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!]


Monday, November 29, 2010

NSW police investigation of cruise ship death 'amateur'

THE initial police response to the cruise ship death of Dianne Brimble was amateur and unprofessional, an inquest has heard. Mark Brimble said his former wife's death was investigated by NSW Water Police, who were "not equipped" to handle the investigation.

He said investigators "had no experience in homicide investigations", even failing to take sufficient tapes for interviews and perform background checks on persons of interest.

Ms Brimble, 42, died on board a P&O cruise ship in September 2002 after consuming a toxic mix of alcohol and the drug fantasy.

In the final day of the inquest into Ms Brimble's death, Mr Brimble told the inquest his family believed NSW Police had failed to communicate with them and conduct the investigation in an acceptable manner.

In a moving submission, Mr Brimble told Balmain local court in Sydney's inner west that he felt like Michael Caton from iconic Australian movie The Castle. "I stand here just like any other Australian citizen... Prepared to fight for what's right," he told coroner Jacqueline Milledge. "All we're looking for is the truth... It seems the facts have been hindered along the way", he said.

As vice president of the Australian arm of the International Cruise Victims organisation, Mr Brimble called for greater security and an internationally recognised police presence to be aboard all cruise ships. "Cruise ships are like floating cities... and the key thing missing is a police force," he said.

Three men were charged over Ms Brimble's death, including Mark Wilhelm, in whose cabin her naked body was found and with whom she had sex. Earlier this year, Wilhelm was convicted of supplying the drug fantasy after a manslaughter charge was dropped.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Railroaded pilot seeks $45 million from Australian Government for wrongful conviction over alleged child sex offences

The incompetent and crooked Australian Federal Police again. This has long been a notorious case. The fact that the original conviction was comprehensively thrown out should mean he will get his money

An Australian pilot who spent almost 1000 days in prison after being wrongfully convicted of child sex offences will this week launch a $45 million lawsuit against the Australian government. The statement of claim by Fred Martens against the Commonwealth alleges Australian Federal Police withheld and removed evidence which they knew cleared him of the allegations.

Mr Martens' legal team expects to lodge the document in the Queensland Supreme Court in Cairns on Monday or Tuesday.

Mr Martens was jailed in 2006 for the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl in Port Moresby. Queensland's Court of Appeal quashed the conviction in 2009 after Mr Martens' family was able to obtain flight records which proved Mr Martens was not in Port Moresby at the time of the offence.

The statement of claim alleges AFP officers deliberately concealed the existence of the aviation records at Mr Martens' court hearings, despite them being readily available from PNG authorities.

It alleges the AFP was more concerned with successfully prosecuting Mr Martens than investigating the facts of the case. "The defendants failed to investigate the matter to find the truth but instead endeavoured to amass evidence to bolster a case against the plaintiff regardless of its truth or falsity," the document alleges.

Mr Martens said because his passport had been confiscated and his funds frozen while he was awaiting trial in Australia, he was not able to fly to PNG to prepare his own defence. He said a magistrate had ordered the AFP to investigate any leads raised by his legal team but the statement of claim alleges officers failed to do so.

"Had the defendants carried out competent and honest investigations the results of such investigations would have demonstrated that not only did the plaintiff not commit any offence against (the alleged victim) but that he could not have done so as alleged."

Mr Martens is claiming $45 million in losses, including for the death of his infant daughter Stephanie who died in PNG of malaria because he was unable to provide funds to care for her. The statement of claim also alleges that a number of Mr Martens' PNG businesses, which included the nation's Royal Flying Doctor Service, were lost or collapsed because he was not there to run them.

It also states he lost several large properties because he was not there to secure them. Mr Martens said the properties had since been taken over by settlers and removing them would result in violent confrontations.

The Australian government will have 28 days to respond to the statement of claim.


Honest cop on the outer in Victoria

To be expected in what is probably the crookedest force in the country

A "COLD war" has broken out between Victoria Police's two most senior officers. Chief Commissioner Simon Overland and Deputy Commissioner Sir Ken Jones are said to be barely speaking following a clash of personalities.

