Techie1 + 2,024 Posted May 25, 2017 Share Posted May 25, 2017 Ex-Met marksman Tony Long talks exclusively to PoliceOracle.com about life as one of Britain's most high profile armed officers. Mr Long believes more officers will be required to carry firearms in the future For the majority of officers trained to use firearms, pulling the trigger in a live scenario is a remote prospect they hope never to face. But for one now retired officer in particular, not only did this situation occur more than once, it came to define his career and shape his life. Tony Long, 60, was involved in three fatal shootings and received seven commendations during his 33 year career as a specialist firearms officer with the Metropolitan Police Service, a record which carries with it both respect and notoriety. The shooting of Azelle Rodney is undoubtedly the incident most associated with Mr Long and the one which has had the most impact on his life and career, as well as the lives of others. Rodney, Frank Graham and Wesley Lovell were in a hired silver Volkswagen Golf driving across north London to carry out an armed robbery on rival drug dealers on April 30, 2005. Being trailed by several units they were seen collecting three weapons which intelligence suggested were MAC-10 sub-machine guns. As the car passed the Railway Tavern on Hale Lane, Barnet, it was subject to a hard stop by armed officers including Mr Long. At the moment the cars came to a stop, the former marksman has always maintained he saw Rodney duck down and re-emerge with his shoulders hunched as if preparing to open fire on his fellow officers. It was this action which prompted him to shoot the 24 year-old dead and which sparked ten years of investigations, a public inquiry, a murder trial, and the end of Mr Long’s career with the Met. As we sit down for a pint in a grand Victorian pub in east London, a short walk from his old unit HQ at 337 Old Street, Tony tells me Azelle Rodney would still be alive today if he had just put his hands up. He said: “If I could have seen his hands and I could have seen they were empty, I would not have shot him. “If he had ducked down and stayed down without springing back up, I would not have shot him. “If he had behaved in the same way as the other two men in the vehicle and just put his hands up he would have survived.” When asked if, in the moments, months and years since the shooting, he has ever doubted his decision that day he responded: “No. Never.” Previous to the Azelle Rodney incident Tony Long was involved in two other fatal shootings. He shot Errol Walker in 1986 after the 30-year-old had stabbed his sister in law to death, threw her out of a third floor window and stabbed her four-year-old daughter through the neck, as well shooting dead two armed robbers at an abattoir a year later. Walker was later convicted of the murder of Jackie Charles, 22. Candid and full of anecdotes about ‘The Job’ Mr Long held the air of a man weathered by his experiences but not dominated by them. He tells me it was not until years later he realised the impact of his employment on his family. He said: “In truth it’s probably had more of an impact on my family than me. With the first two (shootings) I was a young father with two young kids, I was very ‘job pissed’, I perhaps was not as sensitive as I could have been to the effect it was having on them. “It’s only years later that people admitted they did worry about me. “The trial had a big impact on my wife, we weren't even together at the time of the incident, she is a very strong character and not the type to tell you when something is bothering her. “It was only after the not guilty verdict when she had five minutes of emotion that I realised how much pressure I had put on them.” The 60-year-old maintains the job has not had any real impact on him as he was always “prepared” for what carrying a gun on behalf of the state entails. He said: “In terms of me I would like to think it has not had any real affect as far as I am concerned. “if you take the training seriously you understand what you are being asked to do and when you do have to do it, it shouldn’t be a surprise. “If I wasn’t prepared for that I wouldn’t have taken that career path.” Mr Long, who authored a book about his career Lethal Force following the completion of his trial for murder, believes more officers should be firearms trained and the concept of policing by consent needs to be better understood in terms of firearms. He said: “I think the problem is that we have gone from multi-skilled officers to a situation where all of our authorised shots are now specialists. “In the same way that we have a lot more Taser trained officers now I don’t see why you can’t have officers trained to use a handgun rather than needing to be a specialist trained firearms officer, we have a need for specialists but you also need more general training. “The problem is the whole image of armed police flies in the face of this unarmed image we are obsessed with projecting. “I take exception to ‘policing by consent’ because a lot of people who use that phrase don’t really know what it means. “Saying that you can’t police by consent because you are armed I think is insulting to the Dutch and Swedish police for example, they still go into schools and talk to kids about road safety with a gun in a holster. “There is a perception that we cannot do this job without being unarmed, I think it’s nonsense.” As our pint glasses empty and the conversation winds to a conclusion, Mr Long tells me his future is uncertain following the end of his policing career but that he is not ready for retirement just yet. He is certain of one thing though: “The job will have to give serious consideration to saying to all recruits ‘when you join up it is on the understanding that, if required to do so, you will undergo firearms training and carry a firearm if you are needed to.’ “If the police are here to protect the public, then how can we do that if we cannot protect ourselves?” View on Police Oracle 3 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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