Friday, December 24, 2010

Canberra cops accused of torture

A Canberra law firm has lodged unprecedented claims of negligence, systemic abuse and police misconduct on behalf of eight clients sprayed with capsicum foam in separate incidents at Canberra city watch-house in 2006.

Their request for compensation for physical and psychological pain and suffering could cost the government and the former police officers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Each of the men alleges he was assaulted with capsicum foam by former watchhouse sergeant John Arthur Birch or his colleague, Joanne Theta Apostoloff, while detained at the city watch-house for being intoxicated.

The aggrieved men, who include an Aboriginal elder, builders and public servants, say they were tortured and subjected to cruel, inhumane and degrading conduct by the officers and, by extension, the Australian Federal Police and the Commonwealth.

Lawyer Mark Barrow, of Ken Cush & Associates, said a ruling in his clients' favour would be the first finding against the Commonwealth for torturing its citizens and breaching their entitlements under the ACT's Human Rights Act.

But in a document filed in the Supreme Court last week, lawyers for the Commonwealth say the case cannot proceed due to legislation stipulating personal injury claims must be made within three years of an event.

In their defence against one of the men, the lawyers deny their client tortured the man and say the Commonwealth was not liable for the conduct of the AFP or its members. Closed-circuit TV footage of some of the incidents has been filed with the Supreme Court.

In one recording, Birch tells detainee David Helmhout he is being videoed and to "shut up and listen" before spraying him with the foam. Three seconds later, Apostoloff reaches for the can, says "You going to listen now?" and sprays him again. Mr Helmhout, a 53-year-old indigenous man, said the action was unwarranted. "You wouldn't treat an animal in that way," he said. "It was torture. There was no respect. It was criminal."

Another man, 30-year-old builder Dale Reynders, said the officers' behaviour was routine. "They were so sure they would get away with it, they did it right in front of the camera," he said.

Allan Mitchell said he was helping a friend move house in October 2006 when police detained him, sprayed him twice with capsicum spray and repeatedly hit him in the head with the canister. Later, when Mr Mitchell was naked and handcuffed in the watchhouse, Birch allegedly sprayed him in the face.

The lawyer leading the class action said some people who watched footage of the incidents dubbed the city watchhouse "Canberra's Abu Ghraib", in reference to the Baghdad prison where US military personnel abused Iraqi prisoners.

"These eight cases are the tip of the iceberg, and given the findings of the 2007 joint review [of watchhouse operations] by the AFP and the Ombudsman, I expect there are [more] victims of the culture that was allowed to flourish … at the city watchhouse," Mr Barrow said.

Three former members of the AFP have already faced criminal charges over the misuse of the chemical agent and two have been found guilty. Birch, 55, who resigned from the force in 2007, was convicted that year of administering an injurious substance causing pain and discomfort to nine watch-house detainees between February and September 2006.

Birch, who lives in Wamboin in New South Wales, was sentenced on Supreme Court appeal to 500 hours of community service and given a 12-month suspended jail term after initially walking away from the ACT Magistrates Court with a three-month suspended sentence. Four of his victims are plaintiffs in the class action. He said he was defending the lawsuits.

Apostoloff, 31, was found guilty of misusing capsicum spray on a detainee but escaped a conviction for the June 2006 attack. She is no longer a member of the AFP and is believed to be living overseas.

Thug cops escape justice again

They should have been put in front of a jury on a manslaughter charge

THE mother of a Queensland teenager run over and killed after police handcuffed him and forced him to lie on a road is disgusted no charges will be laid.

Andrew Bornen, 16, was lying restrained and face down on a busy suburban roadway in the Ipswich suburb of Brassall when he was struck and killed by a car on February 7, 2009. His heart, aorta and pulmonary trunk were ruptured and he died before an ambulance arrived six minutes later.

Officers had forced the Ipswich teen to lie on the road after reports a youth was armed with a machete in the area. However, Mr Bornen was carrying only a baseball bat when confronted by police and an inquest found he had not been acting aggressively.

Mr Bornen's mother, Helen Donaldson, said the Department of Public Prosecutions told her yesterday no charges would be laid over her son's death. She said the news, delivered just before Christmas, had put her "over the cliff".

"I was a bit disgusted," Ms Donaldson said. "I was very upset, very emotional. I'm down anyway, but for them to ring me two days before Christmas, that is what tops the cake."

Ms Donaldson said she took comfort that the inquest had found her son was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and had not deserved such treatment. But she said she doubted police had learnt anything from the tragedy. "I at least thought they should have been charged with something," she said.

Director of Public Prosecutions Tony Moynihan, SC, said he had carefully considered evidence that would be admissible in any trial. "There is no suggestion that the police officers were acting unlawfully or not in the execution of their duty in arresting Andrew Bornen, who was intoxicated and armed in public," he said in a statement.

"Given the momentary opportunity the police officers had to assess and act in this situation, the efforts made to alert the driver of the vehicle and the contribution of the driver of the vehicle which ran over and killed Mr Bornen, there is no reasonable prospect of a conviction."

A coroner's inquest found the female driver bore no responsibility for the death.

State Coroner Michael Barnes told the inquest in July he could not accept the evidence of then Senior Constable Anthony Brett and Senior Constable Robert Ward that Bornen, who was drunk, acted aggressively towards them, warranting him being handcuffed on the street.

He said the officers had made a "terrible error of judgment" in leaving the teenager lying there.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Stupid Federal cops cost the taxpayer big

MOHAMED Haneef has reportedly been awarded about $1 million in compensation after he was wrongly detained on terrorism related charges in 2007. Charges against the Indian born doctor were later dropped as prosecutors admitted bungling the case, and an independent inquiry cleared Dr Haneef of any wrongdoing.

Yesterday, Dr Haneef was awarded a substantial but confidential amount of compensation following negotiations with the Federal Government. Now it has been reported by the Times of India that amount could be as much as $1 million.

