FIREARMS officers have been a familiar sight in recent weeks as armed cops were deployed on the streets to reassure the public following the terror attacks.
West Midlands Police’s own armed units worked alongside colleagues from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary on permanent postings at more than 20 strategic sites.
In Staffordshire the public would have also seen armed officers on high visibility patrols around the streets and at local attractions such as Drayton Manor Park and the National Memorial Arboretum.
Those high-visibility teams have been stepped down with the lowering of the UK’s terror threat − but the force’s firearms officers remain on mobile patrol and standby 24/7 to protect the public against the threat of gun or knife crime.
Similar Armed officers are also on permanent 24/7 patrol in Staffordshire, as well as surrounding Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire
Chief Inspector Danny Delaney from West Midlands Police’s Firearms Unit, said: “Rest assured we have Armed Response Vehicles (ARVs) patrolling the West Midlands around the clock to keep people safe.
“They are not high-visibility units; they get about in unmarked police vehicles and it’s likely most people will have been passed by one our ARVs at some stage without realising there were armed police on board.
“These officers are trained to the highest standard and are on hand and equipped to swiftly respond to any emerging incidents should the need arise.”
West Midlands Police Chief Constable Dave Thompson made a vow to bolster the force’s firearms reserves − and in the last 12 months the number of armed front-line officers has increased by a third.
In fact, there are now more armed police employed by West Midlands Police than at any time in the past.
Firearms officers must pass a demanding 10-week course that not only tests physical and technical attributes but also temperament, mental toughness and extreme-pressure decision making.
Chief Insp Delaney, added: “It’s a tough physical and mental challenge because, unashamedly, we only want the most competent firearms officers on the streets of the West Midlands protecting the public. And I have to be 100 per cent confident in the ability of each and every one of them.
“Success in our eyes is to resolve a situation without having to reach for a weapon − but there will sometimes be occasions where this is necessary and absolutely the right thing to do to protect the public.”
Find out what it takes to become a West Midlands Police firearms officer with this series of short films following candidates through training on this link.