There’s no time for feelings to enter the picture when you’re in professional mode. I have to get as much info as possible from the control room, concentrate on driving to the scene safely, thinking about the tactic we’ve been given, and where the rest of the team will be coming from.
I’ve been in the police for 15 years, and spent 12 of those years working for firearms.
It was a huge decision to join, knowing that one day I might ultimately have to shoot someone.
But if the chips were down and I had to act to save the life of a member of the public, a colleague or myself, then I have the confidence that I would do the right thing.
This confidence comes from the incredibly thorough training I’ve had.
While I was still a probationary constable, a firearms instructor told me that the initial firearms course was one of the hardest to pass.
During my time on local policing I’d attended several firearms incidents, and was impressed by the professionalism and teamwork shown by the armed officers. I wanted to challenge myself, so I applied to join the armed policing unit.
Starting from a skill level of zero, I had to pass qualification shoots for three different weapons.
On the course we spent a whole day learning to handle, load and unload guns with inert drill rounds, and I can honestly say my hands have never been sweatier.
The first time I fired a gun I was concentrating so much on what I had been taught that there was no room for thought!
Those successful in the weapons phase went on to complete four weeks tactics training. The course was extremely challenging as I was not ex-military, but I managed to pass first time.
After that, I attended an armed response vehicle (ARV) course which taught me the range of tactics for dealing with potentially armed subjects in vehicles, and also covered how to escort prisoners in an armed convoy.
Because of the skills and pressure that comes with being a firearms officer, training is really important. We do 30 hours of refresher training every 10 weeks.
One of my first deployments as an ARV officer involved another officer who had been injured. When I got the call to say that a colleague had been attacked, I naturally experienced a lot of negative emotions. I had to put those feelings to one side and react as per my training in a professional matter, in order to do my best to capture the suspects.
There can be an adrenaline hangover once the work has been done but there’s always a lot to do following any incident – making our weapons safe, debriefing, and completing statements.
I love the variety that comes with working as a firearms officer. One day I can be crewing a car in a town centre attending incidents, the next I’m driving a royal family member.
The Olympics was a massive privilege to be a part of – the biggest close protection operation this country has ever mounted. One of my roles was to be part of the protection team for the President of Fiji which was pretty awesome.
It can be tricky to remain positive about the difficult and dangerous job that I do when I see negative media coverage on policing, but I love what I do and know that I can make a difference by helping to protect people.
It’s a huge responsibility to hold a loaded gun. Having handled them for over 10 years now, they are as much a part of my kit as my pocket notebook or pen. But I constantly remind myself of the incredible duty and privilege that comes with such a role.
N.B The officer has been kept anonymous to protect his identity due to the sensitive operations he sometimes has to go on.