Monday, 12 May 2008
On Using My Asp
So far in my career I have used my asp only once in anger, outside of a public order situation.
Of course, I have used it to smash windows, search shrubbery, and poke sleeping colleagues, and have drawn it and racked it many times in readiness, but the truth is that in most of the one on one violent situations I have been in I have not had the time or the space to draw and use it.
I might have been justified in using it, but picture the scene - Police are fighting in a very thin hallway with a suspect for a domestic. He's drunk, possibly on crack and used a knife on his victim which we think he still has. He also has a long history of violence against Police. Only one person can get to him at a time - but the last thing you want is him getting away further into the house where he can arm up, have time to get his weapon out and/or barricade himself in with the victim.
So one by one, coppers try and fight him, and an asp would knock out the Police Officers before it did any harm to the suspect. Even if there was room to draw and rack it.
So although I think it's a useful piece of kit, I think most members of public would be surprised how little it is used.
The scenario described above is a common one; the area I work in has a lot of blocks of flats and housing estates with the horrible thing corridors.
Just before going on annual leave I went to yet another shout the same as above. Police had attended the address and were talking to the victim when the suspect came back. One of the officers on scene had time to call for urgent assistance, and it was immediately obvious that there was a "large disturbance in background" as our reports like to say.
We were all making our way, but of course most of us were on the opposite side of the division. Nevertheless, I was the second responding unit to arrive on scene, to find the situation as above, with lots of screaming and shouting and a Detective from a neighbouring nick sitting outside the front door bleeding and calling for more help on the radio; CID had luckily been in the area doing enquiries and actually had radios turned on, so ended up assisting.
We charged in and I stretched around to try and get a hand on part of the wriggling and fighting suspect in order to try and drag him out to try and control the situation. My crewmate ran out and I found out later smashed a window to climb in the house in order to tackle the suspect from the other side of the corridor.
One of the initial officers, injured and by this point no doubt exhausted, drew his CS and sprayed it.
This was very effective, much more than an asp would be.
On the Police Officers anyway.
As we finally dragged the suspect out, with tears rolling down our faces and coughing, ripped uniforms and two injured officers in tow, the suspect still had time to attempt to headbutt two officers, and to kick a sergeant who had arrived on scene. Not a good idea, incidentally.
As the suspect was pushed into the waiting van and the doors shut, the extractor fan was switched on, and it was immediately obvious that the suspect was recovering from the CS exposure quicker than we were.
London Ambulance attended and cleared away the injured officers to a local hospital, whilst half of the shift trekked back to custody to try and get changed/write notes/wash off the CS crystals. And of course the officer who had sprayed the CS got a little ribbing from his red-eyed colleagues.
I'm not saying I don't want CS or an Asp, but I think it's easy to feel brave with a kit belt on. Knowing their limitations is probably more useful than knowing their possibilities.
I mentioned this to a skipper who had arrived at custody to assist with the welcoming committee for the suspect. He turned to me, and said "Area, you're not a bad copper, but I wouldn't trust you to explore the limits of a wet paper bag without hurting yourself."
Good point, well made.