6th March 2016
HUNDREDS more cops should be armed with semi-automatic rifles to stop “active shooter” attacks in Perth, the WA Police Union has told Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan.
So-called “active shooter” situations are mass shootings involving one or more gunmen, such as the Paris terror attacks in November, which killed 130 people.
In WA, only police officers in the country and the Tactical Response Group are equipped with long-arm rifles, such as AR-15s.
WA Police Union president George Tilbury said many members were concerned the semi-automatic Glock pistol — the standard firearm used by cops in WA — was inadequate for active shooter attacks.
Mr Tilbury said it took “significant time” to deploy the TRG, and active shooter situations required “immediate action” by first responders.
“As a starting point, we would like to see two rifles per response vehicle,” Mr Tilbury said.
“WAPU appreciates that training, rifle security within vehicles and projectile penetration concerns would need to be researched and considered, but we need to strongly consider providing this use-of-force option to police officers in the metropolitan area.”
Mr Tilbury said with the increased terror alert level and serious gun-related incidents more likely in Perth than the country, now was the time to consider the option.
Officers are armed with one of two versions of the Glock pistol, one which can fire a 15-round magazine and another with a 13-round magazine. They have a bullet velocity of 300m a second and an effective range of 30m.
By comparison, AR-15s have a 200m range and the .223 calibre rounds travel at 900m a second.
“The proposal has a lot of merit as the police-issue Glock pistols are effectively a short range or close quarters firearm, not often suited to some of the onerous tasks associated with policing,” Sporting Shooters Association of Australia WA president Ron Bryant said.
The NSW Police Association made a similar request in the wake of the Lindt Cafe siege in December 2014.
WA Police said it does not provide comment on operational matters, but all security arrangements were subject to review “given the current global environment”.