The terrorist attacks in Paris have prompted law enforcers in Great Britain to ponder an issue that might be considered esoteric in the U.S.: Should police officers shoot to kill when facing armed attackers? A police official told the Guardian that an elite anti-terrorism unit of 130 armed officers would be dispatched with a goal to arrest the attackers but would be prepared to “neutralize” them. “We're police officers, not soldiers. We're not at war. Our job is to arrest people,” the source said.
The Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, insisted on Tuesday that there was no shoot-to-kill policy. He told LBC radio, “The law says that the police can use reasonable force, firstly to stop a crime, and secondly, to arrest someone who is putting someone else in danger. If someone's life is at risk, a police officer can intervene. If they are armed or otherwise so dangerous, we can stop them.” He added that officers “work within the law.” Most British police officers do not carry guns. If officers fire weapons, they must show they were acting in the defense of themselves or others and that their actions were proportionate.