As the debate about Bourke Street rages, ex-NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Nick Kaldas has weighed in:
“While no two incidents are the same, and it is an extremely difficult call to make on the spot, the public needs to differentiate between incidents where the police are on the scene and taking action, and incidents where their lives and those of others are in immediate danger and police have not arrived. It is sound advice to step back in the former, and leave it to police, who are trained and equipped.
Members of the public must consider the possible consequences of taking action if it is not absolutely necessary. They may get hurt, somebody else may get hurt, they may incur liability for that injury or they may get in the way of the police and worsen the situation through inadequate knowledge or understanding of these types of incidents and police methodology.
Victorian Police commissioner Graham Ashton acknowledged these dangers yesterday speaking on Melbourne radio when discussing the actions of Michael Rogers, who has become known as “trolley man”. “If a trolley had hit a police member and knocked him over and then this offender got on top of him, we could have had a tragic consequence,” the commissioner said.
Further, and this is an important point now that smart phones are so ubiquitous, remaining close to the incident simply to film it on a phone can be a recipe for disaster, as would have happened had the gas cylinders in Bourke Street blown up.
In the second category, where authorities are not on the scene and danger is imminent, it may be advisable to act if no other option exists. What to do is the question. Many examples have arisen of brave civilians who have saved lives by taking action, most prominently the actions of courageous passengers during September 11 who brought down the fourth plane, apparently intended for either the White House or Congress. The heroic passengers on that plane had no other option. This should be a last resort.
Exhaustive research from numerous governments has led to the advice that members of the public should, if possible, run from the danger,or, if not possible, hide, and inform (raise the alarm) in that order. Trying to tackle a crazed, armed individual with no training and no equipment, if there are other options, is not ideal.”
David Leyonhjelm summed this article up as he so eloquently does:
Now to be fair to Mr Kaldas, he does make some valid points on the intervention side of things. In a situation like Friday’s, it’s a risk you weigh up as to intervene or not. As for Trolleyman’s actions, there are plenty of valid criticisms for and against his involvement and Graham Ashton also does have a point in terms of the danger to Police members.
However, that’s not the main point here. As we pointed out previously, the fact that Trolleyman was forced to do what he did is because the law prevented him and every other member of the public from protecting himself adequately, is what is up for discussion here.
Not even allowed so much as a pepper spray or a baton to protect himself with, he was forced to use what he had – in other words, forced to improvise against an assailant who had come prepared for violence and already at a massive disadvantage. The laws certainly didn’t keep Sisto and the other victims safe, but they can gather solace in the fact that they’re unnecessarily dead and will get a posthumous candlelit vigil until the next incident happens.
There is absolutely no reason that a law-abiding citizen that does not wish to become a Police member, but can meet the same training standards, should not be able to carry a concealed firearm should they wish to. There is plenty of scope in the private sector for the training capacity. Even the Czech Republic has a concealed carry program for its citizens and their view on terrorism is a polar opposite.
Let’s be realistic, Police training standards are woefully inadequate in terms of firearms and they aren’t supported by Commissioners. A couple of weeks at the academy and then one or two requalification shoots a year (depending on jurisdiction) is nowhere near enough, particularly when you are holding Category H licence holders to far higher standards. Sure, more Police training would always be supported by us but the law-abiding public don’t have that option at all.
It’s also the active lobbying from Police Commissioners and Police Unions to keep the public defenceless, while at the same time making constant demands to up their arsenals because of public safety, which also gets our goat up.
For all their criticisms, for the most part Police in the United States will support the public protecting themselves against threats like this. Even the FBI tells citizens to fight back. It appears to be the exact opposite in Australia and this nanny state attitude needs to go. Look at what Queensland Police tells you to do in a self-defence incident.
The simple laws of physics dictate that Police can’t be everywhere and anywhere to stop things like this, it’s time they accepted that reality on the self-defence front. Dean Webber found this out a few weeks ago. We’ve already seen what NSW Police’s attitude is to self-defence with the David Dunstan fiasco last year. And we all remember Steve Fontana’s infamous “just be compliant” advice.
That being said, there are plenty of cops that would like the ability to protect themselves off-duty as well, but aren’t trusted to by the same employers that trust them to while they are being paid.
The message is simple: support the law-abiding public protecting ourselves against these nutjobs practically and we’ll support you. Spare us the authoritarian lectures on self-defence as we’re supposed to be on the same team.
The first responder is always the victim.