Poor Equipment to Blame?

The Times Online has made much of the poor standard of equipment possessed by the Mumbai police in the recent unpleasantness:

Indian police who bore the brunt of last week’s attacks on Mumbai had defective bulletproof vests, First World War-era firearms and insufficient weapons training, police sources have told The Times.

Many wore plastic helmets and body protectors designed for sticks and stones, rather than bullets, as they fought highly trained militants armed with AK47 rifles, pistols, grenades and explosives.

Now, while I would agree that the disparity in their kit would make a difference, I would remind folks that even had they had  the “normal” kit of a modern police force, the outcome would not be greatly different.  Why?  Because a similar scenario played out in Los Angeles a little over a decade ago.

A blaze of automatic gunfire ripped through a crowded neighborhood after several heavily-armed gunmen dressed like commandos botched a bank robbery.Two suspects were killed, and 15 people were injured, including 10 policemen. None of the injuries incurred during the hour-long shootout was “life threatening,” Los Angeles Police Chief Willie Williams said.

Initially out-gunned, police responded to a scene in North Hollywood that resembled a combat zone. Bullets were flying from all directions into cars and buildings — and bystanders, too.

More than 200 police were on hand for the siege, which lasted more than an hour. Armored personnel carriers and dozens of police cars, fire engines and ambulances were called to subdue the attackers and attend to the wounded.

Wearing body armor and carrying a trunk full of weapons, the robbers were ready for a fight. And that’s exactly what they delivered, firing “multiple hundreds” of rounds, according to police.

Mumbai, 2008

Los Angeles, 1997