Thursday, November 26, 2009

Toothless police watchdog?

Parliament told CMC head 'refused to act' on complaint about police Mafia. They could at least have looked into it. The claim that it was outside their jurisdiction is risible. Once again we see evidence that the CMC is just a reincarnation of Sir Joh's old Police Whitewash Tribunal

A MAGISTRATE'S wife has detailed explosive claims about how the head of Queensland's corruption watchdog refused to investigate her allegations about cabals of police families committing serious crimes. Respected academic Dr Christine Eastwood has claimed Crime and Misconduct Commission chair Robert Needham failed to act on her allegations that a senior member of his own organisation was a member of one of the families. But Mr Needham last night denied the allegations, saying they appeared to stem from a long-running family dispute.

In a statutory declaration, Dr Eastwood, the wife of Southport magistrate John Costanzo, claims she and her husband held a meeting with Mr Needham in a Coolangatta hotel room in August. Dr Eastwood alleged Mr Needham taped their conversation but refused to accept her complaint. "Towards the end of the meeting, when I expressed concern that he had left me with nowhere to go, he again discouraged me from going to police and reiterated that the CMC would not accept the complaint," she said. "He left the meeting room and refused to take with him any of the documentation I had prepared in relation to the complaint."

Mr Needham said it was a case of "adding one and one and getting 10". "Unfortunately, the emotional situation means their objectivity has totally gone." Mr Needham said the allegations were not in his jurisdiction and did not raise "reasonable" suspicion.

Opposition deputy leader Lawrence Springborg attempted to table Dr Eastwood's declaration yesterday, as well as a complaint and correspondence with the Parliamentary Crime and Misconduct Committee, in Parliament. While Mr Springborg said Dr Eastwood's declaration had not yet been put before the parliamentary committee, Speaker John Mickel stymied the tabling of the documents out of caution not to breach House rules applying to submissions before a committee.

But last night, under federal parliamentary privilege, Liberal MP Peter Lindsay read Dr Eastwood's statutory declaration into the Lower House record.

Dr Eastwood claims in the documents that senior police, including detectives in the fraud squad and in the drug and property crime squad, were potentially involved in serious crimes including fraud, forgery and murder. The documents show Dr Eastwood wrote to the PCMC after Mr Needham allegedly refused to act but she objected to the committee informing the CMC of her complaint to seek a report from the watchdog on the issue. She said such a move could potentially inform the allegedly corrupt police of her complaint, putting her family at risk.

In Parliament, Mr Springborg questioned Attorney-General Cameron Dick on whether he was aware of the issue and if he was satisfied they had been fully investigated. Mr Dick criticised Mr Springborg for trying to table the documents before the PCMC but promised the matter would be properly investigated.

SOURCE. There's a smell of coverup over this -- JR

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Some more observations of Queensland police goons

An email from a reader

Perhaps getting older one becomes more sensitive to things, but since I moved to Cotton Tree at Maroochydore 4 years ago, I have found myself thinking more and more with dissatisfaction on the matter of the police force in Qld, from the most basic level, that being, someone in the street who simply observes and takes note.

Each and every instance of observing members of the police has been unsatisfactory-to-highly unsatisfactory, and here I find myself, searching Google and reading a blog such as yours.

Of late, I witnessed a police car pull up an acquaintance of mine as he was walking home from work, and watching the manner of their interaction with him, I was appalled. It was a police car with 4 members inside, patrolling the very quiet waterside neighbourhood of Cotton Tree. They pulled the car right off the curb in front of this chap, blocking his progress along the footpath, wound down a window and demanded with aggressive tones what he was doing. When he replied he was walking home from the Plaza where he worked as a store manager (he was in full uniform, very neat, with a work bag), they queried him further about his address and place of work, then drove off abruptly with no further comment.

The interaction contained no salutation, no final words of thanks or recognition, nothing, just abrupt, aggressive bullying with absolutely no reason. The person was clearly shaken, quite badly, to the point where I offered to walk him home and hear what had happened in further detail.

