Friday, July 29, 2011

Lazy Victoria police couldn't be bothered to catch a crook

They were handed the evidence on a plate but only a complaint to a police regulator got them off their fat backsides. I had a very similar experience with the Queensland police -- JR

Emily Kitson thought her iPhone 4 was gone forever when it was stolen from beneath a cash register while she was at work. Her partner, Josh, was beginning to think so too after dealing with what he said was an unhelpful police officer.

On Saturday May 21 this year, Ms Kitson, 19, had been working at a lolly store at Broadmeadows Shopping Centre in Victoria. "It was just like a normal Saturday and I had my phone underneath the till where everyone else leaves their phone," Ms Kitson said.

During the day she served a man she described as being in his 30s or 40s who "distracted both of the staff and paid for his lollies and left". Immediately after serving him, though, another man came up to Ms Kitson, she said, and told her that he saw the man she just served steal her phone. "I checked and ... it was gone, so I went and got the security guard and they sort of chased after him."

After waiting about an hour, Ms Kitson said she was told by security that the man who stole her phone had got away in a taxi but that they had imagery of him stealing it on CCTV footage.

Following the iPhone theft, Ms Kitson said she called her partner Josh, who remembered installing "Google Latitude" onto her phone, a location-aware app that lets authorised friends track where someone's phone is. The app uses GPS, wi-fi and mobile phone towers to determine a phone's location. Luckily for Ms Kitson, Josh was an authorised friend. "I completely forgot about it," she said.

After realising the app was installed, Ms Kitson said Josh told her he had tracked the phone "to a place about a kilometre from the shopping centre". The location was constantly updating.

With CCTV footage available for police to obtain from Broadmeadows Shopping Centre and the Google Latitude app pinpointing the phone to a suburban house, Emily and her partner believed they had some hope in retrieving it with the help of police.

But according to Ms Kitson, the police officer she and Josh spoke to at Broadmeadows Police Station was unhelpful to deal with. "I told them everything that I had, I gave them a description, I said that we had tracked [the thief] to an address and that it was still updating and that I had him on video doing it," Ms Kitson said.

But the police officer she spoke with "wasn't very nice", she said. "He didn't seem to be very interested in what we were saying. I don't know if it was because we were young. [But] he sort of gave me the impression that I was lying [and] he said that [he didn't] understand how something like [this could] happen."

Despite this, Ms Kitson said the officer wrote down the information she gave him on a notebook and said that he would send a report to her by Tuesday. "I was a bit disheartened considering how much we had," she said. "I figured [the information I gave them] would be enough for them to actually do something. I didn't think that I would get my phone back - but at the very least maybe the [thief] would get charged because I heard from people within the shopping centre that he was the common person there that stole a lot of stuff."

Josh "was pretty upset" about the officer's effort, Ms Kitson said. "So he sort of just started chasing it up and ringing up and seeing if it had been reported." In doing so, she said he "found out that the guy that I had spoken to at the police station had gone on ... leave and hadn't even reported the incident". Comment is being sought from police on this claim.

"... It wasn't even reported yet, which was the very least that we would expect," Ms Kitson claimed, which led her partner to continue to call police, checking up the case. "He just kept talking to people and they just kept stuffing him about and saying 'You're just going to have to wait it out'," she said.

What made it worse for the pair was that the phone was not insured, which made retrieving it a top priority for them.

Ms Kitson understood there were "more important crimes out there" than a stolen iPhone but believed that with the information she had the case could be closed fairly quickly.

"All the time that this was happening ... the phone was updating the address. And that was horrible because I could see that [a] person had my phone but there was nothing that I could do about it. "I wasn't about to go to their address and say 'Give me back my phone'."

The phone had even made its way to a nearby Catholic girls' school, according to Josh. It later became evident as to why.

After dealing with police for a number of days, Ms Kitson's partner Josh took the case to the Victoria Police Conduct Unit. "The police were not helping us at all," Ms Kitson said.

After her partner communicated with the Conduct Unit a number of times, the officer who the couple first reported the incident to got back to Ms Kitson's partner to tell him that he had sent a squad car to the address where the Google Latitude tracking software had located the phone, only to find the address didn't exist, Ms Kitson said.

"So Josh went on Google Maps and printed out pictures of the house. He found a real estate listing of it to prove that it was a real house. I don't know what [the police] were looking at".

A trip was then made to the police station to explain how the Google Latitude software worked, she said, and officers were given several photos Josh had of locations where the phone had been tracked to. "We were taking screenshots of every time it updated," Ms Kitson said.

It's understood the location the phone was pinpointing was not the house with the stolen phone but one nearby, which led police to have to investigate further.

