Friday, February 17, 2017

More trouble for Gold Coast police

ONE of the police officers accused of snooping at the personal file of a former bikini model has previously been convicted of the bashing of an elderly homeless man in Brisbane.

Former model-turned justice crusader Renee Eaves last month launched a lawsuit with the District Court of Queensland, amid allegations her personal QPRIME file was accessed 1400 times.

Police officers are only allowed to access the files during the course of work and some have faced disciplinary action or even criminal charges for unauthorised access.

In the lawsuit, Ms Eaves names five individual officers, including Constable Benjamin Arndt, who was convicted over the 2006 bashing of Brisbane homeless man Bruce Rowe.

Constable Arndt, who had originally been cleared of any wrongdoing by an internal affairs investigation, was eventually fined $1000 over the assault and lost a subsequent appeal.

Ms Eaves, whose own criminal history contains little more than the odd traffic offence, says she has been forced to move house amid fears hundreds of Queensland police officers had accessed her personal information, including her home address.

She is seeking $400,000 in damages.

<a href="">SOURCE</a>

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Ballarat police officers charged with assault over kicking of drunken colleague

<i>This appears to be the tip of the iceberg at Ballarat.  There have been other accusations of police thuggery there</i>

Two police officers have been charged with assault and stood down from operational duties after a damning IBAC report into an alleged excessive use of force at Ballarat police station.

A drunk off-duty colleague was allegedly stripped, kicked and stomped-on in custody, an Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission report revealed last year.

An IBAC hearing into police conduct in Ballarat has been shown CCTV footage of the abuse of a female police officer arrested for drunkenness.

Footage shows her drinking from the toilet, allegedly after the officers refused to give her water.

When it released its report in November last year IBAC recommended  police consider whether assault charges should be laid in relation to the incident.

A female leading senior constable has been charged with one count of assault and a male senior constable with two counts of assault, Victoria Police said in a statement released on Thursday.

Both officers are from the Western region.

The charges relate to an alleged assault that occurred at Ballarat police station in January 2015. The members have been transferred to non-operational duties, Victoria Police's statement said.

In November, IBAC released a report into allegations of excessive use of force by several people at Ballarat police station.

A serving police officer, Yvonne Berry, was arrested before allegedly being stood on and kicked inside the station's cells.

"IBAC's Operation Ross exposed the concerning casual disregard and at times alarming mistreatment of a vulnerable woman in Ballarat police custody that was captured on CCTV," IBAC Commissioner Stephen O'Bryan QC said when the report was released.

"Importantly, Operation Ross also revealed broader systemic issues and missed opportunities by Victoria Police to address similar patterns of conduct at the station."

Both police officers will appear in Ballarat Magistrates Court on March 6.

<a href="">SOURCE</a>

Sunday, February 12, 2017

An outback Queensland police officer has avoided a conviction for pulling a gun on a speeding motorist while he was suffering from PTSD

Senior Constable Stephen Flanagan was on Friday fined $1500 for assaulting motorist Lee Povey outside Longreach in May 2015.

Flanagan was captured on dash-cam video screaming "f***ing pull over now, c***" and drew his gun on Mr Povey as he threatened to "put a f***ing hole in you".

The 46-year-old officer was in December 2016 found guilty of common assault and deprivation of liberty by Brisbane Magistrate Paul Kluck.

Mr Kluck found Flanagan was motivated by his condition and anger rather than a belief that Mr Povey had a gun or that the car was stolen.

But the court heard on Friday it was not uncommon for people with post-traumatic stress disorder to be unaware they have the condition or the extremity of their reactions.

Prosecutor Jodie Wooldridge said Flanagan's behaviour had a "significant" impact on Mr Povey, who feared his complaint about a gun-wielding police officer would not be taken seriously. "It was an abuse of trust that had been placed in him by the Queensland police service and the community," Ms Wooldridge said.

Barrister Stephen Zillman said Flanagan, who has been a police officer since he was 19, would find himself on the "employment scrapheap" if he lost his job over the incident. "That's been his life," Mr Zillman said.

Mr Kluck said he would not record a conviction but it was up to the police disciplinary board if Flanagan kept his job.

