This weeks prompt was "it happened at the Station." Lots of good pieces written about travel, scenery and the ever changing landscape of the UK. All prompted by Trains, Stations and train Journeys. I'm not sure if I captured the same nostalgic pictures.
It happened at the station. No one really saw it coming but the signals were there. Faster than a speeding train it was. It just came out of nowhere. Well obviously it never came out of nowhere. It exploded along the gun barrel’s tracks but it was just so unexpected.
Back in the early 80’s Glasgow was a violent city but it wasn’t like today where the general public were geared up for attacks everywhere including a station. Back then gunfire was confined to organised crime and gangsters. It happened in pubs or housing schemes it didn’t happen at a station where people were milling about and that night no one expected a shot to be fired in a busy station with lots of innocent people there.
Ok we had guns but we were the mob and there were bad guys out there. I suppose with all the guns kicking about it was inevitable but it was still crazy. Yes, we took guns into public places. Well you had to but you don’t expect gunfire in a station. The week before Alex, Frazer and I had been down to Carlisle and Blackpool looking for another gangster and we took a gun because the wise guy we were looking for was armed. We ended up in a night club. I suppose there were innocent people there too but hey what are supposed to do, hand in your gun and get a cloakroom ticket. We were lucky we didn’t have to use it but dance hall shootouts did happen.
Shout outs were a reality but not in the station. Two weeks before that the boss and a few of the lads were in a shootout in a cemetery but there were no innocents about. It was just them and the guys they had ambushed. It was lucky the bad guys were rotten shots. No one was disturbed apart from maybe those who were already dead and buried.
Fuck it, the month before, George had popped a bad guy in a taxi because he had pulled a gun on him. That was a mess. Still he was lucky he shot the bad guy first or he’d be dead and buried. Now all he had to worry about was the fact the police had taken his gun off him and were considering him for attempt murder but shooting a gun in a station was madness. It was almost as stupid as the time Lambie and I were sitting in a flat in the 15th floor of a high rise block with instructions to shoot some halfwit in a flat in the next block if he tried to shoot our guys. I mean we had a hand gun. How are you supposed to hit anyone with a pistol from that distance? It’s not like the firm gave us a sniper rifle, come on be serious. It’s lucky we didn’t have to shoot. Who knows what we might have hit.
I mean it’s not funny but you have to laugh. What about the time Wullie was involved in that robbery and he dropped his gun? He didn’t even realise it till the old lady pointed it out. Three times he told her to mind her own business before he saw she was trying to give him his gun back. He was lucky she never shot him. What a red neck but Callum takes the biscuit. His fiasco was even worse than the time Gordon fired a bullet through the roof of his own car when trying to get hold of a drug shipment from another moving vehicle. I’m glad I was outside the car at the time, it was pure luck he never shot any of his mates.
All these things were laughable but How could it happen in the station? I mean that tops it all. Bang! Callum pulled the trigger, Why the hell did he do that? He could have hit anybody. Stupid bastard nearly blew his own head off. He was lucky the hole was in the ceiling and not in his brain. He just stood there like a twat staring at the gun smoke coming out the barrel. The smell of cordite was powerful but every one of us had shat ourselves and now Callum’s arse was twitching more than anyone’s as the Inspector swatted away the dust and plaster that was falling from the custody suite ceiling onto his hair. “Did you train to become a halfwit, Constable, or does it come naturally” asked the inspector.
Well wasn’t that a silly story but the scariest part is it’s just a snap shot from my early experience in plain clothes policing. Not surprisingly they took the guns off of the detectives and created specialist units who did nothing but train with guns. Almost 25 years later just before I retired nothing had changed. In fact, it may even have got worse. Whilst these incidents relate to the early eighties it should be noted that the number of armed police officers accidentally shooting themselves, and other colleagues, has soared. Now, nearly half of all injuries caused by police shootings are the result of officers blasting themselves or a colleague. We were lucky compared to some of the dafties who were carrying guns when I left.
Source - Daily Mail. (2008) Recent Accidents involving police firearms include:
• A civilian control room operator was shot in the abdomen during a firearms awareness course when a Police firearms officer had been showing staff his Glock pistol, unaware it was loaded.
• A police officer accidentally shot a 48-year-old PC in the body at the range in the police station. Body armour saved him from serious injury.
• A trainee firearms officer shot an instructor in the thigh as he was setting up a target in a mock-up of a night-time alley.
• A diplomatic protection officer shot himself in the leg getting into a car.
• A firearms officer shot himself in the leg and foot after his gun became caught in his clothing.
• An airport security officer shot the top of his thumb off when he put it in front of his MP5 sub-machine gun during training.
The lesson is that people get injured when there are guns around – even when the gun user is as highly trained and specialist as a police firearms officer. Trust me the British bobby should never be armed. You can train him till he’s blue in the face but arm him at your own risk.