Ten days after the phone was stolen, Josh received a call he wasn't expecting. "One morning we had a call saying that [the police] had gone to [a] house at 12 o'clock at night and gotten my phone," Ms Kitson said. "Apparently it was a 14-year-old girl that had it."

According to Ms Kitson, the police informed that the girl had purchased the phone for about $80 from what they believed was the man that stole it at the lolly shop. The man had apparently taken the iPhone directly to the girl after he stole it, Ms Kitson said police told her.

She described how the girl had left a number of text messages on the phone that indicated the girl knew the phone had been stolen. An online instant messenger program - MSN - was also left signed in. "I was very shocked that I got my phone back; I wasn't expecting it at all."

Now Ms Kitson has the girl's phone number saved in her contacts under "Idiot Who Bought A Stolen iPhone". The number was made available to Ms Kitson as the girl had sent messages to her friends with the new number she presumably got from buying a new SIM card for the iPhone to work. "They left messages on there, texting everyone saying they got a new phone but 'I can't tell you where from'."

Ms Kitson said she read many of the messages on the phone, as it was her property, but "didn't do anything mean - though I probably could have". There were also a number of new purchased apps on the phone.

In a statement, Victoria Police said a phone was reported stolen on May 21 and recovered after the execution of a warrant at a Meadow Heights property on May 31. It said a 46 year-old female had been interviewed regarding the matter, "however no charges have been laid and the investigation is ongoing".


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The charming Victoria police again

Policeman loses car after being caught hooning at Mornington

A DETECTIVE had his unregistered car impounded for 30 days after being caught hooning in Mornington on the weekend.

The 42-year-old off-duty policeman from the eastern region was pulled over by police on Main St about 11pm on Saturday.

A police spokeswoman said he was interviewed and is likely to be charged on summons with failing to have proper control of his vehicle and driving an unregistered car. His car was impounded for 30 days under the hoon legislation.

He is likely to face an internal disciplinary hearing over the matter.

A "no pursuit" policy in Queensland?

Police pursuits have their problems but stopping them altogether is just bureaucratic cowardice. Comments from Peter Pyke below, a former Queensland police officer who still has contacts in the service. His mobile: 0427 388 598

We recently saw the CMC’s report into police pursuits published. It proves that many drivers of vehicles which evade police pursuits these days are car thieves who are not to be found at the address attached to the vehicle’s Queensland Transport records. Duh!

Who does not remember the stolen yellow Holden Monaro sedan which was allowed to ram a cop car in a servo then continue to drive unrestricted around the Gold Coast area for at least a week whilst it was being used in crimes because someone in the QPS came up with a no-pursuit policy? I can’t. I’ve personally written up two diabolically insane situations here on the Darling Downs where criminals not known to police driving stolen vehicles and continuing to commit crime could only be ‘observed’ by police, despite late-night and low traffic situations being highly favourable for a short chase unlikely to result in anything other than an arrest.

Can anyone else see the Keystone Cops aspects of this policy which I say is contributing to the number of armed robberies and a general disrespect for police?

Any hoon worth their salt must be laughing up their sleeves at the Queensland coppers ‘no pursuit’ policy. Any copper worth their’s must be fuming. Any armed robber is likely to pinch themselves when they do a runner and the cops have to simply peel off as soon as the baddie puts his/her foot down.

Citizens should be outraged. Part of policing is catching bad guys. Part of catching bad guys is chasing them, on foot, in cars, in boats and in the air.

The CMC report also confirms that the customary penalty for drivers who fail to stop for police who must not fail to stop is about the same price of a big night out for a teen driver - $300.00. Is that a real deterrent? No, it’s a seriously unfunny joke and if police are to continue to be stopped from pursuing stolen vehicles which are used to commit crimes, specialist ground-air units to track these vehicles and arrest offenders when they are stopped must be formed as has been implemented with marked success in some US states. Until this is done, the no-pursuit policy must be relaxed for competent police drivers who have been trained to chase safely and – like me – have performed hundreds of high-speed pursuits without incident. That’s part of their job, it goes with the territory.

That reminds me, why is it that Queensland has no police helicopters? Non? Zero. Zilch? Zip? As I said before, its not cash. Last year, someone in the QPS failed to expend $16 million. That would have paid for two choppers, or one chopper and a lot of other things. Last year, someone in the QPS earned a pat on the head for helping out the Bligh Government’s bottom line. Personally, I think they deserve a kick up the arse for failing my community.

By email from the author

Friday, July 22, 2011

Great to be a cop

NSW Officer guilty of peeing on war memorial gets off. A man who desecrated the cenotaph in London recently went to jail

A FEMALE police officer who urinated on a Sydney war memorial has escaped a conviction, despite a magistrate describing the offence as "vile and despicable".

