There was something different on the streets of London today, as law enforcement authorities officially unveiled “Operation Hercules.” The police federation announced that it will take about two years to increase the number of trained armed officers—to be spread throughout the country– to 1,500.
Out of that 1,500– 600 will be based in London, officials said. Some of the masked, armed patrols took to the streets of the capital city today. The additional officers will be present in “highly visible locations across the UK capital to protect against the threat of attacks,” CNN reported.
The recent terrorist attacks across Europe have spurred city leaders to deploy the extra officers, in an effort to protect their citizens.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that while there’s no reason to be alarmed and while there are no specific known terrorist plots against the city—“it is important we are prepared should the unthinkable happen.”
The threat level in London remains at “severe.” Khan told the press this week: “We’ve learned the lessons from Paris, Munich and Nice.”
In addition to the armed response teams on public patrol, Scotland Yard has specialist counter-terrorism firearms squads –or C men– who are on call 24 hours a day and who can deploy by land or air in the event of an emergency.
This new generation of armed officers has BMW motorbikes to allow them to rush to an incident anywhere in London, and speed boats so they can deploy from the River Thames. They are armed with pistols and semi-automatic SIG Carbine rifles, at major landmarks “as a deterrent to potential attackers,” the Daily Mail reported.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said: Authorities are “deadly serious” about protecting the people of London. He added that the risk of a terror attack in the UK is a case of “when, not if.”
Deputy Chief Constable Simon Chesterman said last month that the majority of new marksmen will be in place by April 2017.
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