We had an armed response vehicle attend our last training day, so we can keep up to date on what they want from us and vice versa during incidents. As usual, it’s an excuse to go down to their car and look at all their toys. When I joined 20 years ago, they had unmarked Volvo Saloons, and you could always tell the firearms cars from unmarked traffic cars from the dents in the boot – there was so much stuff in there, it would only shut if you slammed the boot down on the contents. Battering ram and various other MOE (Method Of Entry) gear, ballistic shields, high power lamps, paramedic gear, bags of ammo, bags of god knows what, Volvo didn’t make cars with this stuff in mind.
These days, we have high performance German estate cars with much more room, especially under the bonnet. They have bulletproof windscreens, kevlar built into the doors, run-flat tyres, satnav, vastly improved handling (the volvos had a turning circle like an oil tanker), better radios, better storage for the toys. The users don’t seem to have improved in quite the same way, however. One of the crew referred to the other as Gollum, and to be fair, there was a slight resemblance. I enquired what his nickname was, if his oppo was a Lord of the Rings character, and he smugly said he didn’t have a nickname as he hadn’t done anything stupid at work yet. Which led onto the following nicknames for other members of the shift.
There was Sparky, so named for a little faux pax on his last taser requalification course. The X-26 taser has a second cartridge clipped into the handle, so if you need to reload it in a hurry, you’re simply reaching for one hand with the other, not fumbling around in a pouch on your belt whilst some crack-crazed lunatic runs at you with a knife, hell-bent on carving your face off then eating it. Simple drill. Release trigger, take off and drop the fired cartridge, grab the new one, stick it on the front, remove hand and fire. All can be done without taking your eyes off the target.
Sparky had a go on the range, and under the pressure of the scenario being run at speed, neglected to take his finger off the trigger when touching the old cartridge to take it off. Tasering himself in the process. Oops. As the taser tightens your muscles, he couldn’t take his finger off the trigger, or his hand off the contacts on the nasty end of the taser, thus tasering himself continuously until someone could force his finger off the trigger. Oh, how we laughed.
Or there’s Snuggles, who sent a soppy message to his wife on Whatsapp. Unfortunately for him, he mistakenly posted it on the team Whatsapp group instead. Which will take a while to live down.
Or there’s Banger. The ARV’s carry stun grenades, basically the worlds loudest firework, which temporarily blind you and throw out several bangs so loud they will blow your eardrums out, by the time you can see and balance again, you’re in cuffs. It’s unpleasant, but if you’re being naughty with a firearm it certainly beats a rifle bullet through the chest. These used to be stored in a bag in the passenger footwell, along with the two carbines they carry – a short barrelled rifle, more than accurate enough to take baddies out from 200M away.
Banger took the carbine out of the bag to repack it while his oppo was driving, and somehow managed to snag the pin of the stun grenade with the carbine as he pulled it out. It went off in the footwell, trashing the rest of the bags contents and setting fire to it in the process. How the driver managed not to crash as it went off, I’ll never know.
Stun grenades are now stored in a separate metal box with a clip closure lid.