Jessica Mary Lodge, a 29-year-old constable based at Redfern police station in the inner city, pleaded guilty at Downing Centre Local Court to urinating on the steps of the Anzac War Memorial in Hyde Park, in the city's CBD, last month.

Magistrate Jane Culver, who described the offence as "vile and despicable", did not record a conviction against Lodge, but placed her on a 12-month good behaviour bond.

According to court documents, about 10.30pm on June 16, a security guard saw Lodge pull down her jeans and squat on the war memorial steps before urinating.

When the guard informed her she was under arrest, Lodge tried to leave the scene, saying: "I'm a police officer, just let me go, this will affect my career." Police arrived soon after to question the off-duty officer, who apologised and said she had been at a "half-yearly" function and just "needed to go to the toilet". An officer who attended the scene said Lodge appeared "moderately intoxicated", the police fact sheet tendered to the court said.

She was allowed to leave and the incident, which was captured on CCTV footage, was reported.

Lodge's lawyer, Patrick Conaghan, told the magistrate his client was unaware the Hyde Park structure was a war memorial. He also said her father had served in WWII.

Lodge had been charged with committing an offensive act.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

W.A. Cops accused of concocting story to avoid speeding fine

Two police officers have been charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice after allegedly trying to "write off" speeding fines by falsifying documents and claiming they were engaged in a pursuit.

The constables, a male and a female, were today charged by internal affairs officers after a protracted investigation.

In April, The Sunday Times revealed the two officers were stood down over a $75 speeding fine after they claimed to have been chasing a vehicle when their police car went through a speed trap on Stirling Highway in Cottesloe at 1.35am on August 13 last year.

The police vehicle was snapped by a fixed speed camera travelling 7km/h over the 60km/h limit. But a review of several seconds of video footage taken by the camera after the alleged offence revealed there were no other cars in sight at the time.

Both officers, who were stationed in the central metropolitan district at the time, were today charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice. They are due to appear in Perth Magistrates Court on August 5 and remain stood down on full pay.

The prosecution will allege that the female officer, who was a passenger at the time, accessed the in-car computer system to enter the registration of a ficticious vehicle into a CAD (computer aided dispatch) and claimed to have pulled over the vehicle to speak with the driver.

It will also be alleged that the female officer put in a radio call to the Police Operations Centre reporting the speed camera had been activated during the pursuit, before entering another false entry in the CAD system.

The male officer, who had been the driver at the time, allegedly used the false information to make an entry in his police notebook about the incident.

Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan has previously warned that any officers found to give misleading information during internal investigations risked losing their jobs.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Police Officer of the Year escapes conviction for drink-driving

Excellent: Now we all know how to get off a drink-driving charge. Say that a conviction would "impact on your 'economic or social well-being'"

THE Gold Coast's Police Officer of the Year has escaped a conviction for drink-driving after a court accepted it would impact on his 'economic or social well-being'.

Police asked for a conviction to be recorded against Senior Constable Michael Froggatt but Southport magistrate Terry Duroux exercised his discretion not to impose one.

Mr Duroux said he accepted Sen Const Froggatt had shown 'very genuine' remorse and faced being demoted and having his pay docked by the Queensland Police Service.

Sen Const Froggatt pleaded guilty today to drink-driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.085 per cent after being picked up in Surfers Paradise following a night-shift at the weekend. He is believed to have gone to the Sin City nightclub after finishing work.

Sen-Const Froggatt has been stood down from operational duties and faces an internal investigation after breath-testing himself before getting into his vehicle.

Defence lawyer Bill Potts said police were subjected to the same 'failure, weaknesses and misjudgments' as everyone and Sen Const Froggatt accepted he had let down his colleagues and the community. But he said the community asked 'an awful lot' of police and Sen Const Froggatt had worked two 13-hour shifts before he was nabbed for drink-driving. "Is it any wonder a man has a drink to relax and take the edge off the tension of working in Surfers Paradise?" he told the court. Mr Potts said his client had also been shamed in the media.

Mr Duroux said he accepted the community did ask a lot of police and took into account character references, including one from the vice-chancellor of Bond University where Sen Const Froggatt is studying a criminology degree part-time.

The magistrate fined Sen Const Froggatt $400 and disqualified him from driving for three months, but ordered no conviction be recorded.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cop's personal car impounded after reckless driving charges

A SENIOR police officer has been charged with reckless driving and will have his car seized after he was allegedly caught speeding twice in the same day in the state's south.

Mark McKenzie, a 41-year-old detective, was snapped by a Multanova speed camera travelling at 125kmh and 134kmh in an 80kmh zone in the Great Southern police district on June 25.

The officer will have his personal vehicle seized under anti-hoon laws and face a $1000 speeding fine. He could also be hit with disciplinary action, following an internal investigation into the incident.

