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第4册 - Unit 6, Section B - The Biggest Threat to the Role of Police Officers

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Every summer about a dozen journalists gather at a former army training camp north of London to spend the day watching the training of London's special armed police unit. These are the people who regularly have to tackle the increasing number of criminals who are prepared to carry guns.

The journalists also get a chance to shoot a gun on the practice range; none of it seems that difficult, and we put most of the bullets somewhere on the target. But then we move on to the next stage of the training, where some of the problems which actually crop up on the street are imitated. The lights on the range are dimmed and we are stood in front of a large screen. We still have guns, but the bullets are fake, and videos are played where actors act out various types of situations.

Does the man holding a woman in front of him really have a gun or not? Is the man apparently preparing to surrender really going to, or is he going to raise the gun in front of him and shoot? We have to decide whether to shoot and when, just like the police officer has to when faced with this situation for real. The journalists' results here were not so impressive. I am afraid we killed many an innocent person carrying nothing more lethal than a stick.

The debate over whether more police in Britain should be armed with guns has been going on for years. The current policy is to have a small number of specialists available in each of the 43 police departments in Britain. They are kept up to scratch with intensive and regular training.

But the wisdom of that policy has been questioned as the amount of violence encountered by the police has grown. It is usually the ordinary street officer who is on the wrong end of this, rather than the armed experts who arrive rather later.

To see the direction in which the British police are heading, consider the experience of the Northumbria police who have responsibility for law and order in 5,000 square kilometers of Northeast England. The population is 1.5 million, living in rural areas and a few urban centers. The 3,600 police officers in the force deal with all the typical problems thrown up by the Britain of the 1990s.

John Stevens, head of the Northumbria Police Department, has just published his review of the past years. During 1994, for example, 61 officers (54 men and seven women) were forced into early retirement after being attacked on duty. Before being allowed to leave the police for medical reasons, they lost between them 12,000 days on sick leave: the equivalent of 50 police officers off the street for a full year.

Stevens makes this observation: 'The personal cost of policing has never been so high. One third of the officers leaving were disabled in the very worst degree and will suffer for the rest of their lives for their efforts in the fight against crime.'

This picture of a policeman's lot could be repeated in many other parts of Britain, yet the police themselves still oppose more widespread arming of their officers. The most recent survey, conducted last year, showed that only 46% were in favor.

The general public, however, likes the idea: 67% favored wider issuing of guns. But they, of course, would not have to carry them and maybe even use them. Recalling my own experience shooting a gun on the practice range, I certainly would not want the responsibility.

It is clear to everyone that the police need more protection against the gun and the knife. They already carry longer clubs to replace the old ones. They have access to knife-resistant coats and gloves.

The likely next step is agreement from the Government to test pepper spray, an organic substance derived from peppers which disables an attacker if sprayed in his face. If used properly, the discomfort, although extreme, is only temporary. Provided the spray is washed away with water, recovery should be complete within a couple of hours. Unpleasant, certainly, but better than being shot.

Many people in Britain would not mind seeing their police with longer clubs or even pepper spray. They would just like to see them at all. I have lost count of the times we have been filming police officers on the street when local residents have come up to us and told us it is the first time in weeks they have seen police in the area.

Actually the biggest threat to the traditional image and role of police officers does not come from guns and armed crime but the increase in the tasks we expect the police to carry out. New laws and police priorities are taking up so much time that many forces simply cannot afford to let their officers walk up and down the streets. Politicians are now asking members of the public to watch the streets. In some prosperous areas, local people pay private security firms.

Many officers believe it is all these extra duties, rather than the fear of being shot, that have really changed their role. In future, if you want to know what time it is there might not be much point asking a policeman. He either will not be there to ask or will not have the time to answer.

每年夏天,总有大约十几名记者聚集在伦敦北部的一个旧军训营,用一整天的时间来观看伦敦特警部队的训练。

特警通常要对付日益增多的携带枪支的犯罪分子。

记者们也有机会在练习场射击。射击似乎并不难,我们的子弹几乎都打到靶上了。

然后我们进入训练的下一步:模拟在街道上实际会出现的一些问题。

场上的灯光暗了下去,我们面对一块大屏幕站着,

手中仍有枪,但子弹是假的。屏幕上演员们在扮演着各种场面。

那个抓着一名妇女挡在身前的人真拿着枪吗?

那个看似要投降的人是否真会投降,还是会举枪射击?

我们必须判断是否该开枪,该何时开枪,就像警察真实地面对此情此景时必须做出判断一样。

记者们在这一阶段的表现不太出色。

恐怕我们打死了不少无辜的人,他们手中最致命的东西只不过是一根棍子而已。

多年来,对于是否该给更多的英国警员配枪,人们一直争论不休。

目前的做法是给英国所有的43个警局都配备少数特警,他们定期接受强化训练来保持达标。

但是随着警察遭遇的暴力事件逐渐增多,人们对这一做法是否明智提出了疑问。

通常,遭殃的是在街上巡逻的普通警察,而不是姗姗来迟的武装特警。

为了了解英国警方面临的局面,可以看一下诺森布里亚郡警局的情况。该局负责英格兰东北部5,000平方公里区域内的治安。

所辖的乡村和几个城区内居住着150万人口。

那里的3,600名警察要应付英国20世纪90年代常见的各类事件。

该警局负责人约翰·史蒂文斯最近发表了他对过去几年工作的述评。

例如,1994年,共有61名警员(男性54人,女性7人)由于履行职责时遭受攻击而不得不提早退休。

在因健康原因获准退休前,他们共请病假12,000天,相当于50名警员休假一年。

史蒂文斯这样评论道:"警务的人力成本从未如此之高,

离职的警员中严重伤残的达三分之一,他们因打击犯罪而将在余生中承受痛苦。"

警察的这种遭遇也发生在英国其他地方。不过警局本身仍反对扩大为警员配备武器的范围。

去年进行的最新调查表明,赞成者只占46%。

但是普通老百姓赞成这一做法,他们中的67%赞成扩大配发枪支的范围。

但他们自己当然不想带枪,更不会想用枪。

回想一下我自己在练习场射击的经历,我肯定也不想负这个责任。

人人都清楚警察需要更多的保护,以防刀枪。

他们现在所携的警棍较以前的要长,

也有了防利器的上衣和手套。

下一步可能的做法是政府同意试验胡椒喷雾剂,一种从胡椒中提取的有机物质。如果喷在脸上,它能使袭击者丧失行动能力。

运用得当的话,所产生的不适就只是暂时的,尽管很强烈。

只要用水冲洗,几个小时内应可彻底恢复。

这当然是难受的,但比挨子弹要好。

很多英国人不反对警察携带加长的警棍或胡椒喷雾剂。

他们只是想见到警察。

不知多少次,当我们在街上拍摄警察镜头时,总有当地居民过来告诉我们,这是几周以来他们在此地第一次看到警察。

实际上,对传统警察形象和职责构成最大威胁的并不是枪支和武装犯罪,而是我们要求警察做的日益增多的工作。

新的法令和重点警务工作占去了大量时间,结果使得很多警队派不出警员上街巡逻。

官员们要求民众留意街区治安。

在一些繁华地区,居民们雇请私人保安公司。

很多警员认为正是这些额外工作改变了他们的职责,而非担心被枪击。

今后,如果你想知道时间,去问警察恐怕会没有用。

要么你连见都见不到他,要么他没有时间回答。

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