I was so taken aback, and so affronted by this event in my little street, in my sleepy neighbourhood, involving a person who in no terms looked like a victim or suspect either, that I actually called the local Maroochydore station, and made a formal complaint.

This in itself was an ordeal, in which I had to endure every effort to shunt my complaint aside, to verbally badger me into recanting and hanging up, and eventually to placing obstacles in my path to making a complaint which I felt was my right, as a taxpaying citizen concerned at the conduct of a public employee. I am not so much of a pushover, and can string a sentence together, an attribute I have found that absolutely infuriates the police communications office, luckily as otherwise my complaint would have gone the way of many others, I am betting.

It seemed that at some point I passed a test, the "do we really have to do something about this person" test, after which a police communications person called me back and addressed the issue, albeit in a way that I suspect meant it would go no further. As it turns out, the car was responding to a call reporting a woman yelling in the area, and they were doing a drive by of the street.

Since then I have kept careful note of all further incidents I have witnessed by police in my town, and I must say, the attitude of dogged rudeness and self entitlement absolutely appalls me. I started out thinking along the lines of your latest blog entry, the hardships of the police job, and the social penalties they must work under, and giving them benefit of the doubt for that. But my observations are all in instances where really ordinary, respectable for lack of a better term, people have born the absolute rudeness and bullying of their local police force.

When an officer cannot enjoy an interaction with a pleasant member of the public, one like my acquaintance who would have been pro-police, polite to a fault, helpful and thankful, then there is something wrong, seriously wrong, in the system. The excuse that they deal with the awful spectrum of humanity, and hence their job is so difficult, no longer pulls weight with me.

As a PhD, a MPsych and a very well travelled, intelligent law abiding citizen (yes after dealing with the communications office one finds oneself pulling out all the armour and giving it a polish) I say the Queensland police force is a repulsive organisation, not fitting of the tax payers dollars to fund it, nor the good will it so belligerently demands.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Watchdog slams Queensland police corruption

ANTI-corruption watchdog chief Robert Needham has slammed police mishandling of the Mulrunji death in custody, unleashing his most scathing attack yet on an internal police investigation. The Crime and Misconduct Commission is expected to release its report on the police investigation into the 2004 Palm Island death in custody of Cameron Doomadgee, 36, known by his tribal name as Mulrunji, next year.

Mr Needham, the CMC chair, said yesterday the CMC was less than happy with the handling of the police probe into the death of the Aboriginal man inside the Palm Island watchhouse five years ago. "What we've done is go back to ground zero," he said. "We've gone right to the primary documents. We went to every interview that's ever been had with all the relevant officers and gone back through every single thing in great detail."

The CMC report is expected to recommend disciplinary action against senior officers who investigated the death in custody and to criticise the case as an example of police protecting their own. Mr Needham said he would wait until the report was finished before going any further.

Yesterday he released the three-year investigation into policing in remote indigenous communities ordered after the infamous riots and burning of the police station on Palm Island, five years ago today, and another 2007 riot in Aurukun.

The CMC report calls on the State Government to make finalising all outstanding legal matters in the affair by the sixth anniversary of Mulrunji's death next year a high priority "goal".

But the man's family remains sceptical. "It's not over yet,"' said sister Lizzie Doomadgee. Yesterday Lizzie and two sisters admitted to a case of deja vu as they sat in the front row of Townsville Magistrates Court. They sat, resolute, as they did through a first coronial inquest, a CMC inquiry, a Department of Public Prosecutions decision, an Attorney-General's appeal, a manslaughter trial, and now another inquest. "We're waiting for justice," said Ms Doomadgee. They still have a civil damages suit pending against Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley and Queensland Police.

Five years ago, Mulrunji died of internal bleeding with four broken ribs and his liver cleaved in two after a jailhouse tussle with Sen-Sgt Hurley. Sen-Sgt Hurley was tried and acquitted of the manslaughter of Mulrunji in 2007.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Brian Hine yesterday ordered the second inquest be held over 10 days on Palm Island and in Townsville from March 8. The second inquest comes after a Court of Appeal ordered the findings of the 2006 inquest that Hurley caused the injuries to Mulrunji by punching him be set aside.

