China / Society

Armed police to patrol streets amid security concerns

By Zhang Yan (China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-22 03:26

More armed police are being deployed nationwide to conduct regular patrols on the streets amid rising concerns over public security, the Ministry of Public Security said on Monday.

Armed police to patrol streets amid security concerns

Armed police gear up for two sessions duty 

Armed police to patrol streets amid security concerns

Xinjiang police boost anti-terror tactics 
"The presence of armed police will enable immediate responses to emergencies and effectively combat violent crimes," said Yan Zhengbin, deputy director of the ministry's public security management bureau.

The police will be armed with handguns and patrol city streets in key areas as well as places with large numbers of people such as railway stations, airports, shopping malls, schools and hospitals.

The move comes after a spate of violent incidents across the country, including a terrorist attack on March 1 in Kunming, Yunnan province, which killed 29 people and injured 143 others.

The armed police will be specially trained and equipped to conduct regular patrols, the ministry said.

"Once they are faced with emergencies, such as when suspects are armed with guns and knives in robberies, (and) are gathering illegally or escaping from criminal activities, the police will decide if they need to use their handguns to deal with the situation," said a source close to the ministry who did not want to be named.

"If it is too late for warnings or if the incident would cause very serious consequences, the police might open fire," he said.

According to a national regulation on the use of police weapons, police are allowed to fire guns if repeated warnings are ignored during 15 emergencies that pose serious threats to public safety. These include arson, murder, hostage taking, the hijacking of aircraft and theft of ammunition.

Since Sunday, the Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau has deployed 1,000 police officers equipped with revolvers to patrol the streets and key areas.

Similarly, from May 1, 4,000 armed police officers will patrol in Jiangsu province and 120,000 assisting personnel will be deployed for routine patrols.

After armed police were deployed to patrol the streets in Changzhou, Jiangsu, in March, the number of robbery cases that month fell by 15 percent and car thefts fell by 47 percent compared to the same period in 2012, authorities said. Reports of blackmail fell by about 71 percent and pickpocketing cases fell by about 48 percent.

Public security agencies will arrange for police tutors and psychologists to evaluate the ability of officers before they are armed, the ministry said. There will also be personnel files and counseling sessions as part of the evaluation, it said.

"After passing psychological tests, the police officers will receive special training. They are expected to give warnings before firing any weapon," said Bing Minghua, director of the patrol coaching department of Shanghai public security bureau.

They are also expected to attend counseling sessions after opening fire on suspects, he said.

Yan Zhengbin said the ministry is organizing police forces nationwide to receive training to enhance their capabilities in firearms and to regulate the use of them.

Dai Peng, director of the criminal investigation department under the Chinese People's Public Security University, said the recent spate of terrorist activities and violent crimes across the country poses a serious threat to people's lives and property.

"The presence of armed police on the streets will effectively curb crime and improve people's sense of security," he said. "The key issue is to regulate the use of the handguns to prevent the police from abusing their power."

Most members of the public who heard about the move welcomed it.

Beijing taxi driver Zhang Yuchen said: "The presence of armed police on the streets will act as a deterrent to violent crimes and enhance residents' sense of security. But strict discipline will have to be enforced to prevent the police from abusing the firearms."

Dominik Ehmann from Germany said: "As an expat living in Shanghai, I feel safe. I tell every friend who visits that I would go anywhere in China at any time of the day or night. In Germany, policemen and women carry pistols, and that always gives me a strange feeling."

Wang Hongyi contributed to this story

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