Friday, December 24, 2010

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

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.


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.


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

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

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.


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.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

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.


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.


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.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Qld. cops don't dob on cops: report

A new report on police ethics has found some officers would not dob in [incriminate] a colleague who stole confiscated drugs and sold them on the street. The 158-page report released by the Crime and Misconduct Commission today, is based on surveys of recruits and first-year constables conducted between 1995 and 2008.

Although the commission found several positive developments over time including a majority view by police that "improper behaviour is serious and inexcusable", it also identified a number of worrying trends. They included a widespread reluctance among junior officers to formally report misconduct to the police service or the CMC, with about half saying they would not dob in an officer who stole drugs and sold them on the street.

The findings also revealed the majority of recruits and first year constables believed whistleblowers were likely to be ostracised by their peers. "Over two-thirds of recruits and 80 per cent of FYCs agreed that an officer who reported misconduct was likely to be 'given the cold shoulder'," the report said.

The commission has stressed the need for ongoing ethics training, emphasising the seriousness of all improper behaviour by police and at the same time raising awareness of and compliance with QPS policies and legislative obligations.


Monday, November 8, 2010

More Qld. cops who think they are judge and jury

Sunshine Coast police have been accused of negligence after punishing a teenager for riding without a helmet by forcing him to deflate his bike’s tyres, then leaving him stranded near bushland several kilometres from home.

Sippy Downs 15-year-old Josh Maday was pulled over by two officers about 3pm Saturday while riding his BMX bike on Claymore Road. Instead of issuing him with a warning for not wearing a helmet, the officers forced Josh to deflate his tyres so the bike couldn’t be ridden. He had no mobile phone credit and no option but to push his bike 3km home.

The Mountain Creek High School student’s mother agrees Josh was in the wrong for not wearing a helmet but believes the police response was way out of line. "It’s the first time he’s ever been pulled over and I understand the importance of helmets and I tell him to wear it all the time," Anne Dyer said. "He didn’t have it on him and there’s no excuse for that but they forced him to let the tyres down and wouldn’t let him go any further. "With the whole Daniel Morcombe case in the air you’d think they wouldn’t just leave him on the side of the road."

The officers called into Ms Dyer’s house to notify her of Josh’s situation but she wasn’t home. With his mobile phone out of credit, the teenager proceeded to make the half-hour trek home on foot.

"I’ve heard of kids getting a warning and with the bike laws, as a general rule, they’re supposed to give a warning, caution and then fine," Ms Dyer said. "I can understand them giving him a fine but I’ve never heard of a police officer deflating tyres. "It’s not uncommon for kids to ride around without a helmet but it’s like they were on a mission that afternoon and used him as an example."

Ms Dyer has since spoken to one of the officers involved, who defended his actions.

In a statement issued to the Daily, a Queensland Police spokeswoman said the officers used their "discretion" but declined to confirm whether deflating tyres was part of police protocol. "The officers used their discretion to deal in the manner they thought was most appropriate considering the full circumstances of the interaction with the young person," she said.

"By taking this course of action, rather than issuing an infringement notice and $100 penalty, they avoided a repetition of the offence, and possible injury to the juvenile. "We acknowledge that in retrospect there may have been more appropriate ways of managing the situation."


Friday, November 5, 2010

Qld. police watchdog accuses Deputy Police Commissioner Kathy Rynders of bungling disciplinary decision

Cops covering for cops, as usual

The crooked bitch above

The Crime and Misconduct Commission has delivered a scathing assessment of the objectivity of Deputy Police Commissioner Kathy Rynders as she prepares to discipline six officers involved in the Palm Island investigation.

In a hearing before the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, CMC barrister John Allen suggested Ms Rynders got virtually nothing right when she ruled misconduct charges against an officer accused of assault were unsubstantiated.

Sergeant Damien Chapman is alleged to have punched a 15-year-old boy under his ribs during his arrest at Clontarf, north of Brisbane, in May 2007. The complainant, now 18, was diagnosed as having a severely ruptured spleen after he began vomiting in pain at the Redcliffe police watchhouse shortly after his arrest.

Although doctors found the injury must have occurred within the two hours before his arrival at hospital, Deputy Commissioner Rynders decided it could not be proven that Sgt Chapman assaulted the boy.