Kevin Andrews was the immigration minister at the time and last night said he had been advised defamation action against him had been dropped. He added that he'd made no apology, nor had any compensation been paid in relation to the action.

Today, Dr Haneef's lawyer, Rod Hodgson, declined to comment on Indian media reports that the settlement was about $1 million, the ABC reported. Mr Hodgson would only say the settlement was "substantial" and Dr Haneef was "delighted" with the deal.


Proposal to reform slack Qld. police disciplinary practices

A BLUEPRINT to dramatically change the way police discipline police has been released. Police watchdog the Crime and Misconduct Commission released its long-awaited report in the internal disciplinary process this morning. It has senior politicians, high-ranking police, bureaucrats and unions in a spin over whether they support the wide-ranging calls for reform.

The CMC made 11 recommendations to improve the disciplinary process which has been regularly attacked by rank-and-file officers as too long and confusing. It has also been attacked on several occasions as a mechanism to cover-up police brutality and mistakes against innocent citizens.

"Among the CMC’s recommendations is for the QPS to elevate complaints management to core business and, in doing so, ensure that its Ethical Standards Command (ESC), responsible for dealing with complaints against police, is adequately resourced," said CMC assistant commissioner of misconduct Warren Strange.

The thrust of many of the proposals is to quicken the whole disciplinary process from investigation to punishment, or acquittal.

If adopted by the State Government, legislation would be amended to force the Police Commissioner, currently Bob Atkinson, to report directly to the CMC on disciplinary investigations. It would also give the Commissioner powers to sack an officer is he loses confidence in his or her performance or conduct.

The CMC was scathing of the current police practice to suspend sanctions that it imposes on officers deemed guilty of misconduct. It called for sanctions to be enforced immediately, not suspended.

Policies would also be re-written to make the definition of "misconduct" consistent at all levels. It said a good disciplinary process was based on the principles of simplicity, effectiveness, transparency and strength.

Move-On Powers

The CMC also released a separate report calling for police on patrol to soften their approach to people in public places. "We have made 11 recommendations, including restricting the use of move-on powers to behaviour," said CMC deputy director of research Dr Rebecca Denning. "This means that the powers can no longer be used against a person for merely being present in a public space.

"The CMC’s review raises concerns about the lack of emphasis on the use of informal conflict resolution methods, such as persuasion and mediation. "The focus of police should be on ensuring the least punitive policing options are selected to match the conduct, with arrest the last resort," Dr Denning said.

The report suggested the homeless and indigenous people were more "at risk" of receiving a harsher interpretation of move-on powers than others. Move-on powers were introduced in 1997, but were not uniform across the state until 2006.


Queensland police officer to be re-tried for assault

A police officer who used capsicum spray on a man before repeatedly hitting him with his baton will be re-tried for assault.

The Court of Appeal in Brisbane this week sent Michael O'Sullivan's case back to the District Court for further hearing after a successful application by the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

Mr O'Sullivan was originally found guilty of common assault in late 2008, over the incident in Brisbane the previous year. The summary trial heard Mr O'Sullivan used capsicum spray on a man and then hit him three times with his baton. The force was deemed to be excessive.

Mr O'Sullivan was fined $700 but no conviction was recorded. He appealed against the verdict, and was awarded an acquittal.

However the CMC has now successfully fought to have the matter sent back for another trial.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A corrupt police watchdog in Victoria maligns an innocent man

The powerful Police Integrity Commission (PIC) has been exposed for inflating evidence, bias and schooling a key witness. In his harshest criticism of the organisation, the Inspector of the PIC, Peter Moss QC, said the commission had been unremittingly unfair and had blackened the reputation of former detective sergeant Brad Hosemans.

It is Mr Moss's 11th report in a row that has been scathing of the police force's own corruption watchdog.

Senior police were yesterday said to be furious at the behaviour of the PIC, whose head, Commissioner John Pritchard, announced last week he was quitting his post a year early.

Mr Moss said the PIC set up Operation Rani to inquire into the police investigation of the disappearance of Bathurst shop assistant Janine Vaughan in 2001 based on a "crude and derogatory" anonymous letter which implicated Mr Hosemans. Mr Moss said that, in its final report, the PIC did not acknowledge there was no evidence to support any claims made in that letter.

It also never clearly stated there was no credible evidence Mr Hosemans had ever met Ms Vaughan, 31, that he had ever spoken to her or had ever bought her flowers and that he had nothing to do with her disappearance after she left a Bathurst nightclub in December, 2001.

The only other evidence he was involved in the disappearance was a secret 47-year-old witness called RA1. The woman came forward more than four years after the incident to claim she had seen a distressed woman bound and in the passenger seat of a red hatchback being driven by Mr Hosemans.

She only gave evidence in private, without Mr Hosemans present, when Mr Moss said the presiding commissioner asked her questions to see how she would manage the answers if asked in an open hearing. "If we are not prepared for them [answers], we can't look after you and we don't get the job done," the presiding commissioner told her.

Mr Moss slammed the PIC for releasing the woman's claims in a media release even though they knew she was unreliable, for not allowing Mr Hosemans to answer the allegations and for changing claims in their report.

Mr Moss upheld all seven of Mr Hosemans' complaints. He now operates a water taxi on Sydney Harbour and said the inquiry had devastated him: "When you are so publicly humiliated, that never leaves you."


Monday, December 20, 2010

City bash victim ignored by Victoria police

A helpless man who was king-hit and bashed by a group of thugs in a sickening city attack said police refused his desperate pleas for help because they had "better things to do".

The man - who asked to be known only as John - said he was set upon by the three youths while he was on the way home from a Christmas party about 11.45pm on Saturday. He said he was king-hit after approaching the youths who he saw urinating in the entrance to a block of apartments on Little Bourke St. The attack has sparked renewed calls for a zero-tolerance crackdown on antisocial behaviour.

More than 200 people were arrested in Victoria over the weekend as part of a campaign against drunken violence.

