Post Shooting Procedures
Police involved shooting
When a Police Firearms Officer is involved in a shooting there are strict guidelines and procedures in place to ensure that what has happened is thoroughly investigated. All investigations following the death of a subject must also comply with Article 2 ECHR.
At the scene:
Officers would give immediate first aid to the person who has been shot.
The scene will be cordoned off.
Officers involved in the shooting will be removed from the scene as soon as possible.
An initial account would be given by a Police Officer who witnessed events to an investigator or supervisor (Inspector/Sergeant).
Officers will return to a designated suite where the Post Incident Procedures will take place.
A Post Incident Manager (PIM) usually an Inspector or above will be called out. Click HERE for role.
A Police Federation Representative will be called to support the officer(s) Click HERE Fed Rep role.
The host Force Professional Standards Department will be called.
The IPCC will be informed.
A solicitor will be called to represent officers that have discharged their firearms, and others who request advice given their role in the incident (Tactical or Strategic Commanders)
Officers involved in the shooting would have a private consultation with their lawyer.
All officers involved would see a doctor. This is to ascertain if they have any injuries.
Officers would make a phone call home to their families to let them know they are ok. These types of events make the news within minutes. Families of officers will know they are on duty and naturally worry about them.
The Senior Investigating Officer would introduce him/herself to the officers and explain their role.
The subject of evidential notes will be discussed. This varies depending on what information is known at the time about what has happened. In any case those officers that have witnessed events but not discharged their firearms would normally make some kind of written statement about the incident.
Officers who are legally represented will write notes subject to any legal or medical advice to the contrary. In any case only initial notes will be made immediately, but would be followed by lengthy formal statements 48 hours later.
To maintain public confidence and integrity it is important that enough detail is known as soon as possible for the investigation to progress. It is also equally important that the families of the subjects that have been shot by Police are informed at the earliest opportunity as to how this came about.
Those Officers that have discharged their firearms will have their weapons forensically examined.
They will hand the weapons to an exhibits officer in a controlled forensic environment.
The investigators may also take clothing. This is decided based upon any forensic needs. There may be potential evidence on the clothing that would assist all those affected by the incident, and therefore help maintain the integrity of the investigation.
Police Officers involved in a shooting incident are not required in law to provide blood samples.
This Post Incident Procedure can take many hours. Often Police Officers have already been on duty for some time before the incident. Their welfare is taken very seriously. No Firearms Officers want to shoot anybody, and this rare event can cause severe trauma to the officer and their family.
When the investigators are happy with the information and evidence they have officers will go home.
The following few days
The officers will meet up again about 48 Hours later. They have to undertake a hearing test if they have been exposed to gunshots without hearing protection.
Officers that are legally represented will meet up with their lawyer and prepare detailed statements for the investigators.
All other officers will write statements and hand direct to the investigators.
When the officers write their notes they are allowed to confer. This conferring consists of times, locations, routes etc. The officers do not confer about their honest held belief at the time they fired their weapons. This is strictly adhered too, and helps to maintain public confidence.
Officers are then afforded the opportunity to speak to a welfare counsellor. They may have a number of meetings depending on their needs. There will NOT be a de-brief of the incident at this stage. All evidential notes must be made, and if any debrief were to take place the Senior Investigating Officer would be present, and the de-brief recorded.
Officers involved in a shooting are then removed from operational duty until such time as the investigators along with the officers’ senior commanders make a decision for them to return to duty.
There will be an Inquest if the shooting has resulted in a fatality. Officers are under immense pressure during this process, and will be questioned sometimes for days about their actions.
Police shootings are very rare. When they do occur they change many peoples lives forever. The family of the person shot will often feel angry with the Police. They will ask why the incident could have not been resolved peacefully or why the officers could not have used a Taser or shot the person in the arm or leg. This is a natural reaction and is something we would all ask if we were in their position. The fact however remains that when someone posses a threat to officers and the public, and that threat cannot be dealt with using conventional means, i.e. negotiation or CS Spray, Baton etc then firearms will be used as a last resort. Taser and baton rounds have been a welcome addition to firearms officers, but when faced by someone who is armed, or otherwise so dangerous that there is an imminent threat to life then firearms can and will be used.
Because we live in a society where our police are unarmed (New Zealand being the only other country!) when officers do discharge their firearms and people subsequently die there is enormous public and media interest. What must never be forgotten is the person behind the police firearm is an ordinary person going about an extraordinary job. They too have emotions and feelings, they too have families and friends, and they too want to return home to their loved ones every day. We are very fortunate we have these officers who are volunteers to look after us all.