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April 21, 2014

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Zhang recalls the day he felt powerless to save life

POLICE officer Zhang Linghe remembers how powerless he felt when a man slashed the throat of 4-year-old girl in front of him four years ago.

“There was a chance I could have shot the suspect and saved the girl if only I had a gun in my hand,” says 48-year-old Zhang.

He was depressed for a long time after the girl died even though the suspect was eventually shot dead by armed police.

Yesterday, Zhang became one of 1,000 officers in Shanghai who will carry guns on routine patrol. However, when he took possession of his gun and put it in his holster, the veteran policeman said he felt more nervous than he had thought.

Zhang said the procedure for getting his gun was strict. First, a member of the police staff had to call a weapons supervisor to switch off an alarm system. Then, the officer on duty used a key to open the door of the weapon depot.

After that, Zhang and his partner Yan Huawei, 28, went inside and used their keys to open two drawers that stored their revolvers. The key to the door and the keys to the drawers are kept by different officers to ensure guns can’t be taken without the duty officer knowing.

The pair then moved to a table where they checked the revolvers and loaded them with bullets. After their patrol, they have to unload the guns on the same table.

Zhang and Yan were on routine patrol from 7am to 3pm yesterday on Huashan Road, Zhenning Road, Wuding Road and Jiangsu Road, with their focus on areas around power substations, gas stations, hospitals and banks.

Wang Wei, instructor at Jiangsu Road Police Station, said carrying a gun is a lot of pressure for an officer, requiring them to have good skills and psychological endurance.

Yan said the gun meant a lot of responsibility and officers had to be strict.

Though many officers thought police should have guns, they said they would be reluctant to fire unless the situation was very dangerous.

“I will spend more time thinking about how to carry the gun and how to use it for the sake of people’s safety,” said armed officer Xiao Zhengrong.

“I do feel some pressure in carrying a gun,” said policeman Wang Haiyi.

“It’s obviously of great help for our daily work. And we will strictly follow the rules and laws when using it,” said Wang, who has been a member of the police force for 21 years.


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