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Why It Is Time For Tasers For All Police Officers, By Nick Ferrari
2 September 2019, 09:46 | Updated: 2 September 2019, 09:51
Nick Ferrari is launching his campaign Time For Tasers to get all police the protection of a taser. He explains why this is such an important issue.
It was delivered with precisely the mix of bluntness and directness you'd expect from one of New York's finest, about to go on patrol in one of the most crime-infested parts of the city where shootings, often fatal, used to be an everyday occurrence.
As part of the "Nick Ferrari Time for Tasers" campaign for LBC, I'd gone to New York to work with the NYPD (New York Police Department) and assess how important Taser guns were to their armoury.
This campaign, which starts today on my breakfast show, was inspired by the grim rise of attacks against police officers in the UK. Indeed, official figures show an officer in Britain is under a threat of some form of assault every twenty minutes.
And what do they have to protect themselves? A can of pepper spray, a baton, handcuffs and some cable ties. You'd be excused for thinking they were a bunch of aggressive gardeners, rather than being charged with upholding law and order across the land.
Back to New York and the South Bronx - one of the most challenging parts of the Five Boroughs, as New York is divided, to police. Having worked in the city decades ago for Fox TV, I didn't need telling about how dangerous parts of the South Bronx could be. I truly cannot remember how many times my news crews had been dispatched on shootings, stabbings and murders there.
Getting ready to leave the precinct, I asked one officer how he would feel if he were to be asked to police according to the British model, that is with neither Taser nor sidearm - their gun.
"You might as well ask me to go out there without any shoes," was his immediate response.
And, as the way police are equipped in the UK was explained to him, it was a combination of admiration, shock and downright horror that poured out from this officer and many of his colleagues.
"It's not for us to tell your police how to do their jobs, they're obviously seriously brave individuals. But, if you're possibly going to be up against the worst there is out there, is it so much to ask to have some decent protection?" asked another.
And, of course, he's right. A case is going before the courts at the moment so not a lot can be said, but it has been reported the use of a Taser was crucial to the safety of an officer involved. More and more forces are coming round to offering them to their officers and a key meeting will soon take place where the 43 police forces up and own the land will decide whether or not to mandate all their officers must routinely carry Tasers.
Having been on patrol in New York with officers who have them, having been on a Taser training course and having spoken with "cops" who've used them tells me the time is now. On many occasions, I was told, simply the light from the Taser "gun" and the red (or green) dot on the suspect's chest is more than enough to resolve any situation.
When it comes to protecting our own officers, enough is enough.
It is Time for Tasers.