Mr Allen told the tribunal yesterday there was no other plausible explanation for the injury, despite Ms Rynders finding it could have occurred while he was moving furniture at his house. He argued had that been the case, the boy would not have been able to flee Sgt Chapman when he arrived to arrest him over an alleged break and enter. "There is no record of any blunt force from behind being suffered by (the complainant) prior to his arrest," Mr Allen said.

He told the tribunal all Ms Rynders got right in her investigation was that the injury could not have occurred while the boy was being transported to the watchhouse. "There was simply no evidence to support that," Mr Allen said.

"(The complainant) has been consistent in his early complaint of assault by (Sgt Chapman). He's alleged an assault by police of a type that was consistent with the injury he received."

The CMC wants the tribunal to set aside Ms Rynders' ruling and sack Sgt Chapman for misconduct. Tribunal chairman James Thomas and senior member Susan Booth are expected to publish their decision in the next two weeks.

Ms Rynders is yet to decide on appropriate discipline for the six officers adversely mentioned in the CMC report on the police Palm Island death in custody investigations.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Qld. cops go berserk with Taser

The guy they were attending to had gone berserk but the police themselves were just as much out of control. The cop concerned should be charged with negligent homicide

POLICE repeatedly fired a Taser into a man until a spark "like a piece of lightning" shot out of his chest, an inquest has heard.

Witness Sandra Wynne yesterday told an inquest into the death of north Queensland man Antonio Galeano, 39, how she begged a police officer to stop firing the 50,000-volt device. "His face turned black," she said. "I could hear the buzzing of the Taser and Tony screaming in pain. "Every time I could see a little spark, like a piece of lightning, coming out of his chest. "I said to them: 'How many times can you hit him with that bloody thing until you kill him?' "

She broke into tears as she told the inquest how she watched as her lover died and his "eyes rolled back in his head".

Ms Wynne, a mother-of-two, had called police to calm her drug-addicted partner, who was naked and covered in blood, as he destroyed her flat in Brandon, south of Townsville, on June 12 last year. Galeano had torn out chunks of her hair, smashed furniture and thrown a television through a window.

Data collected from the Taser showed it was activated 28 times during the incident. Ms Wynne said police did nothing to try to resuscitate Galeano. "I was watching him die and they were doing nothing," she said.

The inquest heard earlier an officer had performed chest compressions after noticing Galeano was not breathing, but did not attempt mouth-to-mouth resuscitation because they did not have a mask with them.

Galeano had been treated and released from the mental health unit at Townsville Hospital a day earlier and was "very emotional and upset", claiming he had been beaten up by police, the inquest heard.

It also emerged Senior Constable Craig Myles, who fired the device, had never before used the Taser in the field. Inspector Ron Sakzewski, who headed the internal police investigation into the incident, said Sen-Constable Myles had attended a one-day Taser training course a month before the incident. He said training practices had been revised since Galeano's death.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Qld. Missing Persons Bureau did not work Sundays when Daniel Morcombe went missing

IF Daniel Morcombe had been reported as a missing person the day he vanished, the file would have gone to "an empty office".

The inquest into his suspected abduction and murder was told yesterday that in 2003, the Missing Persons Bureau "did not work Sundays".

Sergeant Robbie Munn, the police officer who took the initial statement from 13-year-old Daniel's parents, Bruce and Denise, early on the evening of December 7 that year, defended his decision not to immediately launch a full-scale search. Sgt Munn said even if he had forwarded a report to the Missing Persons Bureau, it would have been a waste of time. "They would not have had any staff on a Sunday and it would not have been attended to until Monday," he said. "At that time, it would have been forwarded to an empty office." Sgt Munn said for that reason an "official" missing persons report would have been "impractical and ineffective".

However, the inquest heard processes had since changed and several policies improved. These included the addition of a "risk assessment" check that now had to be completed by police every time someone was reported missing.

Under at times heated questioning from the Morcombes' solicitor Peter Boyce, Sgt Munn stood by his decision to send the Morcombes home to wait and see if Daniel turned up. He said there had been no pre-arranged time for Daniel to be back, so at that point he technically was not missing. Sgt Munn said Daniel had been from a good home, there were no tensions or obvious "warning signs" that would cause the boy to run away.

He organised a Be On The Lookout For (BOLF) bulletin to be broadcast to police in the Sunshine Coast area and said he would call the Morcombes a few hours later.

The inquest heard that when Sgt Munn phoned them at 10pm, darkness and the fact no shops or cinemas were open caused added concern.

