Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Junior Qld. cop caught taking  drugs in undercover sting

Peter Michael

UNDERCOVER police busted a young constable using   ecstasy during a covert operation in a popular far-North party scene

In the latest scandal to embroil incoming Police Commissioner Ian Stewart, Ethical Standards Command ordered local detectives to run  an internalal affairs investigation into the junior officer.

The top-level probe came after drug squad officers identified the constable buying and taking the party drug ecstasy with friends on social outings in Cairns.

The Brisbane-based drug squad operatives had been in the tropical north as part of a series of top-secret  investigations into alleged drug  trafficking syndicates operating  from Melbourne to  the Gold   Coast to Cairns.

It is understood the police  constable, the son of a highly   respected 35-year veteran of  the Queensland Police Service,  was picked up by surveillance  interacting with priority targets in the underworld sting. The Courier-Mail understands the policeman  apologised for the shame, hurt and embarrassment he caused   to the QPS, in particular his father, and has since resigned

The above story appeared in the "Courier Mail" on Wednesday, September 5, 2012, p.7

Calls for Qld. police on drug raids to wear body-mounted video cameras to limit corruption

Failure to dob crooked colleagues will also be penalized

THERE are calls to force police on drug raids to wear body-mounted video cameras after footage surfaced of a rogue detective allegedly pocketing stolen cash.

Incoming Police Commissioner Ian Stewart vowed to sack the officer - who is currently on leave while being investigated by the Crime and Misconduct Commission - if he is found guilty.

Mr Stewart went further in warning other police would face sanctions for turning a blind eye to corruption.

The Courier-Mail can reveal today that the drug squad detective sergeant at the centre of the latest scandal had been oblivious to any secret anti-graft probe until he walked in on senior officers talking about a "rogue cop" and "a rat in the ranks" after an unauthorised leak from internal affairs and the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

The officer reportedly spontaneously vomited in front of his colleagues in a physical reaction of shock.

Shortly after, the officer contacted lawyers and took leave from the QPS. He has spent the past few weeks in Belmont Private Hospital undergoing mental health assessment.

Queensland Police Union and Civil Liberties yesterday joined calls to provide officers in top-level raids with body-worn video cameras.

In July last year, officers in Townsville and Toowoomba wore the clip-on devices in a six-month trial.

Police Union President Ian Leavers said he had been calling for them to be worn as a rule rather than by exception for two years.   "I know if these were used (by police) both the public and the police themselves would have complete faith in their actions," he said.

He said the union was assisting the officer, who had not been formally interviewed or charged, in the preliminary investigation.

Terry O'Gorman, President of the Australian Council for Civil Liberties, backed the calls for police video.

"Every time police kick in doors in top-level raids, they should be wearing these body cameras," said Mr O'Gorman, a criminal lawyer.  "Police stealing money on drug raids was a significant problem pre-Fitzgerald and one that required police to change their procedures.

Mr Stewart sounded a warning to any police who failed to blow the whistle on corruption.

"Stealing is a criminal offence. We cannot have thieves in the Queensland Police Service," he said.   "The future will show that officers not only should come forward and raise those allegations, if they don't, certainly they face very severe penalties themselves.

"Ethics is not something you can turn on and turn off. It's like being pregnant - you can't be half pregnant. You either have your ethics and credibility or you don't."

He promised a speedy investigation.  "There are some minor hold-ups and that deals with the specific case and circumstances that we find ourselves in but as soon as possible this matter will be wrapped up and dealt with," he said.

Mr Stewart will take over from outgoing Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson who retires at the end of October.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dodgy Qld. cop caught out pocketing the loot in drug raid

DRUG criminals have enlisted the state's corruption watchdog to unmask a police officer they claim stole cash during a raid.

The Courier-Mail understands CCTV footage used by the alleged criminals shows the officer pocketing wads of $50 notes during a raid on their premises.

The revelation comes as incoming police commissioner Ian Stewart, whose appointment was announced yesterday, promised to get tough on rogue cops. He could walk into the job facing a fresh scandal more at home in the pre-Fitzgerald era.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission was contacted by a lawyer acting for the accused drug traffickers, who alleged they had footage of the police raid from a surveillance system hidden inside the alleged drug house.

The Courier-Mail understands footage obtained by the CMC allegedly shows the Brisbane-based detective putting wads of folded $50 notes in his pocket after executing a search warrant in raids in the state's southeast.

The highly regarded drug squad officer is allegedly captured on video stealing about $1500 in cash from the accused drug syndicate.

It is alleged the detective can then be seen in the footage calling another colleague into the room before they formally count out the remaining money as proceeds of crime.

The veteran of numerous top-level police operations is on leave from the Queensland Police Service. He is yet to be formally interviewed or charged.

As soon as the CMC was notified of the hidden video surveillance footage showing the alleged police corruption, it ordered covert surveillance on the officer including phone taps.

The secret CMC probe has spent several weeks investigating if the alleged corrupt behaviour was widespread or systemic.

Once senior police became aware of the officer's alleged action and the reported existence of the video footage, captured on one of two surveillance systems hidden in the raided building, they also reported the matter to the CMC.  It is understood the officer found one of the systems but not the other before he allegedly pocketed the cash.

The CMC has executed search warrants on the detective's home and his police office in the Brisbane drug squad headquarters.

High-ranking police officers, aware of the CMC investigation, yesterday told The Courier-Mail the officer accused of stealing the drug money had a reputation as a "good operator" and "top-class policeman".

They said they were "shocked" and "deeply surprised" by the allegation of a "rogue" in the ranks. But they dismissed the possibility of any systemic problems within the drug squad.

Lawyers working on the case say there is "no more invasive act" than a police officer "kicking a door in, with a search warrant, and then stealing from the criminals".  "You can't be a cop and be a crook at the same time," they said.

The Queensland Police Union is aware of the CMC investigation and is known to be supporting the officer and his family.

If found guilty, the officer faces a possible jail term of up to two years.

In a statement, the QPS said the "Ethical Standards Command is investigating an allegation of improper conduct involving property.

"The investigation will be overviewed by the CMC.  "As it is an ongoing investigation, no further information can be provided at this time."