Gun related crime is thankfully a rare occurrence in Birmingham – firearms are not easy things to get hold of and carrying either a real or imitation gun usually attracts a rather rapid response from one of our specialist Armed Response Units.
How do officers go about joining the firearms unit though? What is the training like and how many succeed in making from the initial selection to graduation?
Last year I’d written a blog about our firearms officers, mainly because I was being asked so frequently by young kids whether I carried a gun or by some of the older kids, where my ‘piece’ was.
This month the good people in our press office have gone one step further and actually produced a series of short films going behind the scenes at the firearms training school to give you an idea of just how demanding the training is.
I watched the videos with as much interest as anyone else because even working for the police, you’d only ever see this side of the training if you were selected to actually go on it. Competition is very tough and vacancies few and far between hence even to get on the first part of the course is a reward in itself.
From watching these videos, you’ll get an idea why firearms officers are generally thought to be amongst the best in the force. This is something us regular officers are a little begrudging to accept although secretly most of us are probably a little jealous that the cops on the firearms units have the skills necessary to fill a very important role, racing around the West Midlands in high powered cars filled with more firepower than the A Team van.
Here are the videos in the order on which they were originally shown over on the West Midlands Police YouTube channel -
And what’s the job like when out on the streets doing it for real? The below video shows one of our Armed Response Vehicles intercepting two miscreants who had been seen sporting a handgun in Birmingham. It turned out to be a fake but look how quickly the officers draw their weapons when it is produced – this lad came within seconds of being shot.