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POLICE

‘Cowboy’ police slammed after Stockholm shootout

Police who opened fire on robbers following a jewellery shop burglary in Stockholm last week have been branded as “American cowboys” by a criminologist after it came to light that the assailants never fired a single shot.

'Cowboy' police slammed after Stockholm shootout

A total of 16 shots were fired in the incident, with all the bullets coming from guns fired by the police.

At first it was believed that the March 6th shootout in Stockholm’s upscale Östermalm district was a reaction by police when the criminals opened fire.

A subsequent investigation has revealed, however, that the robbers never fired any shots, and it is in fact unknown if they were even in possession of any weapons.

“If the data is correct, one or more police officers behaved like American cowboys. This is extremely serious,” said criminologist Jerzy Sarnecki to Metro newspaper.

“Even if police officers have perceived the situation as extremely dangerous they still can’t just shoot this way. It simply cannot occur.”

Sarnecki continued to point out that such an incident raises further questions about the competence of the Swedish police force.

“What sort of police force do we have in this country? What sort of instructions do they get? Does the training and leadership work?” he said to the paper.

Ten of the shots fired by police went directly through the window of a nearby gym, coming dangerously close to injuring people who were training at the time. No one was injured, however.

The revelations about police officers being the only ones firing shots came during an Sveriges Television (SVT) interview with prosecutor Katarina Bergström.

When consulted whether this was a necessary action, Bergström hinted the officers’ actions may not have been warranted.

“I have no information saying that they should have,” she told SVT.

After the shootout, three men were arrested by police.

The police have since launched an investigation into the matter.

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PROTESTS

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.

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