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Someone to watch over us

Once again, the British police risk life and limb to protect us from those who would do us harm:

A father and his son were confronted by armed police after a young boy was seen playing with a toy gun in a car.

Kevin and Jason Price were ordered out of the car and onto their knees after police were told a weapon was seen pointing from the window.

But in fact it was a £15 plastic ball bearing rifle bought for Mr Price’s seven-year-old son Connor, who was sitting in the back.

Police have defended their actions, and say they have to treat reports of firearms seriously.

No, more likely it was another opportunity to put on a public display of virility against a soft, safe and easy target.

Is there no end to this absurd hysteria? Are there no depths to which this official paranoia cannot sink?

24 comments to Someone to watch over us

  • Chris

    Perfectly Acceptible… they didn’t at all overreact!

  • Is there no end to this absurd hysteria? Are there no depths to which this official paranoia cannot sink?

    No, and no.

  • Dishman

    I believe they’ve reduced themselves to “searching under the streetlight.”

  • veryretired

    In police business, as in military matters, it is those who know absolutely nothing about how things actually work in those areas who make the most noise about what is wrong.

  • Andy

    Anyone have a picture of the “gun” in question? “plastic-ball” guns AKA air-soft guns can look quite realistic and are popular in Japan. If the “gun” in question had nothing that would distinguish it from a real firearm (bright orange color, etc), then the cops did the right thing. And, from a distance, or seeing an object in a moving car, it would be easy to mistake a “plastic ball” gun from a real gun.

    Idiots in the US get zapped all the time for waving toy guns at the cops. And they deserve what they get.

    Sympathy factor for the family (depending on how the gun looks): Zero.

  • Charles Copeland

    It’s impossible to judge events like this from the blogger’s armchair. It all depends.

    Say some crazy kid HAD in fact blown away a few other road users after first brandishing a gun for half an hour. Say several road users had phoned the police on a number of occasions and the police had failed to react.

    Can you imagine the headlines of ‘The Daily Mail’ the day after?

    Especially if the kid was a ‘person of color’.

  • JohnJo

    …and say they have to treat reports of firearms seriously.

    ..becase it’s a lot of fun, you know, we get to use our ‘copters and cars and get our guns out. Those house alarms going off all the time are just sooooo boring, and fingerprinting recovered stolen cars is just a total waste of fun time. You know.

  • Andy

    I think I need to add something to my previous post. Guns are basically verboten in the UK. Someone waves a gun around, they must be doing something bad. If this was to happen, in..say..rural Texas, they police response would be “Yeah, so? He ain’t shootin anyone, is he?”

    Not to say that the UK approach is correct (it isn’t), but when someone is obviously (apparently) breaking the law, ya gotta call The Man.

  • Guy Herbert

    OK. How’s this for crazy over-reaction. It seems they found some real guns, but apparently they weren’t loaded or in anyone’s hand. Presumably all Kent would have been shut down for that.

    (I know closing Kent seems like a good in itself, but that’s not the point.)

    Meanwhile the armed police (including this afternoon a rather fetching WPC) are still keeping under observation the silent, motionless Falun Gong protestors across the road from the Chinese embassy. No photography wagon today–but maybe there are permanent cameras trained on the obligingly unmoving demo-site by now.

  • Cydonia

    veryretired:

    “In police business, as in military matters, it is those who know absolutely nothing about how things actually work in those areas who make the most noise about what is wrong.”

    What?

    Presumably you intend to imply that those who are not police or soliders should refrain from critisising because we don’t know what we are talking about?

    Well I’m sorry, but perhaps you might explain how the conduct of the police in

    (1) deploying a helicopter, armed police and numerous pursuit cars (2) temporarily closing a motorway (3) threatening a family and children at gunpoint

    can be regarded as anything other than either a grotesque and incompetent over-reaction or a nasty cynical attempt at public muscle flexing?

    p.s.

    I suppose you think this
    story
    is exagerated too?

    p.p.s. I don’t mean to be rude, but the tone of your comment really is very condescending both to other commentators and to David Carr (who is no fool)

  • Cydonia

    Sorry, the link to the story is here

  • veryretired

    It is not condescending, dear outraged Cydonia. It is disdain at those who are perpetually outraged anytime something they obviously do not understand happens, and it becomes another story for the tabloid news.

    If you wish to criticize anything, it is best to have some working knowledge about how the topic in question actually operates in the real world.

    In the real world of police work in this day, a report of someone with a gun in a car is taken seriously. It is only in the mind of the utterly uninformed that the idea of a PC walking up to the car and asking “What’s all this then?”, and then everybody has a good laugh, is considered an appropriate response.

    You, and anyone else regardless of their level of expertise, can criticize anything and everything you want. What you cannot demand is that you be taken seriously. This entire matter is a tempest in a very naive teapot.

  • Adam

    I would like to see a picture of the “plastic ball bearing rifle.” This might have been a reasonable reaction on the police’s part.

  • Cody

    http://www.airsoftextreme.com/store.html

    The above site sells Airsoft guns and has several examples of the toy weapons in question.

  • R C Dean

    Cody – those exact replicas look like a lot of fun, but they sell for hundreds of dollars.