John said he approached the men, believed to be teens, to ask them if they would urinate in the entrance to their own homes. "While I was talking to one of them the other two came at me ... I got a punch in the back of the head, one on the side of the head and then another one in the face," he said.

John, who suffered swelling to the head and neck, and a cut lip, said police arrived at after the youths had fled. "They said it was normal for these kinds of things to happen (and) said I was lucky that I wasn't knifed, and that I only walked away with a minor injury."

After being sent away John returned to the police after he again spotted the youths. "I told them they were just a block away ... but they really could not be bothered," he said. "A senior constable told me: 'p--s off, we have better things to do'."

A spokeswoman for Police Minister Peter Ryan said yesterday the minister would seek an explanation from police about the matter. Earlier in the day Mr Ryan told the media he wanted a zero tolerance approach to be applied to hoons and thugs.

Victoria Police would not comment yesterday, but said 243 people were arrested in Victoria in a special weekend operation. In Melbourne 108 people were arrested for drunkenness, 14 for assault and eight for drink-driving.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rogue cops in the Qld. police dog squad

Alarming that such cops had ANY contact with the public

POLICE dog handlers accused each other of stalking, assault, bullying and indecent exposure during years of turmoil and division. One officer was reported for emerging naked from a marked police car after a drinking session, and was accused of separately threatening to kill another handler's dog.

Internal documents reveal the problems facing the state's police dog handlers.

A report says an officer in charge of a drug detection dog spilled out of a police car "entirely naked" while on assignment in north Queensland in late-2007. "He walked the entire drive of the complex naked and which was approximately 100 metres long and at no time attempting to cover up his genitals," a sergeant reported.

Another colleague reported overhearing the officer discussing drink spiking and drugs at one of the local nightclubs earlier on the same night. "If you want to loosen women up, just drop a line of cocaine in their drink and you can do whatever you want . . . drop a few eccies and you will stay hard and up all night," the officer allegedly said.

Further allegations were made against the handler over alleged intimidation of the sergeant who reported his nude run, including a threat to kill her police dog.

There was uproar in the dog squad over plans to transfer the officer to a general police dogs position, with numerous handlers writing letters to oppose the move. "It stresses me that he is capable of carrying his firearm . . . after being on stress leave and making threats to kill persons and dogs," one senior constable wrote.

A separate sergeant claimed the officer had admitted driving past his house at night and shining a light through a bedroom window. An email from another officer says: "Past record illustrates that he responds to managerial guidance and discipline by making false allegations against the manager."

A police dogs training co-ordinator sent an official report in November 2008 highlighting concerns of officers about the handler, who is believed to have since left the service. He was not the only officer to face allegations.

The sergeant who reported his nude runs was accused of bullying by a number of officers and removed from the dog squad for more than a year.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Police pull gun on, arrest boy, 12

They should have seen immediately that it was a makeshift toy gun and departed at that point. There was NO reason to say a word to the kid, let alone assault him

POLICE pulled their guns on a 12-year-old boy playing in a yard in the Northern Territory because they thought he was hiding behind a fence with a rifle. The "weapon" was a broken 1m-long curtain pole with black duct tape, the Northern Territory News reports.

Tom had to be treated for shock at hospital as a result of the incident.

His mother Terry Mahoney said she was devastated. "He was just a normal kid playing with a fake rifle," she said. She said Tom had been playing with the toy weapon outside a house in Palmerston last week, when he was cornered by police.

At least five officers sped to the scene in two paddy wagons and a blue patrol car. They jumped out of their vehicles, two of them drawing their guns, and urged the boy to drop his weapon.

He was told to sit down on the footpath and then a police officer put a hand on his shoulder and pushed him down," Ms Mahoney said. "I believe he ended up with handcuffs on one wrist."

Police confirmed yesterday they had responded to a call saying a person was "hiding behind a fence" with a weapon. They said police guns were drawn but dropped instantly when it was clear there was no threat. Reports of the boy having been handcuffed were not confirmed.

The incident happened only days after the small family was made homeless. "It just means another trauma that Tom has to deal with," Ms Mahoney said.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Wrongful arrest of Indian doctor by bungling Australian federal cops leads to compensation claim

A DOCTOR wrongly accused of terrorism hopes to gain "practical recognition" of the suffering he went through during his incarceration.

Indian-born Dr Mohamed Haneef has returned to Australia with his wife and three-year-daughter for compensation talks with the Commonwealth on Monday and Tuesday.

The compensation claim stems from his wrongful detention by Australian Federal Police in July 2007.

Dr Haneef was held in custody for 12 days before being charged with recklessly giving support to a terrorist organisation when his mobile phone SIM card was linked to a terrorist attack in the UK the same year.

The charges were later dropped as prosecutors admitted bungling the case and an independent inquiry cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Dr Haneef, who was working at the Gold Coast Hospital when he was arrested, is seeking damages including for lost earnings, the damage to his reputation and the emotional stress he endured.

Dr Haneef, who now practises in the United Arab Emirates, said his career had been vastly interrupted by the ordeal.

"This mediation process is all about some practical recognition of how this has affected my family, of me, my reputation internationally and my career," he said in a statement before appearing at a press conference in Brisbane this morning.

"The ordeal has been terrible for me and my family and my career, which I was really enjoying at the Gold Coast Hospital."

His lawyer, Maurice Blackburn partner Rod Hodgson, would not reveal the size of the compensation sought.

But he said it was "significant" and reflected the "terrible injustice" done to him, including his wrongful imprisonment, terrorism charge, damage to reputation internationally and economic loss from the interruption to his medical career.

"We're hopeful that the outcome of the mediation will draw a line under what has been a very regrettable incident for Australia's long held reputation as a great place for skilled people from overseas to live and work," he said in a statement.

