Safety Fears Surround China’s Newly Armed Police
At least four fatal shootings have followed the arming of some Chinese police as part of the country’s ongoing anti-terror campaign. In one case, witnesses challenged the need for lethal violence against a Yunnan protester. In another, a villager was killed by an officer who was allegedly drunk. An investigation found that he had been sober, but that the gun had gone off accidentally. Other, non-fatal incidents include the injury of four parents and a child when a policeman accidentally fired into the floor during a safety demonstration at a Henan kindergarten.
The authorities seem aware of the potential for a public backlash. A directive issued this month instructed websites, “do not hype, do not comment, do not modify headlines, do not distribute bloody photographs, do not link to old stories, do not publish commentary, and use only official wire copy on news related to […] police opening fire.” AP’s Didi Tang reports on the police rearmament and the safety concerns surrounding it:
“Broadening the right (to carry guns) to more police officers could bring more harm than good if they do not follow the laws,” said Liu Zhirong, an independent scholar who was once a researcher at an elite Chinese military police academy. “Police must learn to minimize use of force.”
[…] Experts worry, however, that the training will focus too much on technical aspects such as firing accuracy and not enough on psychological and legal aspects such as when to draw the gun and how to quickly size up chaotic situations.
“I even wonder if some police officers have ever seen a gun,” said Hong Daode, a professor of criminal law at China University of Political Science and Law. “We are basically starting from zero.”
[…] At a recent gun training session for 70 Beijing officers, the Beijing Youth newspaper said the primary goal was rapid firing. Officers were required to fire off six bullets within three seconds. [Source]
Meanwhile, Beijing police chief Fu Zhenghua has been prominently leading armed patrols around the city and encouraging close front-line supervision by senior officers. From Chris Luo at South China Morning Post:
Fu, who is also a deputy chief of China’s Public Security Ministry, has gone on several armed patrols with senior special police officers around Beijing’s railway stations in the past few days, the Beijing Youth Daily said. More than 2,700 senior police officials have been ordered to follow in Fu’s footsteps and serve on the frontline to help “combat terrorism and maintain stability”.
The armed patrols Fu has headed has mainly been in locations deemed critical to public security, like the city’s four railway stations, the report said. In recent months railway stations in several cities across the nation have been targeted in violent attacks .
The 58-year-old Beijing police tsar, who is perhaps the most high-profile police officer in the nation, has previously participated in similar patrols. Last month he was photographed sporting the uniform of a special police officer, wearing a tactical police vest and armed with a handgun while he marched on the streets and directed frontline officers “to ensure they take down the enemy with one shot”. [Source]