Senior Constable Paul Campbell was the next officer involved. He had finished his 2-10pm shift at Palmwoods station, but was passed the responsibility to contact the Morcombes, which he did between 10.30 and 10.45pm. Sen-Constable Campbell said he treated it like a fresh complaint and interviewed Mr Morcombe about the events of the day. He decided it best to wait until the morning and arranged for the Morcombes to go to Palmwoods at 8am on the Monday to ask to lodge a missing persons report. "There were no facts before me that would lead me to think anything sinister had happened," said Sen-Constable Campbell.

Qld. Police officers Graham Richards and Paul Dalton on trial for trying to pervert course of justice

The trial of two senior Queensland police officers charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice will begin in Rockhampton today. The former boss of Rockhampton's Criminal Investigation Branch Graham Richards and his former colleague Paul Dalton, are accused of conducting a secretive meeting with a prisoner the day before his new cell mate confessed to a murder.

Detective Senior Sergeant Richards, now retired, and Detective Sergeant Dalton, who has been suspended without pay, are accused of meeting with prisoner Lee Owen Henderson at the Capricornia Correctional Centre near Rockhampton in 2005. The two officers were recorded signing in and out of the centre but did not follow the requirement to record the meeting in any diary, log book or running sheet.

The day after the meeting Henderson's new cell mate, Scott Jobling, who was moved to the same cell at the request of the officers, confessed to killing Rockhampton flower seller Suzanne Standing.

The two officers are due in the Rockhampton District Court today at the trial heard by Judge Tony Martin. A jury will be selected today and the trial could run into next week. The police officers are being supported by the Queensland Police Union and both officers will plead not guilty to the charges.

It was previously heard in the committal hearing that the officers' failure to record the meeting with the prisoner was a mere oversight. The two officers were named in the Crime and Misconduct Commission's Operation Capri last year which investigated alleged police misconduct.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

MP calls for third murder inquest

The police conclusions about this have always stunk: Too lazy to do a proper investigation

A North Queensland MP has called for a third inquest into the brutal deaths of best friends Vicki Arnold and Julie-Anne Leahy, whose bodies were found near Atherton in August 1991.

Mulgrave MP Curtis Pitt told Parliament police found Ms Leahy in the driver’s seat of her Nissan Patrol, propped up by a tightly wrapped seatbelt around her neck, bashed with a large rock, shot twice in the head and with her throat slashed.

Beside her, Ms Arnold was sprawled across the passenger side floor, her hand resting on a sawn-off .22 gun. She had been shot in the thigh, upwards through her chin and fatally behind her right ear.

“Vicki Arnold has been written off as a murderer with no opportunity to defend herself,” Mr Curtis said. “This crime remains unsolved due to an unwillingness to acknowledge that it was virtually impossible for Vicki Arnold to have killed her friend in such strange circumstances and then take her own life.

“I believe a third inquest into this matter is warranted to make sense out of Iong-time confusion and to seek answers for a family still grieving,” Attorney-General Cameron Dick said: “I am currently taking advice on whether to direct the State Coroner to reopen an inquest.”

The article above appeared (print only) in the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" on 24 October, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Airlie beach abuse sounds the alarm over a rotten Queensland police culture

The violence dealt out by former officer Benjamin Price points to a grand-scale breakdown within our police force: "They showed no more caution than a bunch of druggies raiding a servo with a stick"

All Queensland police would have been shamed, embarrassed, humiliated and angered by videos showing former officer Benjamin Price strong-arming tiny Renee Toms and water-torturing Timothy Steele. Along with most ofthe 172,000 people who had watched the events on YouTube (as of Friday morning) they would have thought it was one of the lowest, most cowardly and disgusting displays of sadistic power-tripping they had seen.

Well, not of all of them, because the videos seemed to suggest that it was nothing much out of the ordinary at Airlie Beach police station, where officers are seen walking around the violence like you and I might step around a floor cleaner. It was very much business as usual, with a little bit of professional courtesy thrown in as one officer was seen handing Price the fire hose. There didn’t even seem to be the slightest bit of concern - let alone criminal cunning - over the fact that unsavoury events were being captured by video cameras, which they must have known about. They showed no more caution than a bunch of druggies raiding a servo with a stick.

