Law and Order Volume: 50 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2002 Pages: 22-24,26,28
This article focuses on the Tactical Firearms Unit in Manchester, England.
The area under the jurisdiction of the Greater Manchester Police is approximately 500 square miles. From April 1 to September 30, 2000, guns were used in the commission of 788 criminal acts--an increase of over 25 percent from the previous year. The Greater Manchester Police consists of 7,000 officers and 3,300 support personnel. The Tactical Firearms Unit consists of 127 officers split into 2 primary functions: Armed Response Vehicles (ARV) and Tactical Operations Team. All officers in this unit are trained, qualified, and licensed to carry their firearms on duty. Service is voluntary. All applicants are subjected to an extensive selection process that encompasses a rigorous psychological and physical examination; psychometric, neuromotor skills; and personality and ability to deploy a firearm. For the Tactical Firearms Unit, the first responders to an incident such as a shooting spree would be tactical officers patrolling in the ARVs. The ARVs patrol the area 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round. Their patrols are designed to deter criminal activity and crime patterns in certain parts of the city. The ARVs are all bullet-resistant 4.0-Liter Range Rovers specially prepared for police use and built to specification. Each ARV is manned by two armed officers and equipped with all of the basic tactical equipment the officers could require in the field. The initial firearms training course in the unit lasts for 3 weeks on basic handgun skills, and 1 week learning the very basics of submachine guns. Training for officers inside the unit is rigorous and consistent. Realistic training scenarios are used as a tangible learning tool that officers can use out on the streets. Interaction between highway officers and the ARVs is the secret behind every successful pursuit of an armed criminal. Coordination between responding ARVs is also an essential element behind executing a successful car-stop.
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