Most police officers in Norway have traditionally been unarmed. And the Anders Brevik massacre doesn’t seem to have changed that, at least for a majority of officers responding in a recent survey of the snappily-dressed patrolmen by their union. As union president Arne Johannessen puts it, most of Norway’s cops “want to retain what he called ‘a civil image’ and the ability to work closely with the public.”
As reported at newsinenglish.no,
“We want to have a police force that can handle the most demanding assignments with the least amount of force,” Arne Johannessen, head of the police officers’ union Politiets Fellesforbund, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) this week.
A survey of the union’s own members showed that fully 60 percent of the police officers questioned said they do not want to be armed at all times. At present, they only arm themselves after receiving authorization in dangerous situations.
The trick, though, is knowing when you’re going to need that carry piece. Short of a fairly reliable crystal ball, that can be hard to anticipate. It’s difficult to imagine a beat cop in Oslo having the time during a terrorist attack to run back to the precinct house, ask for the keys to the gun cabinet and then getting back to the scene of the mayhem in time to be terribly effective.
[Johannessen] noted that even though the majority opposed standard arming, their opposition is based on a few conditions including better staffing so that police can more quickly receive back-up as needed.
“And we must have easier access to weapons when we’re in a dangerous situation,” Johannessen told NRK. “That means having weapons storage in all police districts, both one- and two-handed weapons, and revision of weapon instruction in Norway.”
Isn’t the easiest “easier access” having it right there on your hip? Does a cop’s gun really tarnish the Norwegian police’s “civil image?” Kinda gives a whole new meaning to “when seconds count, the cops are only minutes away,” doesn’t it?