The Paris attacks were horrific. And the police are changing their tactics to deal with violent incidents and the indiscriminate killing of civilians.
In Britain, officers are now being trained to “go forward” to confront terrorists. Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Patricia Gallan said in a Paris-style attack, officers’ priority is to stop the terrorists killing more people, even if that means walking over the injured to eliminate the threat, the BBC reports. She said:
We appreciate within that there could be casualties and when meeting that threat they will have to walk over casualties that might have been injured and wait for somebody else to treat them as they go forward.
The most important thing is to actually get to the threat and stop them killing additional people, and that is why we’ve got to keep going forward and not tend to those that are injured at the time.
Terrorists have taken a different tactic—they now shoot hostages instead of taking part in a negotiation. So, she said: “The decision has to be made, and it is a brave decision, about whether you stand back, in which case you may well have more people die, or whether the best thing is to go forward,” she explained, adding, “We believe that is potentially what will save the most lives.”
I think the nature of hostage situations has also changed, because [the Paris gunmen] took hostages, but what were they doing? They were killing them. So we can’t use those tactics that we’ve used in the past where we surround, contain, talk, try, and negotiate.
Days after the Paris attacks, New York mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD commissioner William Bratton announced the department would send a team to Paris to learn more about how the attacks were carried out, and update their tactics accordingly. “The idea that all of them were equipped with these suicide vests,” Bratton said. “We’ll want to know the ballistic capabilities of those vests, how far do those projectiles spew out.”
Back in Britain, the Met has started preparing for an attack on London by increasing its firepower in the wake of the horrific Mumbai terrorist attacks of 2008 that killed 174 people. As Quartz noted after Paris, the Mumbai strikes have now become the global blueprint for terror.
Britain is currently on its second-highest alert level of “severe,” as a terrorist attack is considered highly likely. Police, medics, and firefighters took part in an exercise where they stormed a building taken over by terrorists. The routine training exercise was planned months before the Paris attacks.