James To talks to RTHK’s Janice Wong

The deputy chair of Legco’s security panel has warned that a move to arm off-duty officers could lead to serious consequences and further strain the relationship between the public and the police.

Reacting to a police decision to allow officers to carry retractable batons even while they are not on duty, lawmaker James To said the decision could potentially lead to conflicts even though officers are bound by regulations on the use of weapons.

He said regulations like having to declare their identity before using a baton may not help to prevent trouble.

The officer may have declared his identity to a young suspect he is trying to subdue, but for the people around it may look like a grown up man attacking a youngster and they may try to intervene, he said.

“This will create possible serious conflict. I urge the police to rethink again,” To said.

The Democratic Party legislator also questioned the wisdom of issuing 10,000 officers a weapon when they are not on duty. Many of them are people who do paper work inside stations and are not familiar with crowd control or the use of weapons, he pointed out.

To told RTHK’s Janice Wong that he is worried that this police decision may intensify the violence.