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Über dieses Buch

This book challenges what are, for many people, deep-rooted expectations regarding the routine arming of police and compares jurisdictions in which police are routinely armed (Toronto, Canada and Brisbane, Australia) and those where police are not routinely armed (Manchester, England and Auckland, New Zealand). With a focus on Western jurisdictions and by examining a range of documentary, media and data sources, this book provides an evidence-based examination of the question: Do police really need guns?

This book first provides detailed insight into the armed policing tradition and perceptions/expectations with respect to police and firearms. A range of theoretical concepts regarding policing, state power and the use of force is applied to an examination of what makes the police powerful. This is set against the minimum force tradition, which is typified by policing in England and Wales. Consideration is also given to the role played by key tropes and constructs of popular culture. Drawing on Surette’s model of symbolic reality, the book considers contrasting media traditions and the positioning of firearms within narrative arcs, especially the role of heroes. The book concludes by drawing together the key themes and findings, and considering the viability of retaining and/or moving towards non-routinely armed police.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
In the modern State, police are the sole agents of authorised violence. Many other agencies and services are vital to a society’s well-being, but underpinning all of them is the police, who have both the right and the duty to use violence, up to and including lethal force, on behalf of the community as a whole. The use of force by police is one of the most important issues facing any community. You might then expect that there would be detailed and exhaustive studies of the police use of firearms, and the implications of arming police for the safety of police and the community. However, this is not the case. There is rhetoric aplenty, from both opponents of and advocates for routinely armed police, but almost no empirically informed evidence. In this introduction, we set the scene for the detailed exploration of the theory and practice of police use of force, and especially the use of firearms, which makes up this book. We outline the structure and briefly summarise each chapter, and also explain the “American paradox”: why this book examines influential American models of policing, both in scholarship and popular culture, but does not contain a US case study.
Richard Evans, Clare Farmer

Chapter 2. The Edge of the Knife: The Paradox of Police Power

Abstract
As is true of power more generally, the power of police is an under-researched and under-theorised aspect of society. Most policing textbooks evade the question of what constitutes police power, instead creating a brief narrative arc, one of rationalist progress from semi-mythologised origins to contemporary legal and administrative structures. The extensive critique of policing in capitalist society from a Marxist perspective, which situates policing as an expression of the violence which is fundamental to capitalism, is acknowledged. However, we criticise as a major weakness the “implied alternative”: a social formation which does not rely on violence or the threat of violence. We argue that all societies are underpinned by violence; that all societies have policing in some form; and that large, complex modern societies require a reasonably professional and disciplined police organisation to function. This is the consequence of the Hobbesian social contract: individual citizens surrender their rights to use violence in return for the protection of the State. The benefits of this arrangement can be explained by borrowing Talcott Parson’s “monetary model” of power. By this view, police power is analogous to a fiscal system: the “power banks” of the State, of which the police are the most important, allow people to use power which is not their own. Like a fiscal system, police power too is dependent on public trust and confidence. This informs the notion of policing by consent, and the doctrine of minimum force which are explored in Chap. 3.
Richard Evans, Clare Farmer

Chapter 3. ‘Only the Minimum Degree’: The Minimum Force Tradition

Abstract
The doctrine of minimum force is deeply engrained across policing scholarship and practice. To understand its origin, writers typically look to the 1829 creation of the New Police in London, and “Peel’s Principles”. Despite an uncertain provenance, the Principles remain enormously influential. In this chapter, we explore the surprisingly flimsy theoretical underpinning of minimum force policing. Among the more substantial contributions in this field are Egon Bittner’s theories on policing and the use of force, and David Bayley’s examination of police organisations as political actors in their own right. However, we argue that there remains a lack of a coherent theory underpinning the minimum force doctrine, and that this is of concern. In many jurisdictions police are becoming increasingly militarized, and there is growing pressure for officers to take a more aggressive approach in their dealings with offenders, as discussed in Chap. 4.
Richard Evans, Clare Farmer

Chapter 4. ‘As Well Armed as the Criminal’: The Armed Tradition

Abstract
Contrasting with the doctrine of minimum force policing is the armed tradition of policing, which is explored in this chapter. In the Anglophone world, the armed tradition has two major streams. One derives from the centralised, mounted constabulary model widely used in the British Empire in colonial times. The other emerged from the community-based and less-disciplined policing services of the United States. In recent years the influence of the American armed tradition has become more widespread, a trend often referred to as militarisation. We use an Australian police organisation as a case study in how militarisation has led to changes in the uniforms and equipment of operational police. We also use American professional policing journals to interrogate the assumptions which underpin the armed tradition, particularly that police require powerful firearms, both to protect the community and to be safe themselves. We find a paucity of both coherent theory and real-world evidence to support these assumptions. We conclude that, as is true of the minimum force doctrine, the armed tradition of policing needs to be tested against evidence.
Richard Evans, Clare Farmer