This is the real problem for the Queensland Police Service as it deals with the backwash of a series of appalling events. That one policeman abused his authority is sad but no great surprise. But the fact that of nine police oticers on the periphery of the events that led to Price’s jailing only one, Constable Bree Sonter, did her duty as an officer and human being is shocking.

Five have quit and three are under investigation. Only Sonter has emerged with any credit, although her future in the force might not be a happy one. Throw in Price, and a failure rate of nine out of l0 is not too flash in any circumstance.

Airlie Beach is not exactly Gotham City, so this represents a failure of discipline, purpose, professionalism, process and moral courage on a grand scale. The force is justly proud of the fact that about a quarter of all complaints against officers are now made by police themselves but that cannot alter the fact that more than 50 per cent of those assigned to Airlie Beach were derelict in their duty.

If you subscribe to the rotten apple theory of policing, this barrel was pretty putrid, leaving a smell that has got right up the noses of most Queenslanders. It's not a question of police bashing. lt’s a question of squandered resources and squandered trust.

Think about it. One rogue cops gets off on brutalising people and, because of sins of omission, we lose five other trained officers and have three more under a very dark cloud. One rogue cop goes ape and all the good deeds, good policing and good reputations of thousands of others are trashed. And probably a million bucks is blown on compo for Price’s victims.

Attorney-General Cameron Dick says he is considering an appeal against the leniency of Price’s sentence because of the community outrage over the security camera footage.

They could throw away the key for all I care, but that’s not really the point. The point is that after an individual meltdown there was a collective breakdown in professionalism and process in a force that has more brass than a South American army, more regions than we have states, more districts than a red-headed kid has freckles, more inspectors and sergeants than there are bouncers at a Valley pub and more cops per capita driving desks than any other force in Australia.

Yet, it still seems to go off course with monotonous regularity, We need to know more, including just what happened to the mid-rampage reports of serious misconduct allegedly made about Price by his station oflicer.

ln a hierarchical institution, authority goes downward and responsibility goes upward. Sometimes, responsibility seems to hit a very low ceiling.

The article above by Terry Sweetman appeared (print only) in the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" on 17 October, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Inexcusable failure to prosecute accomplices of thug Queensland cop

There is plenty of precedent for the prosecution of all cops present at the attacks -- e.g. R v Dytham [1979] Q.B. 722

THE Crime and Misconduct Commission has been urged to re-investigate the Airlie Beach police bashings following the release of disturbing video footage of assaults by jailed former officer Benjamin Price.

The videos show other officers watching and in one case assisting Price during his assaults on handcuffed offenders, but the police service has said there is not enough evidence to charge them.

In a letter sent to the CMC, Queensland Council of Civil Liberties vice-president Terry O'Gorman said there were indications the police handling of the case had been "less than rigorous". "It is submitted there are a number of unaddressed issues in relation to the Airlie Beach matter, which bear an unfortunate similarity to the steps engaged in by various police in relation to the cover-up of the Palm Island affair," the letter reads.

Mr O'Gorman said there were "unsatisfactory aspects" to the Price case that warranted a thorough investigation.

"Why have criminal charges not been laid against the other officers who were present when a fire hose was shoved down the complainant's throat?" Mr O'Gorman said. "Why was Mr Price charged with the lesser offence of assault occasioning bodily harm when on the facts publicly known a charge of torture was clearly open?"

He said other senior criminal lawyers were of the opinion that under the law, the other officers who were present during the assaults could be charged. "Presence in something like that is regarded as encouragement," Mr O'Gorman said. "Secondly, the bloke who hands the police officer the hose is an alleged accomplice. That's criminal law 101."

A CMC spokeswoman said the investigation into officers who observed the assaults was "ongoing". "The CMC will be provided with a report from the QPS Ethical Standards Command. This report will outline the action the ESC is recommending against the officers," she said.

The videos posted by Queensland Police on YouTube have now been viewed by almost 200,000 people and have also been uploaded to other websites in India, New Zealand, the UK and the US.

Mr O'Gorman also criticised the "doctoring" of the footage including the lack of audio, but the CMC spokeswoman said the release of the video was a matter for the QPS.


