To Counter Terror, Europe’s Police Reconsider Their Arms

PARIS (AP) -
French police officers pay their respects during a ceremony to pay tribute to the three police officers killed in the attacks, in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, pool)
French police officers pay their respects during a ceremony to pay tribute to the three police officers killed in the attacks, in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, pool)

One was a young policewoman, unarmed on the outskirts of Paris and felled by an assault rifle. Her partner, also without weapons, could do nothing to stop the gunman. Another was a first responder with a side arm, rushing to the Charlie Hebdo offices where a pair of masked men with high-powered weapons had opened fire on an editorial meeting. Among their primary targets: the armed police bodyguard inside the room.

With the deaths of the three French officers during three days of terror in the Paris region and the suggestion of a plot in Belgium to kill police, European law enforcement agencies are rethinking how — and how many — police should be armed.

Scotland Yard said Sunday it was increasing the deployment of officers allowed to carry firearms in Britain. In Belgium, where officials say a terror network was plotting to attack police, officers are again permitted to take their service weapons home.

On Monday, French law enforcement officials demanding heavier weapons, protective gear and a bolstered intelligence apparatus met with top officials from the Interior Ministry. An official with the ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing talks, said automatic weapons and heavier bulletproof vests were on the table.

“We don’t want necessarily the arms that American police have. We need weapons that can respond,” said Philippe Capon of French police union UNSA.