It later emerged Mulrunji probably died as a result of a catastrophic injury caused by compressive force to his stomach, most likely a knee. [The knee of a hulking cop by the name of Hurley, to be precise]

Counsel assisting the coroner Ralph Devlin said there had been "many conflicting and inconsistent accounts of witnesses".


Monday, November 16, 2009

Honest cop back at work after beating corrupt police bosses -- for now

A OFFICER who exposed cronyism and corruption in the police force has returned to duty after 18 months of being forced to see psychiatrists despite being fit. Sergeant Robbie Munn said he was greeted by "a lot of smiles, handshakes and pats on the back" by other officers at the Maroochydore police station after battling against police bureaucracy.

Sgt Munn, who rebelled against a culture he said deterred whistleblowers from reporting "dirty little secrets" in the service, credited an October story in The Courier-Mail with restoring his career. Only days before the story ran, Sgt Munn was barred from duty but within hours of the story's publication his doctor received a report clearing him for service. "The story was the only reason I was allowed back," he said. "I still think they want me out and will try to medically retire me."

Sgt Munn is working three days a week on a rehabilitation program recommended for him last year but only offered to him after the story appeared. Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson said he would meet with Sgt Munn to discuss his concerns, but the meeting has yet to occur.

Sgt Munn was supported by Queensland Police Union general secretary Mick Barnes, Maroochydore's Sgt John Saez, a 37-year veteran, and dozens of Dayboro residents impressed with his services as officer-in-charge in the town.

Sgt Munn, who was in charge of 70 police officers at Maroochydore, said he was smeared in the bureaucracy after exposing that police cheated on promotion exams by plagiarising and paying others to complete their work. He also unsuccessfully tried to reform rosters at the Maroochydore watchhouse after becoming concerned at some work practices. A year later, two officers were charged and eventually jailed for taking advantage of female prisoners.

When he was overlooked for promotion in Dayboro, he appealed to the CMC and won, embarrassing his managers. After having a heart attack, Sgt Munn said he was not allowed to return to duty despite his GP and two psychiatrists saying he was fit. The police service was accused of doctor-shopping for a negative report to keep Sgt Munn from returning.

He was embarrassed to be paid more than $100,000 from a fund for ill police officers while he was on enforced leave. "At least now I have direction. For 18 months I had no direction," he said.

Police bureaucrats sat on a favourable report on his mental condition until after the newspaper article appeared.

Evie, his wife, said her husband had been "honest to his own detriment". Union secretary Mr Barnes said Sgt Munn was a victim of "bastardisation" in the force. "It highlights the mindset within many senior QPS officers who are unable to agree to disagree," he said.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Outrage over handling of Queensland police bullying claim

THE son of a missing Queensland policeman has accused the state's top cop of lacking professionalism in dealing with allegations his father was bullied by high-ranking officers.

In an open letter to Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson, Steven Isles claims concerns over the treatment of his father Senior Sergeant Mick Isles have been dismissed without an open and transparent investigation.

Sen Sgt Isles, the officer in charge of Ayr Police Station, south of Townsville, has been missing since September 23 despite exhaustive search operations involving police, army and SES personnel.

His disappearance came just days after he returned to work following 13 months of sick leave, which was prompted by allegations of misconduct for which he was fully exonerated.

The Isles family claim his disappearance and the lengthy investigation which preceded it were the result of bullying and victimisation by high-ranking officers and has called for an inquiry into the internal culture of the Queensland Police Service (QPS).

However, Mr Isles says his allegations have been ignored, pointing to media comments by the commissioner last month.

"I just don't believe he was the subject of bullying – I know the people involved and I just don't believe that that was so," Mr Atkinson told the Nine Network on October 13.

Mr Isles insists Mr Atkinson should have maintained a neutral position on the matter and allowed the claims to be independently investigated.

"Where is a person's right to raise grievance and an individual's expectation they ought be dealt with professionally and impartially?" he asked in the letter.

"In my opinion, remaining impartial and without bias as the CEO of the QPS would be the most professional course of action," he wrote.