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London Police Increase Number of Officers Who Are Armed

Danica Kirka Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016

LONDON (AP) — London has put more armed police officers on the streets — a direct consequence of the attacks on a nightclub and restaurants in Paris last year.

Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said Thursday that the Metropolitan police will train 600 more firearms officers, increasing the number of armed officers to around 2,800. The police will also double the number of armed response vehicles — giving authorities the ability to respond quickly to any attack.

"By increasing the number of armed response vehicle officers we have we can make sure that our firearms response continues to come from a group of highly specialist and highly skilled officers," Hogan-Howe said in a statement.

The Met declined to say how many armed officers might be on the streets at any one time, saying that to "provide such detail may be of use to those who plan to attack London."

Londoners are proud that most police do not carry guns, and the decision announced Thursday after a review does not change the fundamental principle that they should routinely be unarmed. Even with the changes, 92 percent of London's 31,000 police officers will be not carry guns.

But the Paris attacks — in which gunmen fired into crowds of people — underscored the challenge police face in responding to a situation in which they are outgunned.

"The tragic attacks in Paris reinforced the vital role that firearms officers would be called upon to play on behalf of all of us, to run forward and confront the deadly threat that such attackers would pose," Hogan-Howe said "Whilst I sincerely hope it is something that never happens on our streets, it is only right that the Met are as ready as can be."

Armed response vehicle officers are trained to respond to so-called "marauding terrorist firearms" attacks. Such training was developed following attacks in India in 2008, a series of bombings and shootings in the heart of Mumbai that killed 166 people.

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