Tribune de Genève.
After the terrorist attack in Nice, Geneva state councillor in charge of security, Pierre Maudet, is calling for better police training in the face of the danger posed by jihadists. He told the Swiss newspaper Schweiz am Sonntag, that specialised antiterrorism training of police personnel is required so officers can neutralise terrorists immediately when they are encountered rather than needing to wait for special commando forces to arrive.
If a crazed gunman is encountered, police personnel need to be able to neutralise the shooter before the situation escalates. The cantons of Geneva, Vaud and Valais have changed police policy with regard to terrorists however heads of the police and justice departments don’t think this is enough. “The training of police officers must be changed rapidly to meet new challenges on the ground. They must know how to react to new threats, like explosive belts” said Geneva police chief, Monica Bonfanti.
“Pierre Maudet would like to turn all police officers into Rambo. It’s not realistic” said national councillor Carlo Sommaruga who would prefer small highly mobile teams of specifically trained officers that can move rapidly.
Others such as Roger Golay (UDC/GE) and Hugues Hiltpold (PLR/GE) support Pierre Maudet. “I feel we are not ready. Police officers are the first to the scene. They must respond quickly” said Hugues Hiltpold.
Former policeman Roger Golay said “The police must adapt to all new threats. Currently, they are well trained to respond to direct violence, but not to hybrid threats.”
Alexandre Vautravers, a global studies expert at the University of Geneva, holds a similar view to Pierre Maudet. All police officers who arrive at the scene first must be capable of reacting to limit the potential number of deaths. They don’t need to be trained to the level of special forces, but they need to be able to return fire to stop a terrorist in the same way that someone administering first aid doesn’t need to be a trained surgeon to stop a hemorrhage.” He also said that acting at a cantonal level is not enough. Coordination between cantonal and federal personnel is needed. He thinks if there was a wave of terrorist attacks in Switzerland right now the police force would be overwhelmed.