In an official statement, a Victoria Police spokeswoman described their relationship as "robust". "Deputy Commissioner Sir Ken Jones and Chief Commissioner Simon Overland have a robust relationship," the spokeswoman said. "At times they do disagree on things, however both work effectively and professionally together."

The statement was released after a senior Victoria Police source revealed the rift to the Sunday Herald Sun. "They basically don't talk any more. "Ken's had a word with Simon about a few issues and Simon's basically cut him off as a result," the source, who is close to both men, said.

The collapse in relations between the state's two most senior lawmen follows a series of disagreements between the two over the direction of the force.

Insiders say Sir Ken - who was widely regarded as the natural successor for the chief commissioner's role - is unhappy enough to leave and continue his career outside Victoria. They said he remained in the role in case the Liberal Party, which despite public utterances is unlikely to support Mr Overland, takes power after yesterday's close election. A Brumby Government victory may mean Sir Ken could move to another job within months, the sources said.

Sir Ken is believed to have been disappointed he has had to share the "acting Chief Commissioner" role when Mr Overland is away with fellow Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe.

He has differed with Mr Overland on a number of issues, including the influence Spring St has on the force. "The minute policing becomes political, the public loses confidence in it," he said. The Welsh-born policeman is also regarded as being in greater favour of transparency and an independent force executive in which sworn officers, not public servants, are in the majority.

He also broke ranks on proposed changed arrest rules which Mr Overland said would not change the position at law. But Sir Ken was concerned the new policy "unwittingly constrains the power of arrest".

"They have had a difference of opinion on a number of issues," a source said. "And Simon has decided the best way to deal with (Sir Ken) is to isolate him."

Sir Ken was knighted in the UK in 2008 for his services to police. He also served for several years in Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption before starting with Victoria Police in July 2009.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Queensland Police cleared officer who was later found guilty of using excessive force

Finding a fellow cop guilty of anything is an Everest climb for them -- and they rarely get to the top

QUEENSLAND Police Service has received another stinging rebuke on its internal investigations after it cleared an officer that has since been found guilty of using "excessive force" on a teenager during a violent arrest.

In the wake of criticisms by the Crime and Misconduct Commission, Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal accused the force of having unsatisfactory and archaic procedures when dealing with its own, saying that Sergeant Damien Chapman was "not authorised justified or excused by law" when he struck 15 year-old Graham McCormac of Clontarf in Brisbane's north - who was then hospitalised with a ruptured spleen.

QCAT said the investigation was "a relic of earlier armed service orderly room procedure". "It may be satisfactory for dealing with minor disciplinary infringements, but it leaves much to be desired in more serious matter like the present," QCAT documents said.

"In the original proceeding before Deputy Commissioner (Kathy) Rynders there was no prosecutor, and no witnesses were seen or heard. "The material was assembled by an investigator with power to require member of the police service to answer his questions; that material was sent to his superiors and in due course Sergeant Chapman was directed to appear before Deputy-Commissioner Rynders, which he did with counsel."

Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson refused to comment on QPS's handling of the matter.

It's the second time QPS had been overruled by QCAT in as many months, after doubling the penalty for a Sunshine Coast senior constable who had a party in the police station with people of "questionable" backgrounds.

A police spokeswoman said in a statement that the findings were noted and that it would be "inappropriate to comment further at this stage" as the matter has been adjourned to early December, where sanctions would be determined.

Crime and Misconduct Commission chairman Martin Moynihan told Police Minister Neil Roberts that QPS had a problem with "inadequate supervision and intervention in the context of operational policing".

The Chapman case was one of four referred to QCAT by the CMC in the past year.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Killer cop faces probe into $100,000 compensation claim

FORMER Palm Island policeman Chris Hurley is still facing a probe into whether he dishonestly claimed $100,000 in compensation over riots in the aftermath of the Mulrunji death in custody.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission has ruled insufficient evidence to pursue allegations of assault, lying and collusion against the now Gold Coast based senior-sergeant.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Brian Hine in his findings of the third inquest into the 2004 Palm Island death in custody recommended in May the CMC investigate the allegations and potential for any new charges.

Six years on, the police officer acquitted of the manslaughter of Cameron Doomadgee and cleared of the latest inquiry into alleged assault and collusion is still under investigation for alleged insurance fraud.