    If the kid had one of those, he got a hell of a bargain and the police reaction was pretty reasonable.

  • Tony H

    It might have been a reasonable police reaction – we don’t know enough about the incident – but it most likely was very unreasonable, if the history of this sort of incident in the UK is looked at. The particular sub-section of grotesque police over-reaction that interests me is where they descend mob-handed on hunters, solo or in small groups, out in the field, shooting rabbits or whatever. A “member of the public” calls in (or the police claim this has happened) to report a man with a gun in a nearby field (we’re talking about rural England here, not the big city) and despite this being pretty unremarkable out here in the sticks, helicopters are sent out, people get ordered to put their hands up, lie down, whatever… It’s happened an awful lot.
    JohnJo’s post above might be dismissed by many as flippant or cynical, but he’s dead right: anecdotal evidence, reports from police locker rooms, as well as reasonable inferences being drawn about the evident stupidity of this sort of thing, point to the real possibility that certain police authorities and/or officers look upon this kind of thing as good exercise, PR, justification for expensive toys like choppers, and a bit of fun. And yes, it’s happened to a friend: he evaded the helicopter, but bumped into a cop with a clipboard back at his car, and was sternly advised to “tell the police” next time he went out shooting. Gross presumption! Christ!
    “veryretired” clearly writes from a US perspective, and a personal position of instinctive support for the police & the military. I do not trust either of these bodies. I do not think VR is qualified to assess the incident reported by David Carr, let alone to patronise Cydonia.
    If idiots actually point toy guns at the cops they deserve everything they get. But the cops have a duty to assess intelligently the reports they receive, and frankly all too often they do not seem very intelligent. They manage to catch very few criminals, do not keep our streets safe, and play around at bullying & intimidating the public that pays their wages. Fuck ‘em.

  • Sorry Tony, but “veryretired” doesn’t speak from a US perspective at all. In the US, a report of a gun in a car is a “Is he shooting? No? Then no problem” in at least 25 states, and a two to three car response at the most in the most restrictive states. We don’t call out a helicoptor for what MIGHT be a gun in a car that somebody thought they saw. We don’t shut down a motorway.

  • Harvey

    I can’t actually fault the police here, for once! Assuming the initial report was ‘men in a car, gun spotted’ then they’d only be sensible to make a worst-case assumption of ‘multiple hardcore terrorists, multiple guns, possibly multiple vehicles’ and proceed from there.

    My real concern is the increasing likelihood of people to call the police at the drop of a hat and make damning reports – a gestapo is nothing without informers, after all.

    Vigorous sex with your mistress in the middle of the day? Police turn up, ‘someone reported screaming,’ then they search your house…

    Spanking your child and they yell? Police + social workers turn up…

    Carrying a large wrapped object into your house? Police turn up…

    It’s an attitude problem brought on by crimestoppers/crimewatch ‘have you seen this man’ TV shows, and it’s something that really needs to be stopped. If you’ve never seen those programmes, they’re also spin-city with their ‘if you have seen this man… police are looking for him to help with their enquiries’ or ‘we just want to ask him a few questions’ phrasing.

    That, to me, is much more of a problem than the police actually doing their job and trying to prevent what could well have been a serious crime.

  • Jonathan L

    So if my house gets broken into, I will phone the police and tell them that a family car is outside with a kid pointing a gun in a threatening manner. Rather than being ignored they would at least drive into the neighbourhood.

  • Alan

    The interesting thing about this is that if a criminal breaks into my house, I’m not allowed to use indiscriminate force or react in a disproportionate manner. It may be the middle of the night, I may be shit scared, pumped full of andrenalin and I may not be able to see very well in the dark. Nonetheless, I am supposed to carefully evaluate the situation and use the minimum force necessary to repel or overcome the intruder. Better still, call the police.

    However, there is nothing to suggest in this news report that the police evaluated the situation or acted in the dispassionate way they expect of me when faced by a burglar.

    Still, what do I know? I’m just a dumb bastard commenting from the depths of my armchair.

  • john

    Check out this, “your friendly neighborhood toy arms dealer” in, where else, Texas!! For all your toy weaponery needs! Gonna get some of this stuff for my nephews when they are old enough to appreciate them. http://www.realistictoyguns.com

  • Cydonia

    Harvey:

    “assuming the initial report was ‘men in a car, gun spotted’ then they’d only be sensible to make a worst-case assumption of ‘multiple hardcore terrorists, multiple guns, possibly multiple vehicles’ and proceed from there.”

    Why? As you rightly say, in all other contexts this would show a serious attitude problem! So why is a report of a gun any different?

  • Karl Rand

    The choices are relatively simple.

    1. Assume it’s a gun until you’ve proven it’s a fake

    2. Assume it’s a fake until you’ve proven it’s a gun.

    Currently, 1 is standard operating procedure. Those who want to flip over to 2 should at least consider which approach will get more people killed.

  • Bill Shaw

    The Police were correct. In this day and age, toy guns look very much like real guns and should be investigated by the police. Judgement by the police should always be cautious and with a great deal of discernment. Other wise, we might have a real problem on our hands. Good job.