Friday, October 15, 2010


Media Release, Peter Pyke: 13 October 2010. (Peter Pyke was a Labor member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly from 1992 to 1995, representing the district of Mount Ommaney. Prior to entering politics he served with the Queensland Police Service for 15 years, rising to the rank of Police Sergeant)

In 1994 I told then-Queensland Premier Wayne Goss that ‘politicians thought they were pretty powerful but - in our system – it was the police who had all the power’. Goss, a former-lawyer, looked blankly at me. He just didn’t understand what I was on about. As a first-time MP I had just told him that I was about to be charged by police with a number of criminal charges which I have always maintained were false, and the jury who acquitted me later seemed to agree. But I was a mere backbencher in his government and he had a huge majority so why should he care? It seemed to me he didn’t.

When Goss lost office in the next election by just one electorate – the ALP now understands that was my seat of Mount Ommaney which I had lost by a handful of votes after the coppers had smeared me beautifully in the media for fifteen months as only they can do – he may have better understood what I had told him.

The Queensland police – whose campaign slogan is the ironical ‘with honour we serve’ – changed the outcome of the 1995 Queensland election in favour of a Borbidge-led government which – happily for some – let convicted and disgraced police commissioner and junior Rat Pack member Terry Lewis out of gaol four years early. But who’s counting?

This week we have seen more of the handiwork of the Queensland coppers with the release of heavily censored CCTV footage of the bashing of handcuffed prisoners in the custody of that outstanding example of one of Queensland’s ‘finest’, former-senior constable Benjamin Thomas Price, who is shown bashing a tourist and a barmaid at the Airlie Beach police station in the state’s north.

The ex-policeman, 34, was sentenced to 27 months' jail on 11 October 2010 after pleading guilty to four counts of assault. Steele, a plasterer from NSW, suffered a broken nose, black eyes, a head wound, hearing problems, memory loss and lack of sensation in his arms and hands after his arrest in the popular Whitsundays tourist town. He told the court he was trying to break-up a fight between two mates when he was capsicum sprayed by police. It is alleged Price led the handcuffed Steele to a police car before saying "watch your head" and smashing his face into the vehicle, knocking him unconscious.

Price allegedly dragged Steele from the car outside Airlie Beach watch-house, repeatedly punched him and "kicked him with his boots" in the face, breaking his nose.

CCTV video footage from the police station shows a dazed, heavily bleeding Steele being dragged into an alley beside the watch-house. It shows the handcuffed man being punched in the head before having a fire hose jammed into his mouth, where it was held for up to 90 seconds as another officer watches.

Steele screams and groans in agony and blood can be seen sheeting down the concrete path as the policeman stands on the handcuffs, pressing his hand into the back of the man's neck, forcing his head into his lap in a brutal spine lock.

"I felt like I was going to drown," Steele told the court. "He jammed the hose into my mouth. I couldn't breathe. I was coughing and spluttering blood. It was pretty scary. It went on for a long time. I called him a pussy. He knocked me about. I was pretty dazed, I'd had a boot to my face, my nose was broken. I was choking on my own blood, I felt like I was drowning."

The vision shows other police officers standing by as Price stuffs a fire hose into his victim's mouth, nearly drowning him. The CCTV footage also shows Price hitting slightly-built barmaid Renee Tom, 21, slamming her to the floor inside the watch-house in January 2008 and pulling her to her feet by her hair.

As a former police officer who saw service as an operational trainer and academy law lecturer, I know full well that any one of the other police who observed Price’s actions could have stopped Price and even arrested him on the spot for each of his savage bashings. So what happened? Only one of the police shown in the censored footage with their faces blurred did something; it was left to courageous female trainee constable Bree Sonter to do the right thing and to complain about the incidents.

Queensland police deputy commissioner Ian Stewart told reporters on 11 October 2010 that five other officers had resigned and three more were facing potential disciplinary actions over the incidents. All of the other officers who did nothing were complicit in the offences in my opinion.

It was my honour to be sworn in under Commissioner Ray Whitrod in 1976 - Whitrod was a real police commissioner. I immediately saw service in North Queensland and soon discovered that police bashings of Aboriginal and homosexual citizens were everyday sport for far too many Queensland police. It’s easy to say, but individual police have the power to control the behaviour of their peers by stepping in and stopping offences like those committed by Price. I know, I was bashed several times in the Townsville watch-house and once out on the street by my police colleagues for intervening to stop other officers from assaulting prisoners.

As I said at the outset, each individual police officer has the power to arrest anyone, the premier, the prime minister, or another officer. With such power comes enormous responsibility.

That’s the job and that is what is required. Don’t like it? Coppers who aren’t up to it should get out of the kitchen.