Prominent criminal barrister Jeff Hunter, SC, is likely to brief the new Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions in coming weeks on whether to pursue criminal insurance fraud charges against Sen-Sgt Hurley.

Mr Hunter was asked to investigate whether Sen-Sgt Hurley sought to profit by making three compensation claims after rioters burnt down his house and police station three days after Doomadgee was found dead on the floor of a Palm Island jail cell.

The Aboriginal father-of-one, known as Mulrunji, died on November 19, 2004, after a watchhouse scuffle with Sen-Sgt Hurley. He had broken ribs, a ruptured portal vein and his liver was cleaved almost in two after what Sen-Sgt Hurley described as a tussle and complicated fall. Sen-Sgt Hurley did not return calls on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, six police officers who investigated the Palm Island death and were recommended by the CMC for disciplinary action after the alleged whitewash of police investigating police are still waiting in limbo. "Entire lives and careers are on hold," said one of the officers, who asked not to be named.

Former Deputy Commissioner Kathy Rynders is heading the inquiry into what disciplinary action the six officers should face after the damning findings of the CMC's Palm Island report.

Palm Island mayor Alf Lacey said the six officers "cannot be let off the hook". "They can try to close their book but the wider community will not shut the book on this ugly chapter," he said. "(Police Commissioner) Bob 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." [Dear Kathy will let them off lightly. Never fear]


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Crooked Qld cops off the hook

Watchdog says there will be no new charges over Doomadgee Palm Island death

NO new charges will be laid against officers involved in the Palm Island death in custody, said the Crime and Misconduct Commission yesterday.

The CMC was responding to allegations made by Deputy Chief Magistrate Brian Hine at his coronial inquest in May, the third into the 2004 death of Cameron Doomadgee in a Palm Island watchhouse.

The allegations included assault, collusion and lies by the officers involved in the case, including Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley, who originally arrested Doomadgee and was later acquitted of his manslaughter.

"The CMC considers that insufficient evidence exists to support criminal or disciplinary proceedings in relation to any of the allegations," a spokeswoman for the CMC said. [There's plenty of evidence. It should be for a jury to decide]


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Elite cops or Keystone Kops?

An alarming performance for people trusted with the State's most onerous and demanding duties -- and we won't mention naked "streaking" through the streets either. They're just cowboys high on testosterone -- very dangerous people

QUEENSLAND'S most highly trained police unit lost a high-powered rifle during a training session and narrowly avoided charges by Customs after importing weapons parts without the necessary permits.

The Special Emergency Response Team lost a semi-automatic rifle overboard during a counter-terrorism exercise in Moreton Bay in May, documents released under Right to Information revealed. Despite six police divers searching the area for 39 hours, the weapon _ which was unarmed and inoperable _ could not be found.

Police were satisfied the gun would remain on the seabed rather than get washed ashore, due to its weight and design. They also were confident it would corrode quickly. However, Assistant Commissioner Brett Pointing said training exercises by divers and Water Police had been planned for the same area. "The dive squad will continue to search and dive in this area well into the future," he said in an executive briefing.

In another embarrassment for the elite unit, Customs intervened when three restricted weapons parts arrived in Australia from the US addressed to Queensland police in November 2008. SERT armourers ordered the items from the US to save money but they failed to get the necessary import permits.

Although an investigation found the armourers "acted under an honest and reasonable but mistaken belief in relation to the imported parts", the items were destroyed by Customs and had to be re-ordered.

Geoff Jones, of the Sporting Shooters Association, said the Customs incident highlighted the "paranoia" that existed in relation to guns. "We've got everyone spinning out and frightened of the dark. It's almost laughable now," said Mr Jones.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

320 criminal offences by NSW police

MORE than 100 police officers have been charged with 320 criminal offences over the past two years, ranging from drug dealing to aggravated sexual assault, drink-driving and unlawfully altering official records, NSW Police data obtained by the Herald show.

The most common charges against 117 officers arrested during the financial years 2008-09 and 2009-10 were for assault and drink-driving, the figures show. Assault made up 27 per cent of the main charges. Driving offences, mostly drink-driving, were second with 18 per cent.