The mediation will be chaired by former judge Tony Fitzgerald QC.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

False facts used to charge man, West Australian cop admits

A detective has admitted he knew the facts used to charge Taser victim Kevin Spratt with obstructing police were false, but he did nothing to change them, an inquiry has been told. Detective Constable Brett Fowler today gave evidence to a Corruption and Crime Commission hearing into the alleged abuse of Mr Spratt, who was Tasered up to 41 times in seven days.

Detective Fowler was at the original police call-out in Bayswater on August 31, 2008, and handcuffed 41-year-old Mr Spratt. He was also present at certain points while he was Tasered 14 times at the East Perth Watch House later that day. He later wrote up the statement of material facts used by police to bring the charges including obstructing public officers against Mr Spratt.

The charge was one of four over which Mr Spratt faced court and for which he was sentenced to jail. The statement claimed Mr Spratt was acting violently before he was Tasered. "He again became violent and aggressive towards police who were attempting to restrain him by kicking and flailing his arms towards police as they approached him," it stated. "Taser was deployed to prevent any injury to the police or the accused..."

Detective Fowler agreed that the chain of events did not match with CCTV footage of the incident he was later shown, but said he did not know that when he prepared the statement. He said he wrote the document after consulting with other officers, including Sergeant Aaron Grant Strahan, who Tasered Mr Spratt 10 times. He said writing a statement upon consulting with officers was common practice.

He told Commissioner Len Roberts-Smith he did not recall confirming the events he was not present to witness. "You may have notes, but given how soon after we were preparing it I think it was done from what I was told from memory," Detective Fowler said.

Mr Spratt pleaded guilty on January 30, 2009, and earlier this week told the CCC he did so because he could not remember the incident and trusted the statement. He was sentenced to a cumulative jail term.

At a police internal investigation on September 25, 2008, Detective Fowler was shown the CCTV footage of the incident and said he later raised the discrepancies with officers. "It's stuck in my head that I remember asking about whether I needed to now go and amend it after seeing the footage," he said. "I was told to leave it as the inquiry was ongoing."

Earlier today Senior Constable Emanuel Bakovic, who was working in the East Perth Watch House that day, described Mr Spratt as violent and frightening. "In my nine years of policing, he was definitely the most violent aggressive detainee that I've ever come across," Bakovic said. "He was out of control, everybody was, well I'll speak for myself, I was scared due to his behaviour, due to his demeanour. 'It was a frightening experience, I've never seen anything like it."

Constable Bakovic can be seen on the CCTV footage of the incident backing away from Mr Spratt as he threw his earring towards the reception counter. "That's when I became extremely cautious because in my experience in the Watch House when people start doing that kind of action you've got to watch out for your own safety."


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Victoria Police bashing costs taxpayers millions

A 17-year legal battle over a violent police assault came to a close yesterday, leaving taxpayers with a multi-million dollar damages and costs bill. The Court of Appeal shaved almost $1.5 million off an award of $3.5 million given last July to brothers Donald and Marcus Walker, and the estate of their dead mother, Marcia.

Marcus Walker, a renowned academic who was not involved in the 1993 assault, but suffered a serious nervous breakdown after seeing his injured mother and brother, yesterday lost his damages award of more than $918,000.

Donald Walker, an insurance salesman, who was the victim of the police assault, had $400,000 in aggravated and exemplary damages reduced from his original award of $1.78 million. The $200,000 awarded to the estate of Marcia Walker, who was 67 at the time of the incident, remained intact.

It was just after midnight on August 14, 1993 when police constables Graeme Carter and Mark Sesin went to Donald Walker's Surrey Hills apartment. They had responded to a telephone calls about a domestic dispute between Mr Walker and his girlfriend.

A physical altercation followed between the police, Donald Walker and the disabled Marcia, who lived next door. She suffered a dislocated shoulder.

Donald Walker received baton blows and, while handcuffed and lying on the floor, was kneed by one of the officers. Mr Walker, who suffered serious bruising and two broken ribs, later pleaded guilty to hindering Constable Graeme Carter in the execution of his duty. Several other charges against him were struck out. So too were charges against Marcia Walker.

Constable Carter has since been investigated by the police ethical standards department.

In a decision handed down yesterday, the Court of Appeal disagreed with trial judge Tim Smith's finding that parts of the police officers' evidence had been "deliberately false" or "dishonestly given".

"In the event, though, it does not affect his Honour's key finding of fact, we consider that the evidence of Carter and (Constable Mark) Sesin should not be stigmatised in that way," the court found.

The appeal judges also found that the police officers were entitled to enter Donald Walker's unit believing a breach of the peace was taking place.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Documents reveal bullying, corruption, discrimination, in WA Police

No wonder they are deeply unpopular in their community

ONE in five police officers who quit the WA force in the past two years say they were bullied, while one in 10 saw improper, illegal or corrupt behaviour within the ranks.

Exit questionnaires obtained by The Sunday Times under Freedom of Information laws also revealed one in 10 departing officers and staff reported sexual or racial harassment or discrimination from their supervisors or colleagues. A third said the force was plagued by negative morale. And a quarter said it was difficult to balance the job with family obligations.

The documents, which included 125 exit questionnaires filled out by police who left the force in 2009 up to the end of September this year, also show nearly a third quit for better paying jobs.

One departing officer said he suffered "constant bullying on racist grounds" from his senior officer. The policeman said he had also seen corruption and knew of colleagues who carried out second jobs while at work and used police vehicles for private use.

Another officer wrote: "There have been many instances over the years I have seen things occur which have been corrupt and illegal."

A third departing officer said he had seen officers commit assaults, steal and breach traffic rules, while a fourth wrote he had seen "use of excessive force ... threats, intimidation, inducement".

The exit questionnaires also revealed:

* Almost 20 per cent of departing officers and staff said WA Police did not have a positive culture or healthy work environment.

* More than a third said the service's systems and processes were inefficient

* A quarter said it did not provide proper training and development

* One in five said pay was inadequate

* Almost 40 per cent said the service did not offer promotion and career development opportunities

* Sixteen per cent said they were unsatisfied with the job

* Thirteen per cent said they would never work for WA Police again.

