Hundreds of armed cops hand in their weapons in protest over colleague charged with murder
Hundreds of Met firearms officers have handed in their weapons in protest at the treatment of a colleague charged with the murder of Chris Kaba.
The widespread action has left the capital with a “skeleton” armed police capability and alarmed senior Met chiefs.
The London force is said to be planning to apply for armed police assistance from counties under mutual aid rules and could also appeal for help from the military.
Gun cops on the Met’s MO19 firearms command began handing in their blue authorisation cards after their colleague, known as Officer NX121, was charged on Thursday with murdering 24-year-old Mr Kaba.
The dad-to-be died from a single shot to the head while behind the wheel of his Audi in Streatham, South London, on the night of 5 September last year.
Mr Kaba’s vehicle was boxed in by Armed Response Vehicles when it flagged up on an automatic number plate recognition system.
Mr Kaba’s death sparked anger in the black community and relatives and supporters, including rap star Stormzy, marched on New Scotland Yard in protest.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan demanded “justice” for Mr Kaba.
The CPS authorised the charge of murder following an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
But colleagues of Officer NX121 believe he has been ''sacrificed on the altar of political expediency''.
Met commissioner Sir Mark Rowley went to the firearms command’s training base in Gravesend, Kent, later on Thursday to try and soothe their anger over the charge and complaints about a lack of support from senior officers.
Sir Mark addressed 70 gun cops and later issued a statement to his 47,000-strong workforce on the Met’s internal intranet system expressing support.
The commissioner paid tribute to the courage of armed officers, adding: “Indeed, I understand why many of them are reflecting on the potential price of such weighty responsibilities.”
Sir Mark added: “Bravery comes in many forms.
“When officers have the levels of uncertainty and worry I saw in my colleagues today, simply going in and doing their jobs not knowing what incidents are ahead of them is courageous.”
But the commissioner’s intervention was described by one source as “too little, too late.”
The source added: “Hundreds of Authorised Firearms Officers on the MO19 command have handed in their blue tickets.
“They are angry and upset. Their families are worried and therefore they do not believe they are in the right frame of mind to carry a firearm.
“As volunteers they can and are encouraged to withdraw from operational firearms deployments if they believe that they are not in a fit state of mind to carry out duties.
“Many feel that they owe it to themselves and their families to take a period of reflection to decide whether they wish to continue to take the potentially life-changing risk of becoming involved in a shooting.”
Met top brass held an emergency meeting today to discuss the situation.
The situation could worsen if a court rules this week that Officer NX121 should lose his anonymity.
The Sun has learned that only a few officers from the Counter Terrorist Specialist Firearms Operations teams remain on duty in London.
And just a handful of the Met’s front line Armed Response Vehicles are currently out on the streets, a small fraction of the usual number.
It is feared firearms officers from other armed commands, such as the Royal palace, Downing Street and Heathrow, hand in their weapons.
Gun cops from other forces, notably Greater Manchester Police, are also said to be assessing the situation.
A Met Police spokesperson said: ‘’Senior officers, including the Commissioner, have been meeting with firearms officers in recent days as they reflect on the CPS decision to charge NX121 with murder.
‘’Many are worried about how the decision impacts on them, on their colleagues and on their families.
‘’They are concerned that it signals a shift in the way the decisions they take in the most challenging circumstances will be judged.
‘’A number of officers have taken the decision to step back from armed duties while they consider their position. That number has increased over the past 48 hours.
‘‘We are in ongoing discussions with those officers to support them and to fully understand the genuinely held concerns that they have.
‘’The Met has a significant firearms capability and we continue to have armed officers deployed in communities across London as well as at other sites including Parliament, diplomatic premises, airports etc.
‘’Our priority is to keep the public safe. We are closely monitoring the situation and are exploring contingency options, should they be required.’’
Tony Long, a former Met firearms officer acquitted of murdering criminal Azelle Rodney, after shooting him dead in 2005, told The Sun: “There is widespread concern among officers that NX121 will lose his anonymity.
“They also feel betrayed by a total lack of support from the senior management of Scotland Yard.
“Officers within MO19 do not believe they can be expected to fulfil their roles with no support from Scotland Yard.”
The Met’s firearms command was heavily criticised in a report by Baroness Casey earlier this year into the culture and standards of the Met.
Both worked on the Met’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection command.
Mr Long said: “The commissioner seems to have an obsession with cleaning the Met of corrupt officers and there is a feeling he is prepared to sacrifice honest, hard-working officers to do so.
“Firearms officers and their families do not believe he or his senior command have done enough to support them.
“The officers are very upset and concerned they are not in the right frame of mind to carry a firearm.
“They take their duties very seriously and understand the potential consequences of their actions.
“They and would not take this action unless they believed it was necessary but believe that enough is enough.”
Mr Long added: ‘’Officers fully appreciate the need for and expect a full and thorough investigation iilf they find themselves having to resort to their training but have serious concerns about the length of IOPC investigations.
‘’AFOs (Authorised Firearms Officers) do not choose armed confrontation and it is invariably brought about by the reckless actions of others.’’
The dad-to-be's death sparked protests and police investigation Credit: Alamy