Sept. 25 (UPI) -- British troops are on standby to assist London's Metropolitan Police after more than 100 armed officers handed their weapons back to protest one of their colleagues being charged with murder in the shooting death of a 24-year-old man.
The Ministry of Defense agreed to temporarily transfer or assign soldiers to support the capital's armed police units with counter-terrorism cover after receiving a request from the Home Office on Sunday.
"We have accepted a Military Aid to the Civil Authorities request from the Home Office to provide routine counter-terrorism contingency support to the Metropolitan Police, should it be needed," said an MOD spokesperson.
The police officers turned in their weapons permits after a colleague -- identified only as NX121 -- was charged Thursday with murdering construction worker Chris Kaba in south London in September 2022. Kaba, who was unarmed, died after the officer allegedly fired a single shot through the windshield of the car he was driving.
They say the risk to themselves and their loved ones from criminal prosecution for discharging their firearms in the course of doing their jobs means being an armed officer is no longer a viable option.
The officer, who is free on bail after appearing at the Old Bailey courthouse on Thursday and has yet to enter a plea, is due back in court on Dec. 1.
Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said the current system undermined his officers and called for them to be granted greater legal protection.
"There is a concern on the part of firearms officers that even if they stick to the tactics and training they have been given, they will face years of protracted legal proceedings which impact on their personal wellbeing and that of their family. While previous reviews have been announced, they have not delivered change," Rowley said Sunday in a letter to Home Secretary Suella Braverman.
"Carrying a firearm is voluntary. We rely on officers who are willing to put themselves at risk on a daily basis to protect the public from dangerous criminals including terrorists. Officers need sufficient legal protection to enable them to do their job and keep the public safe, and the confidence that it will be applied consistently and without fear or favor."
Braverman launched an urgent review Sunday into how officers are held to account when force is used.
The Met's 34,000 officers, of which 2,595 are armed, deal with about 4,000 incidents a year involving armed suspects with officers opening fire on two or fewer instances, equivalent to about 0.05% of armed operations, according to Britain's largest force.