New article by Dr Clare Farmer & Dr Richard Evans: Primed and Ready: Does Arming Police Increase Safety? Preliminary Findings

In the past 30 years, police have become increasingly militarized in their uniforms, equipment, and approach. Arming police, and ensuring that their weapons are more powerful, numerous, and visible, is typically justified in rhetorical terms: it is common sense that police need to be armed; otherwise they would be unable to do their job. The implication is that a police officer without a gun is automatically helpless and ineffective. Our study is examining the belief, often expressed as an unchallengeable truth, that arming police is essential for both community and officer safety. This trump card is typically used to assuage philosophical or practical concerns about the weaponization of police: it effectively shuts down further discussion. There is literature that argues that armed, aggressive, and/or military style policing can negatively affect safety, but this contention is rarely tested in a real-world context. In this article, we offer a comparison of four jurisdictions. All are similar in terms of governance structures, socioeconomic indicators, and cultural links, but they differ in the degree to which their police are routinely armed. In light of recent events, and a renewed debate regarding the routine arming of currently unarmed police, this article sets out preliminary findings from a wider research project, which is seeking an evidence-based answer to the question “Does arming police increase safety?”

Access full paper here.

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