“Hands-up... if you want me to put police with guns and tazers on your streets”, Mexborough’s top cop has offered stunned residents at a public meeting!
Insp Ray Mountford took the bizarre on-the-spot straw poll on whether to bring armed police onto the town’s streets... after announcing that crime rates in the town were “extremely low”!
He then stunned some 25 residents at a Partners and Commuties Together (PACT) meeting, by putting his suggestion to the vote…
And the people voted YES!
But after making his out-of-the-blue offer, the former Manchester United and Millers goalkeeper, said he did NOT want to sent the wrong message.
But he told the Times after the meeting that he WOULD now consider making an approach to more senior officers for armed police to be brought into Mexborough when available.
At the monthly PACT meeting, at Mexborough Resource Centre, Insp Mountford – boss of the Doncaster West Safer Neighbourhood Team – asked his bemused audience: “If I asked the officers to come up with firearms, is that too OTT?
“If I want them in, I can have them, but I do not want to send the wrong message out.
“They are just cops, patrolling, but instead of having just gas, they have tazers.”
He added that he thought potential criminals would see the “guns and tazers” as a deterrent, and then asked the audience to vote on the issue.
Not all voted – but a show of hands revealed 13 people in favour of the idea, with eight against.
A resident who opposed it raised concerns that armed police may, in fact, encourage criminals to challenge them with weapons of their own.
But Insp Mountford said: “I do not think that would happen on the streets, because they would be locked up straight away”.
And he then admitted: “touch wood, in Mexborough, we have a very, very small number of incidents of firearms – and if they are, they are BB guns.”
Another resident, in favour of the move, said: “This will send a message out to the people who cause violence in pubs for instance, and it will also reassure people”.
Insp Mountford was keen to emphasise that his idea of bringing firearms officers in was not in response to any recent crime wave in the town.
He said crime figures for December were extremely low, and that more patrol officers had been brought in to be based at Mexborough Police Station.
With regard to firearms officers, he added: “I do not want to scare people, and it would not be that they would be in all the time.
“Again I do not want to frighten people, but I want to use central resources from just over the border.
“We want people to come into the town and feel safe.”
Town councillor Sue Phillips, who was at the meeting, admitted afterwards that she was “uneasy” about it.
She said: “I think this should be handled in a very sensitive way.
“We do not want to encourage people with firearms to come into the town.
“These officers have already been out and about in the town, and if they are here on their downtime, to support the patrols that we already have, then it could be a positive thing.
“But I will be monitoring the situation and if I do not feel that it is working well then I will be sitting down with Ray Mountford asking is this such a good idea?”