Scots Police Teach US Cops How To Avoid Gun Use


**Scots Police Teach US Cops How To Avoid Gun Use

American police chiefs have been to Scotland to learn new techniques in how to avoid shooting violent suspects.

As numerous fatal police confrontations cause public anger across the US, officers are rethinking when, and how, they use force.**

The results are part of a hard-htting documentary to be shown on Sky Atlantic and Sky News.

Last year, police in the US shot and killed around 1,000 civilians, many of them unarmed.

**Former hostage negotiator with the Boston police department, Chuck Wexler, brought the team across the Atlantic in an attempt to cut the use of fatal force. **

As the two sets of police officers met, Mr Wexler described how if confronted by a suspect holding a rock an American officer would pull out his gun.

“You’re going to kill someone for throwing a rock. That’s what you’re gonna do,” said Mr Wexler.

“How would society over here think about you shooting someone with a rock? They would not accept it.”

**The senior American officers, from forces such as the NYPD and LAPD, watched demonstrations at Police Scotland training centres.

**Sky News cameras joined them as they went out on patrol in Glasgow, and watched as unarmed police dealt with a variety of potentially violent situations.

The four-day visit showed how Scottish police step back from confrontation, using shields and vehicles for protection.****

They also saw examples of how in Scotland officers use language and negotiation in a different way to their American colleagues.

Sergeant Jim Young trains hundreds of Scottish police recruits every year.

“The American style of policing, it’s very authoritative,” he said.

"There’s a difference of going in, straight up at this level, whereby you’re ordering people, you’re shouting at them. You can’t go anywhere after that.

“But if you start down low you can adjust your communications to suit.”

In the US there are an estimated 300 million firearms in circulation.

The documentary shows the American police officers, while accepting both countries are very different, learning lessons in how to approach volatile situations.

Many American forces adopt what is informally known as the “21-foot rule”.
Police officers keep that distance from someone with a sharp weapon, but will shoot if the suspect closes that gap.

Some see the controversial tactic as a ‘licence to kill’.

**Scots firearms officers have shot civilians only twice in the last decade.

The last officer to be killed on duty through criminal violence in Scotland was in a stabbing in 1994.

“It’s about time that we step up and this is our chance,” said Mr Wexler.

“It’s a crisis but it’s also our chance to do the right thing.”**

:: Hard-Wire: Law Of The Gun is on Sky Atlantic on Monday at 9pm and on Sky News on Tuesday at 9pm.


How ironic that of all the places in the world these US cops have come to Scotland, my country, to learn how to deal-escalate or control violent incidents without resorting to firearm use. :rolleyes:


Good. If only every American cop could go on a course like this, many lives would be saved.




Scotland is a small country that is 96% white. Their largest city, Glasgow, has a population of around 500k, that is 90% white. I struggle to see what they could possibly know about policing cities with huge, multi-ethnic populations, like Chicago, with it’s population of 2.6M that is roughly 1/3 white, 1/3 black, and 1/3 Hispanic.


What are you implying about those 2/3 of the population that are minorities?


From the first post:

“Many American forces adopt what is informally known as the “21-foot rule”.
Police officers keep that distance from someone with a sharp weapon, but will shoot if the suspect closes that gap.

The last officer to be killed on duty through criminal violence in Scotland was in a stabbing in 1994.”

Obviously, the 1994 killer violated the 21 foot rule.

Seems to me it’s hard to say law enforcement techniques that work in one place will necessarily work in another, even within one country. I’m sure techniques are very different in, say, small towns in Vermont as compared to those in south Chicago. And I’m sure they need to be.


What irony? Sadly, killing with firearms has become the old-normal in America, but it has not been for many years in Scotland.


I don’t know what he intended, but I imagine he was thinking crime rates are higher among black and hispanic populations than they are in white populations in the U.S. Apparently, it’s true.

But location and age would also have an influence. There are places in the U.S. where the violent crime rates compare favorably with those of the UK. There are places in the U.S. where crime rates are much higher than in the UK generally.

Also, the Hispanic population is younger than the white population. Possibly the black population is as well, but I don’t know that. Most violent crime is committed by men between the ages of 17 and 25.


It’s neither “old normal” nor “new normal”. I varies hugely from place to place. The homicide by gun rate in DC is about 20 times what it is in Iowa, for example.


That there are significant cultural differences between the 3 groups such that someone who only has experience dealing with one of the groups is not going to be able to provide meaningful advice on how to deal with the other two.


I meant ironic since I’m a Scot on this forum continually berating some of the American posters on this issue. Ironic that its my country :slight_smile:


Well, keep in mind that some of our states are populated very heavily with Scots-Irish, and the violence rates in some of them are quite high. Maybe it’s just lurking below the surface. :wink:

Some of the places with very low rates of violent crime are those that are heavily populated by people of German, Scandinavian and Polish descent. Minnesota is an example of that.

Hard to know why that is. Might be a cultural aspect to it. Might not.




It’s interesting because I was watching this episode of Railway ( around 10 minute mark) and there is an American revenue checker watching the British police gets rudely treated by passengers and she remarks that they would get thrown to the ground if they did that in the US. I thought the same thing.

Someone commented that it’s because the Brits are more civilized. Maybe they are. They seem to be getting the desired results.


It’s worth a shot (no pun intended, initially).


this only applies if the criminal suspect is UNARMED right? Otherwise we’ll have more cops dying! I do not want that.


Would they?

Perhaps the situation is not so simple…


Okay…just don’t use that line on the next date. :wink: :stuck_out_tongue:

But yes, it’s good to know those kinds of moves. I’m just not sure if it will make a difference and thinking it’s maybe more of a PR thing, which I would be fine with.


London has a population that is a hodgepodge of various nationalities and ethnic groups. I suspect the police there might have plenty of insight into policing cities with multi-ethnic populaces. Also, I wouldn’t be so quick to assume white means everyone shares the same background. Parts of Glascow have suffered in the past from years of on and off rioting and tension between native Scots, Irish immigrants and Scots who are descendants of those Irish.

Glascow is also historically where some of the largest riots ever in British history took place and is considered a city of ‘hard men’ here in the UK. It’s not chance that a headbutt is referenced in slang here as a a Glascow kiss.

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