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  • Writer's pictureAndy Oldham

Armed Policing Part 1 - the TFC

First off, full disclosure - this is the role I performed in the Metropolitan Police for 5 years!

TFC stands for Tactical Firearms Commander, a police officer of at least the rank of Inspector, who has received special training in firearms deployments and tactics, and been suitably accredited by the College of Policing. All TFCs must undergo annual appraisals to stay "in ticket", and must reaccredit every five years.

Whenever firearms officers are deployed, they will be under the command of a TFC. The TFC is the one who assesses the incoming information (for example, a phone call from a member of the public) about a threat requiring possible deployment of firearms officers, and makes the decision whether or not to use armed officers, or other police resources.

They have to assess the information from the caller, intel about the address, any named suspects, whether the area means the information is more or less credible (for example, I've had calls where someone is reporting gunshots but they live in a rural area where farmers use shotguns. Doesn't mean it's not a firearms threat, but all angles have to be considered).

Once they've decided that the job meets the criteria for the deployment of armed officers, the TFC develops a tactical plan based on the information and intelligence that they have before them. Often, with a fast moving spontaneous incident, this information is patchy and incomplete, but time is often critical and the TFC must nonetheless make decisions about where are the officers to be sent and what tactics should they use.

Not all TFCs are firearms officers. It is not necessary nor a requirement. Fortunately TFCs are supported by a Tactical Advisor, a police officer experienced in firearms tactics and training. They will advise the TFC on the most appropriate tactics to resolve a particular situation. I have worked with many tacads over the years, they are almost all experienced firearms officers and their knowledge and advice is worth its weight in gold.

Usually for a spontaneous incident, the TFC will be deploying Armed Response Vehicles (ARVs - see my other blog post for more) and will be located remotely (for example, in a police control room). In the Met, some TFCs are armed and patrol with the ARVs but this is rare in UK policing.

The TFC will communicate with the firearms team via radio, providing direction, control and updated information. They will work with the OFC (Operational Firearms Commander), who will be out on the ground. See my other blog post for more about OFCs.

Some TFCs undertake additional training to become accredited to command planned operations, where information about a future firearms threat is available and there is time to plan a response. I did this for many years, and it's a fascinating and challenging role. Above and beyond even that, there's a Specialist TFC role for those looking to get involved in planning and delivering counter terrorist operations.

You can find out more about Armed Policing here from the College of Policing.

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