Opposition police spokeswoman Margaret Quirk said the corruption, bullying and harassment figures suggest police aren't doing enough to eliminate these unsatisfactory practices. "The Police Minister will duck for cover and say these are operational matters. Certainly in all other workplaces these things are not only discouraged but active steps are taken to eliminate them," she said.

Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said every report of corruption or misconduct was investigated. But he said: "We need to be careful in concluding that a claim necessarily translates to an event. I notice only 12 officers (from 125 exit questionnaires) have claimed this is a concern."

Mr O'Callaghan said police were encouraged to report sexual harassment and discrimination, and while several cases had been lodged "none have been upheld by the Equal Opportunity Commission in the past two years.

"While we take exit interview information seriously, some officers leaving the agency make claims based on localised issues which cannot be extrapolated to mean the whole of the Western Australia police ... an officer's perception of morale is based on their experience in their immediate environment and cannot be representative of the whole of the force." "Notwithstanding, the exit interview provides sufficient demographic information for us to monitor trends and issues."

Police Minister Rob Johnson said: "In any workplace you will find some employees who are unhappy in their current environment for a number of reasons, particularly in an organisation as large as WA Police. "I understand that out of all of the exit surveys received by WA Police, only a small percentage of respondents expressed dissatisfaction with their time in the service.

"Policing is not an easy job and by no means a job for everyone. However, in my regular travels to police stations around the state, I've only received positive feedback from police officers, who acknowledge that while the job is challenging, they thoroughly enjoy carrying out the duties they perform to protect the community.

"As for the levels of remuneration, there will always be a better-paying job no matter what your profession is. Of course, I'd like to see police officers paid more, but there is a limit to what the state can afford and what is reasonable."

Not every officer who left the force completed an exit questionnaire, and The Sunday Times used only fully completed surveys to compile the figures.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Victoria's OPI does something useful

They sometimes catch the little fish

POLICE corruption busters have nabbed a homicide squad detective for allegedly leaking secrets to organised crime gangs in return for drugs. The detective senior constable was suspended this week.

His arrest followed an eight-month probe into his activities by the Office of Police Integrity. The detective had been under surveillance for months and was allegedly observed meeting organised crime figures. He allegedly provided confidential information in return for steroids. He is believed to have used some and sold others.

OPI investigators this week searched the homicide squad office in St Kilda Rd and removed material belonging to the detective. Officers from the Ethical Standards Department assisted in the search and the arrest. The case has sent shockwaves through the homicide squad.

OPI investigators are trying to discover if the alleged corrupt activities of the detective jeopardised any investigations. They are concerned about what the detective might have been expected to do in return for getting drugs.

The detective has allegedly been trading secret information to the criminals who allegedly supplied him with steroids. Apart from facing possible drug charges, he may also be charged under section 127a of the Police Regulation Act, which relates to unauthorised disclosure of information and documents, and which carries a maximum jail term of two years.

A Victoria Police spokesman yesterday confirmed an officer had been interviewed in relation to the release of information and drug-related matters. "No charges have been laid at this stage; however, the detective senior constable has been suspended with pay. This is an ongoing investigation, no further information will be released," he said.

An Australian Crime Commission report warned about increased steroid use, including by police officers. "Users are body-building and gym enthusiasts, members of the gay scene, people in occupations requiring physical prowess (security guards and police)," its Australian Illicit Drugs report said.


Friday, December 10, 2010

The charming wallopers of Western Australia

Obviously trained by the Gestapo

THE release of a 'chilling' second video of the Tasering of Kevin Spratt will trash Western Australia's reputation for treatment of Aboriginal prisoners, a state MP has declared.

The state's corruption watchdog is inquiring into whether any members of WA Police or the Department of Corrective Services engaged in misconduct during Mr Spratt's repeated Tasering while in custody.

The Tasering of Mr Spratt at the Perth Watch House on August 31, 2008 first came to light with the release of a report by the Corruption and Crime Commission into the use of Taser stun guns in WA. CCTV footage showed the unarmed and subdued man being Tasered 14 times while nine officers surrounded him.

Corruption and Crime Commission commissioner Len Roberts-Smith said the inquiry was triggered by the widespread media exposure, serious public concerns and revelations Mr Spratt had been repeatedly Tasered again a week later by emergency support group officers from Corrective Services.

The footage of that incident, which occurred on September 6, 2008, was shown for the first time today after the government had previously refused to make it public.

Seven heavily-protected prison officers wearing helmets and carrying batons are shown entering Mr Spratt's prison cell and yelling at Mr Spratt to turn around and lie down. "If you don't lay down, I'm going to Taser you. Turn around and lay down. That's it, I'm not going to ask you again. If I have to ask you again I'm going to Taser you," one officers shouts.

After an unarmed Mr Spratt apparently refuses, a prison officer Tasers him twice before he is then pinned face down on the floor.

The officers then demand Mr Spratt extend his arms straight out while an officer drives a Taser into his bare back and uses it nine times. During the ordeal Mr Spratt can be heard talking in native tongue and praying to God.

As the footage was played, Mr Spratt's fiancee, Tayunna Schatkowski, was unable to watch and broke down in tears.

In his opening address, counsel assisting, Peter Quinlan, said on the day after the Tasering by the prison officers, Mr Spratt was treated at Royal Perth Hospital. "Mr Spratt was diagnosed as suffering from at least one, and possibly other fractures of the ribs, a collapse of his lung, and his right shoulder was dislocated with a comminuted fracture of the humerus," he said.

"In addition Mr Spratt had multiple superficial cuts and abrasions including several puncture wounds consistent with the use of a Taser in probe mode."

