Tangye detailing what a Police Officer legally has to say during a pursuit. It is not a case of the officer deciding to put the “Blues and Twos” on, floor the accelerator, and just enjoy the ride – far from it. They have to demonstrate they are in full control of both themselves and the vehicle at all times. Sgt Tangye even stated his exact qualifications for what he was doing (as in – the fact he is something called a “T-PAC Driver”).
Call me crazy but – if a Police Officer is qualified to drive with “Blues and Twos”, at high speeds, and has a duty to preserve both their own life and that of other road users – surely the onus is on the suspect (and the rest of the road-using public) to ensure they don't get caught up in any chaos caused by the pursuit???
Let's just say I was amazed to learn that a Police Officer needs special training before they can get behind the steering wheel of a Landrover type vehicle – whilst civilians can walk into any dealership and drive off in one providing they have got a licence and insurance (not forgetting having paid for the vehicle and got the consent of the seller first).
If we expect the Police to keep us safe they should be allowed to do their job without fear of arrest when things go wrong – provided they can prove that they have acted both within the limits of the law and the limits of their training.
The same goes for Firearms Officers. As long as the armed Officer doesn't start randomly firing at anybody and everything they see – they should be allowed to use their discretion and training to inform their judgement and actions.
The Police are our Protectors – but sometimes they need to be protected from the vagaries of the complicated laws which they are paid to uphold.