The data, obtained by the Herald under the NSW Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009, only shows the 117 main charges for each officer and does not include secondary charges.

Over the past month alone, a further six officers have been charged with 17 offences, including one who allegedly deleted official records after allegedly failing to investigate two incidents, including a car crash.

Another officer, Probationary Constable Peter Giallombardo, 31, attached to the south-west metropolitan region, is due to face court tomorrow. He is charged with four offences in relation to a seriously disabled woman including aggravated sexual assault and sexual intercourse without consent. Mr Giallombardo has yet to enter a plea. On his social networking page on Netlog, where his nickname is AlfieWog19, Mr Giallombardo says he is "easy going and like [sic] to joke around and have fun". He has been stood down from the force.

Another male officer is due to face court this month charged with four counts of aggravated sexual assault of a woman in Newcastle in March.

Two others were charged over drug offences this month, including a senior constable attached to the central metropolitan region who is facing three counts of supplying a prohibited drug. He was allegedly already suspended from duty and facing court on other criminal matters.

Two weeks ago a former officer, Glen Campbell, was jailed for 17 months and banned from driving for 10 years after recording a blood-alcohol reading almost eight times the legal limit (.395). In November he drove into a shopping centre car park, hit another vehicle and collapsed face-first on to the concrete, still wearing his police overalls. On his way to Gosford Local Court in June he was pulled over again and recorded .253.

Jennifer Louise Edgerton was fined $1000 last month and disqualified from driving for one year after recording four times the legal limit (.203) after crashing her car on the central coast.

There are 25 high-range and 47 mid-range driver offenders serving in the NSW Police Force, the Industrial Relations Commission was told this year during the case of a former long-serving officer, Robert McGhee, who unsuccessfully sought reinstatement after being sacked for drink-driving and other breaches.

Twenty-five police officers were "removed" from the force in 2009-10 and four more resigned as a result of disciplinary procedures, the NSW Ombudsman's 2009-10 annual report says.

The Police Minister, Michael Daley, said the "vast majority" of officers were "honest, loyal and upstanding" men and women. "Unfortunately there have been some instances of officers who have abused their position and broken the law," he said. "No police officer is above the law, and if any officer breaks the law they will face the full consequences of their actions."

Scott Weber, president of the Police Association of NSW, said officers were "human and occasionally make mistakes". He said there was an inflated number of officers prosecuted because the Director of Public Prosecutions was required to hold them to a higher standard than the public.

"With that in mind, the relatively low number of charges laid against the state's 15,500 police officers are a credit to the force." [Not counting the one who get away without being charged, of course]

Thug W.A. cops finally under scrutiny

THE Corruption and Crime Commission has taken over investigations by Police and the Department of Corrective Services into the repeated use of Tasers on Watch House inmate Kevin Spratt.

Commissioner Len Roberts-Smith QC said the Commission had issued a direction for the Police and the Department of Corrective Services to stop any active investigations they may be undertaking.

However, Police will continue to assist the DPP in his consideration of whether to charge the police officers involved in the use of Taser weapons in the watch-house on August 31, 2008.

Mr Roberts-Smith said the Commission’s investigation will focus initially on determining the circumstances surrounding five separate incidents involving Mr Spratt and the use of Taser weapons. These incidents are:

* Police threatening Mr Spratt with Taser weapons on the day before the watchhouse incident (30 August 2008);

* The police use of Taser weapons against Mr Spratt in the watch-house (31 August 2008);

* Police use of Taser weapons when arresting Mr Spratt (6 September 2008);

* Police use of Taser weapons on Mr Spratt in the watch-house (6 September 2008), and

* Department of Corrective Services staff use of Taser weapons to remove Mr Spratt from a watch-house cell (6 September 2008).

Mr Roberts-Smith said the Commission’s investigation will also look at the conduct of any internal investigations. “There is a high level of public interest in the circumstances surrounding these incidents and the investigations into them,'' Mr Roberts-Smith said. “It is in everyone’s interest that these matters are investigated thoroughly and that the outcome be placed on the public record. “At this stage it has not been determined how the result of the Commission’s investigation will be made public,” he said. [Coverup coming?]

