Review needed after Hong Kong police gun incidents
Investigations into alleged weapon grabs by those being arrested should aim to improve safety standards for both officers and the public
Police can never predict with certainty what they will encounter when they answer a call. The intoxicated man at a Sha Tin flat five officers were sent to deal with last week would outwardly have seemed a straightforward enough case, but two ended up in hospital with gunshot wounds.
There was reportedly a scuffle, one officer’s holstered gun was allegedly grabbed by the drunk and the trigger pulled. A review of equipment, training and rules has to be held to ensure that safety standards for the public and force are maintained.
An investigation should determine how the man could have got his hands on the gun and fired it. Police holsters are designed to ensure that a special technique is necessary to remove the weapon.
Every officer undergoes three handgun training sessions each year to perfect the method and be taught how to ward off weapon snatchers.
Whatever went amiss this time has to be assessed so that better protections can be considered and, if feasible, implemented.
The same holsters have been in use for 25 years, but there are incidents of guns being snatched from time to time. Last Thursday’s incident was followed by another on Saturday night at Cheung Sha Wan by officers arresting a 39-year-old construction worker charged with child cruelty who allegedly tried to snatch a revolver.
And in 2014, at the emergency ward of North District Hospital, a mainland man reached for and fired an officer’s gun six times while it was holstered, wounding three policemen and a health worker.
The unusual circumstances led to a detailed examination of what went wrong in an attempt to prevent a repeat and the same is needed with the latest case.
No matter what police learn during training, though, there are countless scenarios encountered while on duty. It is not possible to anticipate in detail every operational circumstance.
Redesigning holsters so that removing guns is more difficult is not necessarily a solution, either, as that could impede an officer’s ability to react decisively in an emergency – although an open mind has to be kept as to making improvements.
The priority has to be keeping our city safe and ensuring officers do not come to harm as they carry out their duties, so a thorough review is necessary.