Shadow attorney-general John Quigley said the conduct was disgraceful and would damage WA's reputation. "The violence was absolutely chilling. Tonight, WA's reputation in the way we treat Aboriginal prisoners will be trashed internationally," he told reporters outside the hearing. "This video depicts disgraceful violence against an Aboriginal prisoner in police custody."

CCTV footage released previously of the first incident in which Mr Spratt was Tasered showed him refusing a strip search by sitting on a bench and locking his arms onto the armrests.

"Senior Constable Troy Tomlin said 'Give us your hand or you're going to get f**king Tasered, do you understand? Now!' and within seconds deployed a Taser in drive stun mode against Mr Spratt," Mr Quinlan said, describing the footage to the hearing.

"Without warning Senior Constable Tomlin again deployed a Taser in drive stun mode. Sgt Aaron Strahan and Constable Geoffrey Toogood each grabbed one of Mr Spratt's legs."

SOURCE. Video at link.

'Untruthful' W.A. cops fired over Taser initiatiation ceremonies

'Untruthful' cops? How amazing!

POLICE Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan has sacked two officers who misled investigators during an inquiry into the improper use of Tasers stun guns on other officers at Rockingham Police Station. An internal investigation was launched after the conduct of the sergeant and the senior constable was reported to another senior officer.

The Commissioner said both officers under investigation were found to have improperly used Tasers against other members of staff on several occasions between October 2008 and May 2010. It was also found the officers had contributed to the formation of an unacceptable culture at Rockingham Station where junior staff felt unable to bring concerns to the attention of more senior police.

However, the primary reason for their removal, was their lack of integrity during the internal investigation process, Mr O'Callaghan said. “The final straw in this whole sorry saga was that neither of the two officers investigated told the truth to internal investigators when they were first required to,” he said. “They continued to deny the allegations and offered improbable explanations for their behaviour.”

Mr O’Callaghan said one of the officers was interviewed six times. “I have made it clear that I will not tolerate police officers being untruthful or evasive to internal investigators," he said. "It undermines the whole process of police integrity. “Police do not get to choose when they tell the truth and when they do not. “It is untenable that a sergeant and senior constable think it is acceptable to mislead investigators that I have appointed to act on my behalf.”

Mr O’Callaghan said the two officers were involved in several incidents where they Tasered other members of staff against their will. “While I was reviewing the file, it came to my notice that they had told lies to internal investigators – they had not told the truth, (and) they had left out critical pieces of information,” he said.

“I can’t tolerate police officers misleading investigators, not telling the truth or not telling the complete truth. That, for me, was the tipping point in making the decision about dismissing these officers from the WA Police.”

He said “a number of people” had been Tasered by the officers, who were in charge of junior officers and shifts at the station. One of the officers was a senior constable with 36 years’ experience.

“I think it’s a cultural thing – it was probably a bit of jocularity, but it is a misuse of the weapon, and we won’t tolerate that,” Mr O'Callaghan said. He admitted there had been a culture of Taser misuse at Rockingham Police Station and said the conduct of two junior officers had also been examined as part of the investigation.

The junior officers had retained their jobs after they were honest in the investigation, the Commissioner said.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Queensland police officer quits after using excessive force in teen arrest

Is it too much to hope that he will be prosecuted for assault?

A POLICE officer found to have used excessive force in the arrest of a 15-year-old boy was allowed to resign from the Queensland Police Service before the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal had a chance to sack him. Although the QPS normally requires three months notice from police, Sergeant Damien Chapman submitted his resignation last Thursday and was released at 4pm on Friday.

His departure came just five days before QCAT delivered its sanction after finding Chapman guilty of improper conduct and excessive force, in relation to the arrest of a boy at Clontarf north of Brisbane in May 2007. The 15-year-old who cannot be named, suffered a ruptured spleen as a result of a blow to his side during the arrest.

In a hearing yesterday, the tribunal heard Chapman's resignation was accepted by North Coast Assistant Commissioner Graham Rynders.

In an extraordinary coincidence, Mr Rynders is the brother of Deputy Commissioner Kathy Rynders who had previously found misconduct allegations against Chapman could not be substantiated.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission appealed the police ruling, claiming Chapman should have been dismissed for his conduct. Yesterday tribunal members James Thomas and Susan Booth ruled that had Chapman not resigned from the QPS he would have been dismissed for improper conduct and excessive force.

"The respondent's attempt to cover up his misconduct only aggravates the situation and reveals an attitude that is not acceptable in a serving officer," Mr Thomas said.

He also ordered a "disciplinary declaration" be made against Chapman, limiting his chances of future employment in the public service and security organisations.

A CMC spokeswoman said it was the first time a disciplinary declaration had been made by QCAT against a police officer. "The making of a disciplinary declaration against public sector officers including police, has only been possible since State Parliament passed relevant legislation in late 2009," said the spokeswoman.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Cowardly Victorian cop lets woman die

A police officer is facing disciplinary action for allegedly failing to intervene in a horrific attack in which a woman was stabbed and set alight at a petrol station in Melbourne's outer east earlier this year. The officer, who was off-duty at the time, is believed to have filmed the attack at a Bayswater service station on a mobile phone to use it as evidence against the woman's attacker instead of stepping in. The officer was not armed at the time of the attack.

The 42-year-old victim suffered horrific burns and died at The Alfred hospital on June 2, several hours after the attack.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman today said the officer would face a hearing next year for allegedly failing to provide assistance. "Victoria Police can confirm a police member is facing disciplinary action relating to the off-duty inaction to provide assistance at an incident in Bayswater earlier this year," the spokeswoman said.

She said she could not disclose whether the officer was male or female, the officer's rank or any further details about the incident, which was under investigation. The officer has not been suspended.

A 40-year-old man from Bayswater North has been charged with one count of murder over the woman's death.


Another report of the same incident

A POLICE officer will face internal charges for an alleged lack of action when a woman was stabbed and torched at an eastern suburbs service station. Victoria Police has confirmed the member, who was off-duty, was facing disciplinary procedures for alleged inaction at the incident at Bayswater on June 1.

