In this video we take a look at the police officers who have trained to be firearms officers. When you see a police officer with a gun in Devon, Cornwall and Dorset, does that necessarily mean that there is a firearms situation happening? Read our Q&As to find out.
You can follow the Alliance Operations department on Twitter at @AllianceOpsDept where we welcome your comments and queries.
Q: Are all firearms officers male?
A: No. Across the Alliance there are both male and female officers.
Q: Do firearms officers have to be certain age and/or rank?
A: No. Generally officers are constables, sergeants and inspectors. They can be any age providing they can pass the fitness tests.
Q: Are firearms officers paid more than non-armed police officers?
Q: How long does it take to train to be a firearms officer?
A: The Initial Firearms Course is 11 weeks with refresher training throughout the year.
Q: Are all firearms officers volunteers?
Q: Are there different sorts of firearms officers? What might they specialise in?
A: All firearms officers are trained to the same base role profile however some specialise in other areas including rifle, close protection, dynamic entry, surveillance and command.
Q: Why do I sometime see officers with guns at incidents where there is no need for firearms, such as a road traffic collision?
A: Firearms officers have a standing authority to overtly carry a sidearm whilst on duty. They carry additional skills such as traffic policing, therefore will routinely assist at other incidents such as road traffic collisions (RTCs) and will also assist with general police duties as they are sworn constables.
Q: Have Alliance Officers ever had to shoot anyone in Devon, Cornwall or Dorset?
A: Yes. The last shooting was in 2004.
Q: How long would it take for armed officers to reach an incident that required the use of firearms?
A: The police aim to attend all immediate incidents with 15 minutes in urban locations and 20 minutes for rural locations. This is often very much quicker however is dependent on where the nearest police resource is at the time of the call.
Q: What is an A.R.V.?
A: Armed Response Vehicle
Q: What firearms are armed officers trained to use? What is contained in an A.R.V.?
A: An ARV carries weapons and ammunition, including less lethal weapons in order to deal with a spontaneous firearms incident. They also carry collision equipment such as signs, cones as well as enhanced first aid equipment such as blood and airway management, an automatic external defibrillator (AED) and oxygen.
Q: I have seen armed officers with a side arm in a holster. What is it and does this stay with them all the time?
A: The preferred side arm for the Alliance is the Glock 17 pistol and will generally be carried whilst on duty under the standing authority.
Q: Have Alliance firearms officers been deployed outside the three counties, to assist other police or security forces?
A: Yes. Mutual aid is often called upon for large events such as G8 Conference, Olympics etc.