‘s-Hertogenbosch – It is Sunday afternoon when a report comes in via the control room that a man is waving a firearm in the Otto Copesstraat in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. That message immediately puts the agents on alert. The heavy vests come on and the adrenaline flows through the body. Once on scene, officers see four men. It is unclear at that time which of the men has the observed firearm in his pocket.
The men are approached by the colleagues and the atmosphere quickly turns grim. Then another man, walking out of a house, joins the group of men. Because of the still present threat of a firearm, colleagues hold the group of men at gunpoint. Then one man in the group reacts completely unexpectedly by grabbing his waistband with both hands as if to draw a weapon.
One of the officers fires a warning shot in the air, as per procedure. Only then do those involved decide to cooperate – still under verbal protest. The men are searched one by one and the firearm is found in one man. At least… a fake firearm. A firearm that is indistinguishable from the real thing with the naked eye. Especially not from a distance.
The 4 men were arrested and released on Sunday evening. The man who had the weapon in his pocket will soon be told by the Public Prosecution Service how the case will be settled.
Impact on the agents
An incident such as this has a major impact on the colleagues involved. Colleague J.: “With such a report you are immediately ‘on’, with your heart rate immediately skyrocketing. We had to deal with suspects who did not want to cooperate and emotional bystanders that you also have to take care of. I am glad that I made the right choice and that I was able to go back to my training and that my warning shot was enough to force cooperation. But this could have turned out very differently. I realize that and that does something to me.”
Another colleague admits that he was very close to the decision to shoot aimed: “The suspect kept resisting, even after he was lying on the ground. I wonder why he wanted to take this risk. That question dominates now, a few days later, with me.”
Warning: this can happen if you have a (fake) firearm in your pocket
It is dangerous to have a (fake) firearm with you. To begin with, (fake) firearms are prohibited on the street and in other public spaces. If you do take your (fake) firearm on the street and the police cannot see whether it is real or fake, the police will use a special procedure. This is called the Approach Technique for Dangerous Suspects (BTGV). This is dangerous for you and also very scary.
How does that procedure work?
The police deploy a BTGV if they think someone has a firearm. It goes like this:
1. The police find a suspect with a (fake) firearm. Or the police receive a report that someone is walking with a firearm;
2. The police approach this suspect with their own firearms aimed and loaded;
3. Officers give the suspect a verbal warning, for example: “If you reach for your gun, you will shoot”;
4. If the suspect does not listen to the warning, the police will fire a warning shot. This is a shot in the air (not aimed at the suspect);
5. If the suspect still does not listen, the police will shoot directly at the suspect.
Of course, the way the police act may differ per situation, but this is the general procedure.
In short: having a fake firearm in your pocket can literally turn out to be life-threatening.
Information source: Politie.nl