Prisoners were being bashed in the custody of Queensland police in the 1970s and we now have incontrovertible evidence they are still being bashed, even under the watchful eye of CCTV. Too many police thugs are protected by their peers and deaths in police custody will continue to occur while other officers fail to serve with real honour.

Is it all bad? As someone who will bleed a little bit blue until the day I die, I like to listen to the police radio on the scanner when I am writing, or driving around. While the Queensland police are badly led by their most senior officers whom I wouldn’t feed, I can report that many of the uniformed officers who undertake first-response operational duties do an excellent job. It is with pride that I can report hearing more often than not in the voices of police on the scanner their obvious humanity and concern for children, young people, battered women, the homeless and the elderly, and I commonly hear police going to great lengths to ensure that everything possible is done for people who need police assistance.

No, it’s not all bad.

If there is a hero in this sad story it is Constable Bree Sonter who did serve Queenslanders with honour.

I call on the Queensland Government to appropriately honour this young woman with the highest police award.

Author: Peter Pyke, 0427 388 598,

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Report on police bash-artist 'ignored' by police HQ

POLICE have been accused of ignoring a damning report detailing the use of excessive force against an offender by former Whitsundays officer Benjamin Price. Footage of Price bashing offenders while Queensland Police officers looked on has gone global on YouTube after he was sentenced on Monday to 27 months' jail for assaults on handcuffed tourists.

The former acting officer-in-charge of Whitsundays police station, Russell Pike, claims that an "injury in custody" report involving an assault by Price – then a senior constable – against Sydney tourist Renee Toms at Airlie Beach watchhouse in January 2008 was lodged with police. "Immediately after that incident with Renee Toms in the watchhouse, both those female officers (who saw it) insisted it was an injury in custody," he said.

Mr Pike said that as a result, the relevant duty officer had been notified and had arranged for a detective to come to the station immediately. "It was an official report that requested an urgent investigation into the matter," Mr Pike said.

He said Ms Toms spoke to police before the injury in custody report was filed to the Mackay District Office. He said Ms Toms had suffered a split chin in the assault.

But a police spokesman yesterday denied the report was received. Assistant Commissioner Peter Martin, from the Ethical Standards Command, yesterday told reporters police had no knowledge of a complaint made by an officer in January 2008. In a response to a later detailed inquiry by The Courier-Mail as to whether police had received a report of an injury in custody, a spokesman said no such report had been received.

Senior police yesterday described the fallout from the case, dubbed "Queensland's Rodney King" as a nightmare.

The QPS yesterday faced allegations it had failed to take action against officers who witnessed the attacks and failed to report them and also ignored at least one other report into Price's violent behaviour.

Mr Martin said three Queensland police officers present when footage was taken of Price brutally bashing offenders were under investigation. The three officers are still working for the QPS. Mr Martin said it would be unlikely they would be charged. Mr Martin applauded first-year trainee constable Bree Sonter, who came forward in May 2008 after video footage captured Price punching and kneeing handcuffed man Timothy Steele.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cops present at bashings of tourists by fellow cop still working

They would be home free if not for the publicity

THREE police officers present when horrific footage was taken of an Airlie Beach cop brutally bashing offenders are still working in the force. The damning footage from the Whitsundays watch-house which shows officer Benjamin Price – who has since been jailed – attacking a civilian while his colleagues watched on.

Assistant Commissioner Peter Martin from the Ethical Standards Command addressed media at a press conference in Brisbane today. "There are currently at least three officers that we are looking at with respect to disciplinary matters and they are current officers," he said. "There are people depicted in the vision that are still members of the service that are subject of those investigations."

Mr Martin would not specify which officers are still members of the force and under investigation. He said the three officers being investigated for internal disciplinary matters had their faces blurred in the video footage because they matters remained "unresolved and not finalised".

Mr Martin said it would be unlikely the officers would be charged with criminal offences. [Why are they not charged with being accessories during and after the fact?]

Five officers including a sergeant, senior-constable and three constables have since resigned from the police service.

The footage was uploaded on to the Queensland Police YouTube page on Tuesday, just one day after officer Price was sentenced to 27 months jail for his assaults on handcuffed tourists.

Three complaints were made about Price including one by a victim in January 2008, then another complaint by first-year trainee constable Bree Sonter in May of the same year. The third complaint was from a victim also made in May 2008.

