Very interesting research paper recently published in the International Journal of Human Rights, written by Clare Farmer and Richard Evans
In most parts of the world, the routine arming of police officers is an established and expected norm. A ‘common sense’ rhetoric underpins support for police to be routinely armed. Armed police, it is argued, are inherently protective and improve safety for everyone. However, there is little empirical evidence to demonstrate that jurisdictions which deploy routinely armed police are intrinsically safer, or more effectively uphold the basic human rights of civilians to be safe. This paper acknowledges the work (in this journal) of Osse and Cano, who reported a clear association between fatal shootings by police and homicide rates across 11 jurisdictions. We re-focus their thesis to the specific context of the routine arming of police officers. We compare four jurisdictions – two are routinely armed, two are routinely unarmed – to examine the presumption that routinely arming our police makes the policed community safer. The findings are mixed and, in parts, surprising. Overall, there is insufficient evidence to support the expectation that the routine presence of armed police increases and ensures community safety. Further research is needed, but our findings provide an empirical basis from which to challenge calls to arm police in currently unarmed jurisdictions.
Full paper is available here