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« UK has nothing on French race riots | Main | Empathising with "terrorists" »
Thursday
Nov172005

Police boss should go

Britain's top cop, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, today called for a national debate on the type of police force the British want. In the aftermath of the coldbloded murder by police of young Brazilian  Jean Charles de Menezes, we say to him: Accept responsibility, ditch the shoot-to-kill policy, and resign:

The Metropolitan Police have pulled all the strings within their grasp to land this public relations coup - the Richard Dimbleby lecture.

Or it could be that some fan involved with the Dimbleby platform felt it okay to allow Sir Ian Blair (pictured, right) to say his piece, ianblair.jpeggiven the mauling he has received since the cold-blooded murder by his officers of an innocent man who just happened to look non-white in the immediate aftermath of the London bombings.

Jean Charles de Menezes - the "suspected terrorist" -  was a young man, an innocent man going about his lawful business when he was cut down in the prime of his life, going to work to send money to his impoverished parents in Brazil the very moment he was killed by officers executing a shoot-to-kill policy sanctioned by Blair.

Blair may mouth all the Hail Marys and apologias he likes, but that will not change the fact that the police have been operating a shoot-to-kill policy for as long as I can remember. Forget about the so-called Operation Kratos, the policy of shooting to kill suspected suicide bombers. The Met's policy has always been to shoot-to-kill.

I do not have the statistics to hand, but can confidently say that all reports I have read or heard of, involving the police attending a scene where a member of the public was carrying a weapon, the result has invariably been that the police shot and killed that person.

There was the guy who was carrying a table leg that was allegedly mistaken as a firearm. He was killed, as many others. The police never shoot at a suspect's leg or arm or shoulder. They always shoot to kill. They may be trying to send a message to prospective arms-carriers, but that is beside the point.

Those who have the resources to do the research can do so, but what I do know is that this shoot-to-kill policy did not begin with Mr de Menezes - and will not end with him.

Even when they have not used firearms, the history of police intervention in many interpersonal disputes and arrests has been the deaths of many suspects.

It is a case of the police becoming investigators, then arresting officers, then - depending on the demeanor of the arrestee or the officers - prosecutor, juror and, finally, executioner.

The researchers should also look at the numbers of deaths in police custody - mainly, as a matter of fact, of "threatening" black men.

The only reason Sir Ian has come down a notch to address the public on their shoot to kill policy is because he feels threatened. He knows that he has to play his PR cards right if he is to maintain his cushy position at the head of the police.

We do not need a debate about this. It should be self evident: if people do not pose an immediate threat to life - even if they happen to be armed - do not shoot to kill them.

Is that so hard to understand?

Now, Sir Ian, please take responsibility for your officers' actions - and in the process signal that this inhuman policy has been chucked into the dustbin of history - by handing in your resignation like the honourable man you claim to be.