'Stop or I'll shoot... maybe'
THE POLICE leadership has issued new guidelines on when police can use their guns after a series of incidents put the lives of force members in danger.
Police spokesman Andreas Angelides yesterday confirmed that police chief Michalis Papageorgiou issued a circular with new guidelines on when a police officer can pull out their service revolver and fire a shot.
According to Angelides, under the new guidelines, police can fire warning shots if a suspect is believed to either have committed a criminal act or is in the process of doing so, or tries to escape arrest. They can also shoot the tyres of the car to immobilise it but only if the shooter is at a logical distance from the car giving them a strong chance of actually hitting the target.
If an officer is to fire a warning shot, it has to be in an open space and aimed upwards to the sky. A warning shot or shooting car tyres should be avoided when dealing with minor offences.
The police spokesman clarified the guidelines were general in nature and that each situation would be judged on the specific context of the incident. However, there are some rules that apply in all scenarios like the one saying a police officer should only draw their weapon and fire a shot as a last resort, and only if the officer is convinced that doing so will not cause damage to any other person or property.
Angelides noted that the latest guidelines provide greater clarity for police in these circumstances, adding that they come after numerous incidents where police tried to stop suspected criminals who got away in their cars. In some cases, police were even put in danger by the escaping suspects driving the getaway vehicles.
Meanwhile, previous guidelines on using a weapon against a member of the public remain unchanged. A police officer can only shoot at someone if their life or the life of another is deemed to be in immediate danger, under the assumption that using a weapon would be considered a proportionate response in that context.
For example, if a bank thief is running away from police and is not armed, shooting him would be considered a disproportionate act, said Angelides.
(Source: Cyprus Mail)
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