Effectiveness and efficiency: Oslo police officers’ perspectives of the necessity and utility of temporarily routinely arming in response to a terrorist threat

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Officers from the Norwegian police were routinely armed with firearms from July 2014 to February 2016 in response to a terror threat. This paper explores the experiences of a sample of officers (N = 16) who were routinely armed during this period. The research took a mixed-methods approach using semi-structured interviews one month before the policy was rescinded. Two key themes emerged. First, officers believed that being routinely armed was advantageous for routine police activities. Officers described that tactical planning had improved as it was no longer necessary to wait for permission to respond with a firearm. The associated tactical freedom triggered an increase in self-belief in their effectiveness and efficiency. Second, officers believed that although officers had observed some behavioural changes when interacting with citizens, over time, citizens became acclimatised to the presence of firearms. These findings provide new empirical evidence relevant to the debate surrounding the implications of permanently arming a routinely unarmed police force.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)672-686
Number of pages15
JournalPolicing and Society
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • firearms
  • militarisation
  • Norwegian police
  • weaponisation

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