Victoria police finally has to admit fault

But they spent a lot of taxpayers' money trying to avoid doing so. It tells you a lot about their dishonest mentality. Note also their policy of not prosecuting Muslims. They are a parody of a police force

VICTORIA Police spent almost $300,000 of taxpayers' money on a failed attempt to beat an officer's complaint that he was called a "f---ing wog" by a superior.

Former senior sergeant Mario Benedetti, who last month won a bravery award for running into a burning house to save a sleeping couple, secretly taped the insults in 2008.

He said he would not have taken the matter further had he not been called a "wog" during a meeting with fellow officers. Mr Benedetti said even after he decided to take action, it could have been ended with an apology, averting the expensive 12-month legal stoush. "It's absurd that they spent that sort of money," he said.

Documents obtained by the Herald Sun under Freedom of Information show how police command continued to write big cheques before giving up and settling with Mr Benedetti, who quit the force earlier this year.

At the height of its spending, Victoria Police coughed up $85,000 in one month to defend four members against Mr Benedetti's claims there was a "sustained and systematic campaign to subject me to detriment on the basis of race, impairment, industrial activity and employment activity". Last November, police command told the Herald Sun it rejected Mr Benedetti's complaint and the allegations would be defended.

It was not the first time Mr Benedetti - the former officer-in-charge at Moonee Ponds police station - had stood up to top brass. In November 2008, he spoke out in anger after charges he laid against members of an out-of-control mob were quietly dropped, without consultation. He said at the time he suspected the charges might have been dumped because the youths set to face court were of north African descent. He said he was later investigated for speaking out.

Mr Benedetti was last month awarded the Royal Humane Society's highest honour for risking his life while off duty at a fire in Preston.

Police Association secretary Sen-Sgt Greg Davies said it was a shame the matter was allowed to drag on to such an expensive conclusion. "If you're going to settle something, it's good sense to do so before the matter runs out of control," he said.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said the force "recognises that litigation is expensive and can take time" and did everything it could to avoid that process. [Really???]


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Senior Queensland police officers should get back on the beat, says report

QUEENSLAND'S top police have been told to get out from behind the comfort of their desks and back on the beat with front-line officers. A confidential report handed to Queensland's senior officers says everyone from the commissioner down should be leading by example and joining crews on patrols.

The commissioner would only do a shift a year, but inspectors, superintendents and other senior officers would sign up for a shift a month on the front line.

The report, obtained by The Sunday Mail under Right to Information laws, was handed to Commissioner Bob Atkinson at the height of the Operation Tesco corruption debate earlier this year. It says regularly putting senior officers with junior police would stop the "slippery slope" to corruption and abuse of power.

The report team, which included former ethical standards command boss and now Central Region Assistant Commissioner Alan Davey, said police chiefs need to "walk the talk" for their juniors. "It is recommended that non-commissioned officers undertake more general duties and patrols, particularly at night, to provide judgment and leadership to junior officers," the report said.

Mr Davey said his region's senior officers were already hitting the beat, with inspectors and superintendents spending more time with front-line police, particularly on late-night shifts beyond their traditional office hours. The former ethical standards commander said young officers appreciated having "wiser heads" around.

Already adopted from the report is a hit list of indicators of possible corruption, including sloppy dressing, tardiness and excessive drinking, which police managers in the state's Central Region have been told to look out for.

Corrupt police are made, not born, the report says, warning that serious corruption starts with small infringements such as free drinks that, unchecked, can grow into major crimes such as drug dealing.

Another report, the CMC's annual survey of police ethics released this week, found a growing trend among recruits not to report their colleagues for corrupt behaviour such as excessive force to move a person on or doing registration checks to get the address of a good-looking woman.

The CMC said Queensland police are more ethical than they were 15 years ago, with the majority viewing improper behaviour as serious and inexcusable and a growing number of police willing to report matters to senior officers.


Police used confiscated booze to stock social club fridges - claim

BOOZE confiscated from the public has allegedly been used to stock police social club fridges.

In another blow to the integrity of the Queensland Police Service, the crime watchdog has again launched a corruption investigation into police based at a station south of Brisbane.