Flanagan is appealing the guilty finding.

<a href="">SOURCE</a>

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Former Melbourne detective lifts lid on culture of fear inside Victoria Police

A FORMER senior police officer believes a culture of fear within the force is creating "horrible and tragic" outcomes because officers only act "when their hand is forced".

The former cop, who served for 20 years in Victoria Police, said he didn't blame frontline police for not taking action in some circumstances because they were lashed by the public when things went wrong.

Police tactics - in particular around the pursuit of vehicles - has been hotly debated since Dimitrious `Jimmy' Gargasoulas, 26, allegedly killed five people on January 20 by running them down in a car in Melbourne's CBD. Police had been trying to capture him for 16 hours before the deaths in Bourke St Mall.

Much of the dismay has been directed at why the accused driver wasn't boxed in or forced from the road before he arrived in the city centre. The police union has claimed senior officers twice refused permission to ram Gargasoulas.

"The police are not really to blame for their failure to take action. It is the hierarchy and community that has created a police force that is afraid of negative consequences and punishment if they make the wrong call - so situations are allowed to escalate to a point where their hand is forced, so to speak," the former cop said.

He drew parallels with the hostage crisis in Sydney's Martin Place in December 2014.

"A similar case was the Lindt cafe in Sydney where once again the police took no action until a hostage had been shot," he said. "You only have to look at what is said about police every time there is a shooting."

The officer, who asked not to be identified, told the "horrible and tragic outcomes" happened because "our police" were too afraid to take action.

"There needs to be greater community discussion about what we expect from our police. Night courts have been tried before and didn't help, we have police in armoured trucks and dressed like soldiers already and that cannot be the answer if the police feel powerless to act until a person has died."

The former Melbourne detective said risk aversion was nothing new and really began to creep in during the 1990s when Project Beacon was introduced. The aim of Project Beacon was to retrain all Victoria Police officers in alternatives to firing their guns, where protection of human life was the number one priority. It was brought about because of a rising number of fatal police shootings.

Under the "Safety First Philosophy" the success of an operation was primarily judged on the extent to which the use of force is avoided or minimised, according to a report by the Victorian police watchdog the Office of Public Integrity.

"It really started way back then. In response to the outcry over the police shootings, frontline police were trained to stand back and wait... basically do nothing until reinforcements and specially trained police arrived. That culture against risk really started more than 20 years ago and is ingrained throughout the force.

"It's very difficult on frontline police who see what needs to be done but are stopped from doing so in case all the armchair experts whack them for making the wrong call."

Deputy Victoria Police Commissioner Andrew Crisp told media on Wednesday there had to be a balance between protecting the community and its members and officers would not pursue offenders driving on the wrong side of the road or at high speed.

He said real-life pursuits are not like they are in the movie Lethal Weapon where, when cars are shot at, the driver dies and the car stops immediately.

"It's extremely difficult to shoot at a moving vehicle. It's even more difficult to hit a tyre ... the vehicle will not stop, it will travel forward," he told reporters.

"There's every likelihood we might miss the vehicle and who knows where that round or those rounds might go."

He denied Victoria Police was soft on crime. "We are not a risk averse organisation. We attend critical incidents day in and day out and we resolve those incidents. If you want to talk about being risk averse then I will talk about safety, and it is critical our members go home every day."

He was "extremely disappointed" an email he sent to members last September was reported this week in the media as a "directive". In fact, he said, it was a "safety message" following an increase in offenders ramming police vehicles.

The email told officers not to shoot at or intercept stolen or suspect cars. "Plan your approach and response when intercepting a stolen or suspect vehicle - time is on your side," the email read, as published by the Herald Sun on Wednesday.

Victoria's police union said there is "burning anger" among officers in the wake of the Bourke Street rampage over policies they believe prevent them from intercepting "drug-crazed lunatics".

"Our members' views around the current pursuit policy range from great disappointment to burning anger," Police Association of Victoria assistant secretary Bruce McKenzie said.

"The current pursuit policy handcuffs them considerably when it ought to be our members who are handcuffing the drug-crazed lunatics that seem to be appearing on our streets."

<a href="">SOURCE</a>