Nicole Joy Read, 42, was stabbed and set alight at a service station on Mountain Highway in an attack which horrified Victorians.

The member is alleged to have not responded to the incident. Several civilians risked their own safety in attempts to help protect Ms Read and ward off her alleged attacker.

Ms Read's boyfriend David Hopkins, 40, has been charged with murder over her death.

Qld. cops who broke man's leg may cost taxpayers $200,000 in compensation

Utter thugs. Imagine the violence needed to break a man's leg. Perhaps worst of all, no word of any disciplinary action against the cops involved. They should be fired -- at a bare minimum

POLICE who broke a man's leg after he taunted them about not being able to park a car could end up costing taxpayers $200,000 in compensation. The leg of Martin Francis, 46, was badly broken in two places, he lost his job and was out of work for eight months after he was wrongfully arrested in August last year and jammed into a police vehicle outside a Mount Isa nightclub.

Mr Francis yesterday said his leg was "nearly snapped in half" in the tussle with three police, the Courier-Mail reported. Surgeons had to pin and screw his bones together during a recovery that took six months. "I was screaming in pain, telling them they had broken my leg," he said. "They told me to shut up, that it was a sore foot."

He said his leg was wedged between two seats and broke as he was dragged by the hair and shoved into a police car. "They were pumped up and looking for action and took their testosterone out on me. I deserve an apology," he said. Extra police were on duty in Mount Isa on the night in anticipation of trouble over the opening of a Rebels bikie gang clubhouse.

Mr Francis said his troubles began when he was smoking outside the Irish Club and criticised police about a poorly parked patrol car.

His lawyer, Kyle Barram, yesterday confirmed he was negotiating an out-of-court settlement with the Queensland Police Service after a magistrate threw out the case against Mr Francis last July. He ordered police to pay Mr Francis's costs. Mr Francis said his foot was still numb, he had trouble walking and struggled to do his tyre fitter's job.

In a damning judgment handed down on July 22, Mount Isa Magistrate Cathy Wadley dismissed all three charges against Mr Francis including disorderly behaviour, failing to leave a premise and obstructing police. She condemned the actions of the three police officers. She described them as "unreliable" and "inconsistent" in their evidence.

"It is obvious, on the evidence, that Mr Francis's leg was broken at the time of being placed into the police vehicle," she said in her judgment. "It is inconceivable that any man who has had his leg broken would not scream out in pain."

She said the officers had reacted to a comment. "This is a case where (they) should have resisted the sting of any insult," she said.

An internal police investigation has been ordered. The Queensland Police Service did not comment last night.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

W.A. Cops lose their favourite toy

But they can still tell lies. They get no punishment for that

Western Australia's police commissioner has announced a policy shift on Tasers, saying the stun guns should only be used when officers believe they are at risk of serious injury. The change follows recent publicity over incidents in which police were deemed to have overstepped the mark in their use of tasers.

Karl O'Callaghan says the WA Police Professional Standards Division will also review police use-of-force incidents captured on CCTV to determine if officers' accounts of incidents match the tapes.

The policy change comes after charges against a Perth family were dropped after CCTV footage undermined the police case against them. The footage shown in the Perth Magistrates Court on Monday showed no evidence Ryan Walker, 24, had punched a plain-clothes officer, as police had alleged. An assault charge against him was dropped as were obstruction charges against his parents, Ken and Raelene Walker, who had questioned officers over their handling of a melee outside a Perth nightclub on January 16. Ms Walker sustained a broken ankle as she was taken from the scene by officers. The family is seeking an apology from police.

WA Police were heavily criticised earlier this year after video footage was released of unarmed man Kevin Spratt being tasered 13 times in East Perth Watch House in 2008 with nine officers present.

Mr O'Callaghan on Wednesday told reporters the new trial policy on Taser use meant officers had to believe they were at risk of serious injury before deploying the weapons. That could include officers being attacked with a broken glass or some other type of weapon, he said. "We are moving forward but what we are doing is making sure all of our processes are correct, because questions have been asked and I don't want those questions to continue; I want to answer them."

WA Premier Colin Barnett has apologised to the Walker family but says he retains confidence in the state's police force. "These police men and women doing the day-to-day frontline work do need strong support and maybe do feel a little bit isolated at the moment, as there have been some situations that have gone wrong," he told reporters on Wednesday. "Some mistakes have been made ... and maybe it's time to look at whether they do need to have some extra training in dealing with difficult situations they encounter on a daily basis."

Former WA deputy police commissioner Murray Lampard said the tasering of Mr Spratt was indefensible and the obstruction charges laid against the Walker family showed young officers lacked training. Professor Lampard, who retired from the force in 2008, stressed the need for negotiation and communication skills training for young officers. He said they needed to be trained in the importance of "verbal judo", conflict resolution and negotiation.

"When you're dealing with people, the community has an expectation that the police will act responsibly and will act appropriately and basically keep their oath of office to preserve life," Prof Lampard told ABC Radio. "I think police need to, in certain circumstances, explore a number of options, to negotiate with people before deploying a weapon like a Taser."

Qld. cops told to monitor their language and refrain from calling offenders 'idiots' and 'stupid' etc.

POLICE are being chastised for calling alleged offenders idiots, despite state government road safety campaigns branding drink drivers "bloody idiots" and leadfoots as "stupid".

Two officers from the Brisbane West traffic branch have received "managerial guidance" for their language after traffic offenders complained. In one instance a woman who was not wearing a seatbelt was offended when an officer told her she was "an idiot". Another driver claimed police implied he was a liar when the officer said "I don't like people who lie to me" in relation to a traffic offence.

Senior Sergeant Laurence Rucker, who is seeking election to the Queensland Police Union, said he was also chastised for telling a motorist his excuse for flashing his headlights "was bull----". "The first officer who investigated said it was 'everyday Australian language' but the bosses upheld the complaint and I was ordered to undergo managerial guidance," Sen-Sgt Rucker said.