It is understood the Crime and Misconduct Commission was already monitoring the behaviour of some of the officers at the centre of the new inquiry, and had collected information by phone tapping. Police referred inquiries to the CMC, which refused to comment yesterday.

Only two months ago Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson announced measures to provide greater levels of accountability at the Gold Coast. It was sparked after the CMC launched the covert Operation Tesco, an 18-month investigation into the behaviour of police allegedly taking drugs and accepting free drinks at nightclubs.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Crime and Misconduct Commission calls for Qld. police commissioner to be more accountable

THE Crime and Misconduct Commission has insisted Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson's new contract make him accountable for officer bad behaviour after claiming the force was unwilling and reluctant to fix problems.

In a confidential letter to Police Minister Neil Roberts about Mr Atkinson's reappointment, CMC chairman Martin Moynihan said investigations showed "inadequate supervision and intervention in the context of operational policing" and "continued unwillingness ... to counter unauthorised access of the police computer system".

Several allegations of system abuse were revealed earlier this year, including a police constable accused of rape and stalking who logged in under another officer's name to check the background of a girlfriend's former fiance, and a senior female detective who was accused of stealing money from the station's social club.

"In my view the conditions of Mr Atkinson's reappointment for a further three years should provide some recognition of the need to effect improvement in these areas, thus imposing upon the Commissioner of Police accountability for occasional and systemic failure in the areas of supervision and unethical behaviour," he said.

The letter written in April this year, which was obtained by The Courier-Mail under Right to Information, followed a spat between the State Government and Mr Moynihan over the handling of Mr Atkinson's reappointment. Mr Moynihan claimed he hadn't been informed before Premier Anna Bligh's decision but the Government denied this, saying meeting notes showed evidence to the contrary.

Mr Atkinson said at a public hearing into systemic issues identified during an investigation into allegations of police misconduct on the Gold Coast, that any failure of professional standards by members needed to be addressed in a "swift, proportionate and balanced manner".

The CMC's Operation Tesco examined allegations of inappropriate associations with criminals, drug use, misuse of confidential police information and resources, leadership and supervision, and acceptance of gratuities.

The CMC released a statement this week saying its relation with QPS was "not aggressive but reflective of healthy co-operation".

"This co-operation, however, will not always mean that we'll reach consensus - nor should it," the statement said. "If the CMC is to maintain high standards of integrity within the QPS and other public sector organisations, it is inevitable that there will be disagreement from time to time."


Friday, November 12, 2010

Former Qld. cop jailed for stealing a pistol and swapping it with a friend for two surfboards

The Gold Coast cops again

A former Gold Coast cop who swapped a police pistol for two surfboards has been sentenced to two years' jail, but will be free in six months. Christopher Morris Curtin stole the Glock .22 handgun from the gun safe at the Surfers Paradise police station in 2001 and swapped it with a mate, a NSW surfboard maker and convicted drug dealer, for two boards.

Southport District Court was told the surfboard maker, Brian Kellway, wanted the gun for pig shooting. [A .22 for shooting pigs? Tell us another one!]

The weapon was traced back to Surfers Paradise police station after it was on-sold several years later for $5000 to an undercover NSW police officer.

Curtin, who quit the Queensland Police Force in 2008 and became a wildlife carer, pleaded guilty to aggravated stealing and possession of tainted property. Judge Kerry O'Brien said he accepted Curtin had stolen the gun to help a friend rather than a crime figure. But he told Curtin: "The community expects police, those charged with detecting things, not to succumb to such behaviour.''

He jailed Curtin for two years, but orderered the sentence be suspended after six months.


Ludicrous: Crime rates down in Queensland – but there are more murders, assaults, computer fraud and traffic offences

MURDERS, assaults, computer fraud and traffic offences have risen in Queensland in the past year but the overall rate of crime has fallen.

Police Minister Neil Roberts and Deputy Commissioner Ian Stewart have released the 2009-2010 police statistical review, hailing it as a positive result.

But the report shows spikes in some of the most serious crimes, with nine more murders last year compared with the previous year, assaults up six per cent and over 18,000 fraud offences.

Police also issued more traffic fines and there was a 53 per cent leap in disqualified drivers.