March 22, a sobering day for the British public as by the end of it, a city overcome with grievance and shock, had to accept the reality that public safety is a fragile myth. The millions that move freely around London now with some iota as to the danger they, you or I could encounter on any given moment might seem like a widespread case of paranoia and is not the appropriate action to take in my view.
By no means am I implying that we should resign from making any precautionary measures for ourselves and those close to us, but the unfortunate truth is when an event as horrifying as the London attack occurs, the callousness and brutality of it surprises us and invariably is not an ordeal we think to prepare for. For this reason in the aftermath we become afraid as we question the extent of our safety. The fear is justified but giving into the fear is a mistake and is only serving the objective of extremists. Sadly not for the first time have we found ourselves spending a day in front of the TV when an attack is explained to us by security experts and witnesses and we think – Where is it safe to go out? When is it safe to go out? I think this is a futile exercise as we can all be guilty of thinking after an attack that increased security and vigilance from authorities will ensure another attack doesn’t happen for a while, like terrorism is seasonal.
It is often completely random and can occur in the most unassuming places if anything. Shaping your activities so that you won't be in a high profile area or amongst a mass number of people won't necessarily protect you.
On that ill-fated day the first line of defence was PC Keith Palmer who gave his life so that the attacker couldn’t advance into the Houses of Parliament where a few high profile targets were inside. There is no question Palmer embodied the spirit of bravery as he confronted a knife-wielding attacker who had already through vehicular means claimed and injured the lives of a dozen people.
That spirit in the face of adversity has always served public safety. Speaking from my own experience I have seen first hand the Police’s handling of a situation prevent a potentially dangerous outcome. I’ll keep this anecdote short but years ago like any young kid who goes to a playground, I would beeline straight for the swings. My brother and me spent less than five minutes in a park off Charlton Street when a gentleman dressed in baggy jeans, a hoodie and a black beanie came hurriedly around the corner on a BMX bike, closely pursued by a police car. The UK’s answer to Jesse Pinkman thought he been savy by pulling into the path leading into the playground where the car could not follow. However, not before the police car could pull up alongside, and the officer passenger side flew out of the car and tackled poor Jessie to the ground.
In the moment I thought the whole thing was a spectacle and one of those Holy Sh- moments. Now I’m old enough to know better and I appreciate that the police had arrested a man who as it turned out was the furthest thing from a saint. The swift and decisive action they take where members of the public are at threat needs a lot more respect in my view.
The point of this is that we need to stop behaving like we must keep sheltered away from the world in fear. Speaking for the UK at least, the police have not given us a reason to not trust that they can protect us. Its natural in the wake of terror for us to question that, but everyday without our knowing the police have thwarted countless terror plots and their work to protect the streets is pointless if no one is on them.