There was fresh controversy over police methods last night after officers shot a man three times with a Taser gun and punched him repeatedly as he writhed on the ground.
The headline makes a good point, I did indeed believe this to be some US city, such incidents are in the papers on a regular basis (such as the recent tasing of a 72 year old woman), instead it turned out to be my home town.
I am not sure what shocked me more; that my local police have tasers or that those gentleman in navy T-Shirts and body warmers were police officers.
Only in America
It seems that the use of tasers has somewhat passed me by, I knew that some forces were trialling them, but in my naivety I thought that they would never be rolled out across the board and certainly rarely used, after all, this isn’t America. Criminals here rarely carry guns, or even knives, so the need for such a weapon is debatable.
We have pepper spray (also from the US), expandable batons (again from the US) and now tasers? What are next, guns? I remember when the simple wooden truncheon was enough.
Back then the mere threat of getting brained by a police officer was enough for most people to do as they were told and submit. Those that didn’t were soon coshed into submission.
Sure, they were deadly but then police officers only used them when they had to and when they whipped them out, you knew that they meant business.
Today police officers wear Batman style utility belts containing everything that they could possibly need – for a riot. This, in my view, has made them lazy. Why bother trying to calm a suspect down when a spray in the face with the pepper spray will incapacitate him? Or a quick blast on the taser?
Neither leave any lasting harm or marks so can be pretty much used with impunity, and apparently they are. It is so much easier for police to shoot first and ask questions later that many of them are doing precisely that, albeit without guns.
The man in the video was already on the ground, already subdued, he just wasn’t doing as he was told, and so he was punished, physically. If two police officers do not know how to cuff a prone man, then what good are they?
At one point there were six police officer holding the suspect down, now, unless he had the strength of ten men, this seems to me to be a tad bit of an overkill, particularly as he had been tasered a couple of times already. The man was rolling around on the floor, drunk by the looks of him, yet still a couple of the officers stood on him and punched him, just to be sure.
About 50 onlookers saw the whole thing and needless to say, whatever respect they still had for the police was washed away watching that performance.
This isn’t helped one bit by the ridiculous outfits that our police now wear. Once the police uniform was unmistakable, now all the police officers seem to think that they are part of a SWAT unit. I’m not even sure I can tell a traffic warden or even a park warden from a police officer anymore.
We seem to have this problem with uniforms in Britain at present, as if uniforms are somehow bad and create a barrier between ordinary people and those that wear them (and tasers and batons don’t), they are all being slowly changed. Nurses no longer look like nurses, the police look like fast food workers and doctors no longer wear white coats; even soldiers are discouraged from wearing their uniforms.
Uniforms command respect, they are an instant visual identity. Had I witnessed those two men in casual dress attacking a poor drunken man in the street, I would never have realised that they were police officers. They are not even smartly dressed. What happened to hats? To ties? White shirts?
There is nothing old fashioned about looking smart and the old uniform commanded respect, whilst projecting an image of honesty, integrity and trustworthiness, whether justified or not.
I am also sure that pulling on such a well regarded and esteemed uniform meant something to the officers too, and made them try to live up to it and be more cautious in their actions.
It certainly made an impression on Constable Marlow, who still patrols the streets in his home town in his old uniform. A casual modern uniform just nurtures a casual and lazy culture amongst our tin pot police. They are now more interested in just being obeyed than doing the right thing.
Such casual use of what is in effect a torture device (imagine if they used it whilst interviewing suspects, makes waterboarding seem light hearted by comparision), is most worrying. A police officer should never inflict pain on someone merely for non compliance.
Now it seems whilst walking around in crime ridden Nottingham, I am going to have to keep one eye on the ne’er do wells and another eye on the police, lest I get caught up in one of their urban pacifications.