Mr McKenzie is due to appear in Albany Magistrates Court on August 1.

Acting Commander for Regional WA Lawrence Panaia said the officer was on duty and was driving to a job with lights and sirens in operation on both occasions. ``Clearly, there are some ramifications on whether or not that type of driving was justified in those circumstances,'' he said.

``There's two outcomes that you can reach here. One, that the urgent duty driving was warranted and the officer has done nothing wrong, or secondly, that it wasn't warranted and we need to then take action, and that's where it would be a real concern.''

He said the internal investigation would focus on whether the job warranted a high-speed response.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Cop of the Year arrested for drink-driving

THE Gold Coast's Police Officer of the Year has been arrested for drink-driving and faces a court date as well as possible disciplinary action.

Senior Constable Michael Froggatt was nabbed while off-duty and in a private vehicle in Surfers Paradise about 5am on Sunday after working a night-shift. The 34-year-old officer was breath-tested by colleagues and allegedly recorded a blood alcohol concentration of .085 per cent. He was given a notice to appear in Southport Magistrates Court on Wednesday. A police spokeswoman said disciplinary action was also being considered.

Sen-Const Froggatt is a detective, now working in uniform in Surfers Paradise, who has worked on some of the Gold Coast's biggest criminal cases. He has also been undertaking a criminology degree part-time at Bond University where he serves as a 'campus cop', giving students crime and public safety advice.

Last August, Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson presented Sen-Const Froggatt with the Rotary Gold Coast Police Officer of the Year award for efforts including implementing a Neighbourhood Watch scheme. His reign is due to end next month.

After a spate of police were caught drink-driving, Mr Atkinson last year introduced tougher discIplinary penalties for his officers, including dismissal for high-range blood alcohol readings above .15 per cent cent.

However, a Sunshine Coast officer who was sacked after blowing .235 per cent successfully challenged his dismissal in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal which ordered his reinstatement.

Last month, Mr Atkinson said random drug and alcohol testing for Queensland police was 'inevitable'. This followed a Crime and Misconduct Commission investigation into Gold Coast police taking drugs and drinking free alcohol in nightclubs.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Police caught on CCTV tape manhandling teenage woman in South Australian country station

POLICE officers shown in CCTV footage of the violent arrest of a teenager at a country station are now being investigated. Sent anonymously to The Advertiser yesterday, the footage shows the 18-year-old woman being pushed against the charge counter by a male officer while her arms are pinned, even though she appears to be compliant and non-aggressive.

Five male officers are present during the ordeal, which unfolds over more than 10 minutes. At one stage, the teen's shoulder and body are roughly forced against the counter, while an officer puts his right arm into her neck.

The same officer also kicks the girl's legs apart on two occasions and pins her left hand against the counter, clearly causing her discomfort.

The woman was subsequently charged with three counts of assault police and is due in court in October.

She was taken to the station after having been arrested for disorderly behaviour while in the driveway of the block of flats where she lives.

The Advertiser understands the incident was initially investigated by the police station's operations manager, and an officer subsequently placed on a personal learning and performance program. A new internal investigation is under way, following a fresh complaint from an anonymous officer.

Assistant Commissioner Madeleine Glynn last night admitted police's Internal Investigation Section and the Police Complaints Authority had been advised of the incident. "Police take complaints of excessive force seriously and, as such, a thorough investigation is being undertaken into all aspects of this incident," Ms Glynn said in an emailed statement to The Advertiser. "As this is an active investigation no further comment will be made."

Yesterday, the woman declined to comment, following advice from her lawyers. A friend was keeping her company and a number of young people visited her flat. The woman's lawyers are preparing to defend the three charges of assault police that the teen faces.

They were aware some CCTV footage had been leaked from the police station - understandably by police - but were not aware if it had been sent to Police Commissioner Mal Hyde. The woman's lawyer, Karen Koerner, said her client would "vigorously defend" the assault charges against her.

It is understood a police officer visited the girl about two days after the May 3 arrest and handling of the girl in the police station, and gave her paperwork to make a formal complaint about her treatment by police officers. A document accompanied the CCTV footage sent to The Advertiser, which names the officers shown in the footage.

The footage shows the woman at the charge counter; she appears upset, but at no stage during the footage does she appear to be a threat to the five male officers present. The girl is eventually taken to a cell, where another male officer removes her necklace. She is clearly agitated and appears to hyperventilate.

Opposition Police spokesman David Ridgway said Police Minister Kevin Foley should demand an inquiry into the incident and the officers involved should be stood down pending the outcome.

"From what I've seen, the force that was used seems to be unreasonable," Mr Ridgway said. "It is alarming that someone within SAPOL has felt the only solution is to go to the media," he said. "That does bring into question their internal investigations and the validity of those investigations."