London police defend using force against suspected suicide bombers |

London police defend using force against suspected suicide bombers

LONDON – London police on Thursday defended its strategy of using force to stop suspected suicide bombers, and one top official insisted the department did not have a shoot-to-kill policy.Many Britons criticized the Metropolitan Police after undercover officers fatally shot an innocent man in the head aboard a subway train on July 22, a day after four failed attempts to bomb the city’s transport system. Two weeks earlier, four bombers had killed 52 commuters and themselves aboard three subways and a bus.Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair has apologized for the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, a Brazilian electrician, but insists police must be able to shoot someone they believe is about to detonate a bomb.The killing is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.Blair, being questioned by the Metropolitan Police Authority, a watchdog agency, said that had officers discovered the bomber who blew himself up on a red double-decker bus on July 7, they would have killed him to protect the public.”We know now that the fourth bomber on July 7 was walking around London for an hour with a rucksack full of explosives,” he said. “If we had found him, we would have shot him dead.”The commissioner said that in the “new normality” after the summertime bombings, shooting suspects in the head was sometimes necessary.”We do not have another option,” he said. “We are in the ‘least worst’ option scenario.”Assistant Commissioner Steve House, who is reviewing the police strategy for combating suicide bombers, said the department’s policy was “shoot to incapacitate,” not “shoot to kill.””We will not accept ‘shoot to kill’ as a characterization of what we do,” he said. “It may seem like semantics, but it is not.””In a terrorist scenario the action must be decisive and end any threat to the public. If there was a way we could incapacitate that person without the use of lethal force we would use it,” House said.Blair said that in the nine years sine the police’s special firearms unit was established, it had responded to 109,000 calls. Officers fired shots 58 times, wounding 18 people and killing eight, he said.”This commentary that the Met is somehow ‘trigger happy’ is not borne out by this,” he said.Most British police officers do not carry guns.Vail, Colorado

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