The Safety is Always On: Police Training on Firearm Use in Denmark

By Henry Milander, Foster Undergraduate who participated in an exchange with Copenhagen Business School (CBS).
Denmark Henry Milander 4During the time I’ve been abroad, some of the biggest events of 2016 for police violence and lone gunmen have happened and are still currently happening. Even on our campus on the night of the presidential inauguration a man was shot yards away from Red Square. This is why it was very interesting for me to meet and speak with Officer Chris, a policeman for Copenhagen’s police force, one of Denmark’s 11 policing districts. Many of those who support police militarization scoff at northern European countries such as Norway and Sweden for lacking a fully armed police force. However, in Denmark of all places, police officers carry a firearm at all times so that they can always respond to the highest level of crime or violence. This is quite similar to the US, however what struck me as different was the training regime and practices that the police rigidly follow here. Chris went through the standard three years of police training in which a pistol was part of the program since day one.

Denmark Henry Milander 6After graduating, Chris is always paired with a second police officer when on duty, which reinforced his training and laid out the limitations on situations in which he may use a gun: only those that are imminently life-threatening. The difference in Denmark from that of the USA might very well be that the vast majority of Danish citizens don’t own guns, which differs from the prevalence of gun ownership in the US, going so far as open-carry laws. It is understandable why US police officers use their guns more given that many more situations they encounter can be life-threatening. However, there have been many instances in the news where it appears a lack of training and/or over-eagerness to brandish a firearm has resulted in unnecessary and unwarranted deaths.

Denmark isn’t perfect as there are still shootings and problems of understaffing, but where the USA can stand to learn is the rigorous training and self-reinforcing policies the police officers receive regarding the use of a gun. Until we consider a more appropriate interpretation of the 2nd amendment for modern times, this increased training and prudence in firearm use might well be the onlyway to save countless innocent lives.