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Question Of The Day

Do You Feel Safe Around the Police?

"No. They're the police."

(Photo by Henry Langston)

Some people like the police. They're handy when you've had a break-in, they do their best to stop the bad guys and a lot of them seem to have that complete lack of self-awareness that can sometimes be kind of endearing. But some people despise the police, their heavy-handed tactics, their complete lack of accountability and the fact that they're still pretty racist.

Other people don't like the police because they have a knack for killing people and getting away with it. Much like the case of Ian Tomlinson, the police officer responsible for the death of a man in Manchester last week – who perished from complications after being shot with a police taser  – will inevitably get off scot-free.


With that in mind, I thought I'd ask some people I bumped into in the street whether they feel safe around police and their apparent exemption from the law.

Jonathan: No.

Why's that?
Because they're the police.

Do you feel safe when they're carrying tasers?
Definitely not. I heard about the taser death and I don't think they should ever be fired if the person can be physically restrained. They should only use tasers if they have a gun pointed at them.

If you could, would you change anything within the law?
Legalise all drugs.

All of them? 
Well, it would make them cleaner, remove all the health risks. It would take out all kinds of revenue for drug dealers. It would need to be highly regulated – similar to Amsterdam, like weed, shrooms, pills all behind the counter at coffee shops. You'd need to pass a test for the other stuff, like a driver's licence.

That's an interesting idea.

G: It depends in what environment.

VICE: Last week a man died after police shot him with a taser. Do you think police should carry tasers?
Absolutely, I think the police should be armed.

Yeah, absolutely. I think arms should be used whenever the police feel the public are at risk.

What if it was somebody stealing?
The police should be trained to assess the risk and know when to take the appropriate action.

Is there any law that you'd change?
Erm, not necessarily. I don't think it's about laws and legislation. I think that the criminals are adequately armed these days and becoming increasingly violent, so we need a system that allows the police to police. If that involves some kind of weaponry then I think that's the best solution.


Shaista: Yeah, I feel safe.

What about when they're carrying tasers?
Yeah. Like, if a situation goes out of control then I know they're there – I know they can control the situation.

When do you think a Taser should be fired?
When there's someone who is extremely dangerous and he is about to cause harm to someone and they have no other option but to taser him. That's when I'd say it could be used.

Have you ever seen a police officer apprehend a suspected criminal?
I've seen officers get involved in arguments and fights and they've taken control of the situation without using tasers. Like I say, tasers should only be used in serious situations where people are carrying knives and police can see that.

Kai (on the right): Yeah, sometimes – not all the time.

Do you feel safe when they're carrying tasers?

Alright. So you don't think police should carry tasers, then?
Only if it's necessary, really. They shouldn't really carry them. You know, they have an advantage.

If you could, would you change anything within the law?
Yeah, I'd legalise weed.

Frances: Yeah, I do. But I think they can – like, among themselves – give each other looks, and they know what way they're gonna treat you. Like whether they'll go deep into it or just trust you and believe you. They'll do it in front of you but you won't know what they're saying.

Do you feel safe when they're carrying tasers?
No. I heard something about that death. I think tasers can be used in the wrong situations – they should be used in hostage situations and things like that.

Have you ever seen a police officer apprehend a suspected criminal?
Yeah, yeah, they're really rough.

Do you think the police abuse their power?
Yeah, when they're chasing after someone, they just jump on them. They don't just push them, their whole body goes on them.

What would you do if you had the power to change the law?
For me, because of my situation, it would be begging. Because they don't let us sit down and beg. We're not committing crimes, going robbing shops or anything. We're giving people a choice: if they wanna give us money, then they can. I'm not aggressive. If they say no to me, fair enough – I say thank you very much.

Previously - What Would Someone Have to Do to Stop You Being Friends with Them?