"Police have got to have a certain standard of conduct but it seems a bit much when government advertising campaigns are using terms like idiot and stupid to promote road safety. If I pull up a person and say `slow down, stupid' I'll be charged."

A Queensland Police Service spokesman confirmed complaints of incivility had been substantiated against officers, leaving them to subject to managerial guidance. “All police are bound by a code of conduct which includes treating all people with respect and dignity,” said the spokesman. “An officer calling someone stupid or an idiot could be classified as a breach of discipline.”

Sen-Sgt Rucker said police should be able to speak to drivers "in their own language". "I speak to them, the same way they talk to me," he said. "But some people get very upset about getting a lecture at the same time as getting a ticket."

In the year to June, 3011 complaints were made against police. Less than 4 per cent of complaints were substantiated.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dear Kathy under heavy fire

If the spotlight on her is bright enough, she might have the conspiring cops charged. Their behaviour was quite clearly grossly improper but with the coverup traditions in Qld., people are right be fear that justice will not be done

THE Crime and Misconduct Commission says only the Queensland Police Commissioner can resolve perceptions of bias in a high-profile police disciplinary review. Controversy still surrounds the appointment of Deputy Commissioner Kathy Rynders to discipline six officers who investigated the 2004 death in custody of Mulrunji Doomadgee.

Indigenous leaders from far north Queensland are calling for Ms Rynders to be removed, citing the fact she had previously given two of the officers bravery awards for actions during the ensuing Palm Island riots.

Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, was one to call for Ms Rynders' removal. "It's not only for the perception of justice, it's for the public to have confidence in the justice system," he said. Other indigenous leaders from far north Queensland and the lawyer for the Doomadgee family agree.

This afternoon, the CMC released a statement clarifying that only Commissioner Bob Atkinson can remove Ms Rynders. "Her appointment and the management of any perceived conflict of interest is the responsibility of the Police Commissioner," the statement read. "The CMC's role is to monitor the way the QPS progresses the disciplinary process."

But Police Minister Neil Roberts and high-ranking police have continued to stick by the embattled Deputy Commissioner. Earlier today, Mr Roberts said Ms Rynders was "of the highest integrity and professionalism". Mr Atkinson was unable to be contacted this afternoon.

The CMC has previously recommended the six officers face disciplinary action for their allegedly bungled handling of the investigation in to their colleagues.

Palm Island mayor Alf Lacey told The Courier-Mail this month the six "cannot be let off the hook". "Atkinson and the police hierarchy need to get their act together and discipline those six officers who protected their own and covered up this injustice,'' he said.

W.A.: Lying police thugs caught out again

WA POLICE say a comprehensive internal investigation will determine why officers did not identify weaknesses in their prosecution case after CCTV footage helped clear charges against three family members.

It comes as the Opposition called for an official inquiry into police conduct in WA after a series of embarrassing mishaps were exposed on CCTV footage.

WA Premier Colin Barnett has apologised to the Walker family for enduring a harrowing ordeal before police and the courts.

Acting Assistant Police Commissioner Gary Budge said police would conduct a review into why assault and obstruct public officer charges against Ken, Raelene and Ryan Walker were thrown out in a Perth court yesterday after video footage of the incident was shown. The January 16 incident, in which the family became involved in an argument with police outside a Perth nightclub, included Ryan Walker being Tasered by officers.

Mr Budge said the investigation would help uncover if any officers acted inappropriately after surveillance reportedly showed no evidence that an assault had occurred. “This matter certainly causes some concern,” he said. “When matters 10 months down the track are discontinued, we’ll certainly be looking at our procedures and our processes to determine why we didn’t identify earlier if there were weaknesses in this prosecution.”

Mr Budge said there was “a range of issues” that were taken into consideration in making the decision to discontinue the prosecution but he would not reveal them at this stage.

“The police officer who made an arrest that night was certainly of the belief that he’d been assaulted by the person that was charged,” he said. “We’ll determine whether the charges were appropriate at the time, we’ll determine the use of force that was used and whether that was appropriate, and we’ll determine whether there were any weaknesses in our processes leading up to the results in court yesterday.”

Mr Budge said police may issue an apology to the Walker family depending on the outcome of the investigation. “Until I’m aware of all the facts and data, then I’ll determine whether it’s appropriate to make that apology,” he said. “We’re not averse to making an apology if it’s appropriate to make one.”

He said compensation for legal fees was a matter for the courts to decide.

Ken Walker told ABC Radio today that his wife had been severely distressed and cried after seeing police taser their son, and the family was seeking an apology from police.

"The officers involved, they didn't handle the situation very well at all," he said. "They certainly didn't treat my family very well at all, and I think they are the ones that need to be brought to account for this," Mr Walker said. "We knew we'd done nothing wrong."

WA Premier Colin Barnett today said clearly there was a "massive discrepancy" between police officers' accounts and the CCTV footage and that was a matter for the police commissioner to investigate. "I apologise to the family concerned, I sincerely apologise. They should not have been put through that ordeal which they have," the Premier said.

Mr Barnett conceded that recent publicity over a 2008 case in which an unarmed Aboriginal man had been tasered 13 times in the Perth watchhouse had damaged the public's confidence in the police. That had contributed to the government losing a recent parliamentary vote to introduce tougher stop-and-search laws for police, he said.

"If you give police extra powers there's always the risk, by expanding their powers, there's more opportunity for misuse or incorrect use of those powers. "But I will always be on the side of our police and maintaining law and order."

Opposition shadow attorney-general John Quigley said the Walker case highlighted the need to install cameras on Tasers, but he said Police Minister Rob Johnson continued to oppose them "to cover up what's going on".

Acting Assistant Police Commissioner Budge said he did not think the officers concerned acted out of malice. "We accept that we do get it wrong at times, but most of the time we get it right," Mr Budge said. [How reassuring!]