Chapter 5. Operationalising Minimum Force: The Need for Evidence

Abstract
In Chaps. 3 and 4, we examined the minimum force and armed traditions of policing. We drew attention to key assumptions which frame support for both routinely armed and routinely unarmed policing, and highlighted the absence of empirical evidence to underpin any argument for change. In this chapter we introduce our comparative study, which set out to develop an evidence base to inform understanding of the effects on safety of the routine arming of police officers. We explain the rationale and research design for our study, the choice of four locations used in our analysis, and the ways in which minimum force is operationalised in each. We then document our research method and approach, and also acknowledge a number of methodological limitations.
Richard Evans, Clare Farmer

Chapter 6. ‘The Law of the Instrument’: Examining the Nexus Between Safety and the Routine Arming of Police Officers

Abstract
This chapter builds on the historical, theoretical and conceptual discussions of previous chapters, and presents the findings of our comparative examination of community safety, police officer safety, and the routine arming of police officers. We explore how safety, a complex construct, can be usefully measured, and then compare in detail the four chosen jurisdictions. Using publicly available data, published documents and media sources, we analyse patterns of crime, behaviour and risk, and explore the relationship between the routine arming of police officers, community and police officer safety. Precise causal relationships are difficult to establish with certainty. Our analysis is framed within a “positive effect” construct. The armed tradition of policing is underpinned by the assertion that the routine arming of police enables and ensures both community and police officer safety (see Chap. 4). If this assertion is correct, then in jurisdictions where police officers are routinely armed, the occurrence and rates of key categories of crime will be lower than in jurisdictions whose police are deployed without routinely carrying firearms, as will key measures of police officer safety. We also explore the idea of the “law of the instrument”: the proposition that the availability of a particular response increases the likelihood that it will be used, even in situations where other solutions are more appropriate. This principle would predict that routinely armed police are more likely to use firearms in situations where such use is not absolutely essential, even though all four jurisdictions have clear expectations of minimum-force policing (see Chap. 3). We conclude that the claimed benefits of the armed tradition of policing—a safer community protected by safer police officers—are not supported by the evidence. There is also some evidence to support the law of the instrument: routinely armed police are more likely to use firearms, despite operating under the same minimum-force doctrine as their unarmed colleagues.
Richard Evans, Clare Farmer

Chapter 7. ‘The Devil’s Right Hand’: Policing, Media and Weapons Product Placement

Abstract
An evidence-based assessment of correlations between the presence of firearms in routine policing and measures of safety is only part of the picture. Police capacity and inclination to use force do not operate in isolation. Legislative, organisational, procedural, situational and individual choices all inform collective priorities and on-the-ground officer decisions, but they are also a product of community perception and expectation. This brings to the fore the tropes and constructs of popular culture—and the media, in all its forms. From where is the belief in the beneficial effect of routinely armed policing derived? Why is it that in routinely unarmed jurisdictions, a typical response to issues of mass public disorder, changes in offending behaviours or individual high-profile crimes is “just give the police guns”? Why is their such widespread belief that more ready police access to lethal force leads to better outcomes, for both police and the community? We have established that empirical evidence is minimal, and our study has failed to find any notable positive association between the routine arming of police officers and safety. In this chapter we apply a range of research literature, media examples and case studies to an exploration of fictional media traditions, and the positioning of firearms within dramatic narrative arcs and public sentiment more generally. We reflect on the power of product placement and media priming on perceptions of the use of firearms by police officers in fictional dramas, and the influence this can have on real-world policing. We argue that Weapons Product Placement, the deliberate and extensive inclusion of firearms across screen content, has a subtle and wide-ranging influence on policing styles. We draw these elements together to consider the ways in which the fictional media shape expectations about the need for police to have guns, and influence the belief that having a gun is an essential and positive aspect of policing.
Richard Evans, Clare Farmer

Chapter 8. Do Police Need Guns?

Abstract
In this book we have probed the doctrine of minimum force policing. Is “minimum force” merely an aphorism, a rhetorical position which is vulnerable to challenge? Or can the efficacy of minimum force, for both the community and police themselves, be demonstrated with tested evidence? We have also unpacked the armed tradition of policing, and questioned the frequent, confident assertion that the community will be better protected and that police will be safer if they are routinely armed. Again: is there evidence to support this claim? This chapter draws together our explorations of core theoretical and conceptual elements of police power and use of force, the empirical findings of our comparative study, and the discussion of the subtle influence of media on policing style. Our research findings highlight that the assumptions which support the routine arming of police officers need much more careful consideration and analysis than has previously been applied. There is growing pressure in some currently unarmed jurisdictions to move towards more militarised and routinely armed policing. We implore those advocating for such change, and those tasked with making such a fundamental decision, to think through and test the assumptions made about the need for routinely armed police officers. Put simply, do all police officers actually need guns? We do not claim to provide a comprehensive answer, but we hope to demonstrate that the question is real and important, and that the standard rhetorical justifications for arming police are not supported by clear evidence.
Richard Evans, Clare Farmer
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