Mr Martin commended Constable Sonter for her actions said she was "heroic" in coming forward and making a complaint against Price.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Taxpayers fund payouts to former cop's bashing victims

ROGUE ex-cop Benjamin Thomas Price has cost taxpayers more than $1 million in secret payouts to three bashed tourist victims in a case of police brutality branded by senior officers as "one of the worst ever seen".

Former Senior Constable Price, 33, of Airlie Beach police station, yesterday pleaded guilty to three counts of assault occasioning bodily harm and one count of common assault against three victims in 2007 and 2008.

Documents obtained by The Courier-Mail reveal three victims made civil damages claims for at least six-figure compensation payouts against the Queensland Police Service – because the ex-cop is bankrupt.

His admission of guilt comes after female police whistleblower Constable Bree Sonter, yesterday hailed as a hero, broke ranks and filed a complaint against her former patrol partner two years ago.

Price was accused of punching and kneeing a handcuffed Timothy Steele before jamming a fire hose in his mouth, nearly drowning his victim on May 25, 2008. Shocking video footage from inside the Airlie Beach police station shows Price punching and kneeing a bleeding, handcuffed Timothy Steele.

In another incident, it was alleged petite barmaid Renee Toms, also handcuffed, was flung about by the hair by Price before being slammed into a desk and the floor inside the watchhouse.

His third victim, merchant banker Nicholas Le Fevre, of Sydney, claims he was king-hit and repeatedly punched in the head by Price after arguing with him. Yesterday he confirmed he was the latest to take a confidential out-of-court settlement.

Documents show Steele, a plasterer of NSW, filed a damages claim in Brisbane Supreme Court for $725,000 and is known to have signed off on a confidential agreement.

Barmaid Renee Toms, also of Sydney, yesterday confirmed her case was yet to be settled and was due to go to mediation with a compensation figure yet to be decided.

Price yesterday showed no emotion as he changed his plea to guilty and outside court refused to respond to questions about any formal apology to his victims.

But, in extraordinary claims on his Facebook page, the father-of-two protested his innocence in his latest entry. He said: "I want you to all understand that I have been forced into a corner by the QPS and the dogs that turned against me." He revealed he cut a deal with the DPP to change his plea to guilty for a reduced three-year sentence to spend a maximum 12 months in prison.

Deputy Commissioner Ian Stewart, in response to Price's guilty plea yesterday, said it was "one of the most difficult cases we've had to deal with". "We apologise to the community for this breach of trust," he said. "Certainly the behaviour is that of the worst I've seen for one single officer."

Asked by The Courier-Mail why the officers who witnessed the brutality but remained silent had not been punished, he replied they "may have received managerial guidance". [PATHETIC!!!!]


Footage shows Qld. cop bashing handcuffed tourists

POLICE have posted disturbing video footage of a Queensland officer's thuggish assaults on alleged offenders at Airlie Beach police station, a day after he was sentenced to jail over the incidents.

The first video shows the then Senior Constable Benjamin Price throwing a slightly built, handcuffed woman to the ground then pulling her up by the hair.

Another officer walks around him while the assault is going on, and does not appear to say anything - although there is no sound in the videos.

In the second, Price is out of screen for part of the video before he drags a handcuffed offender up to a wall.

There is blood over the man’s nose and mouth and another officer then hands Price a fire hose, which he shoves in the victim’s face. The assault goes on for several minutes and is difficult to watch.

Police said the videos had been made publicly available online in recognition of the public interest in the matter. Acting Commissioner Ian Stewart said there was no place for such conduct in the Queensland Police Service.

Price was yesterday sentenced in the Townsville District Court to 27 months jail after pleading guilty to four counts of serious assault. He will be eligible for parole after nine months, in July 2011.

In sentencing, Judge Stuart Durward condemned his actions as “gratuitously violent, callous and contemptible”. “Your actions were grossly excessive. You abused your authority.”


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cop protects violent thug

He was either grossly negligent or "bought". Given the record of the Qld. wallopers both are quite likely

An arrest warrant has been issued for a tow company worker and a police officer has been disciplined after an alleged assault on a businessman in a Browns Plains carpark.

The development is the latest in a string of assault claims to emerge against employees of We Tow U and associated companies. The company has come under fire in the past week for carrying out allegedly predatory practices in shopping car parks.

Police are seeking a We Tow U spotter after the businessman, 54, claimed he was accosted while taking video at Grand Plaza carpark on March 26.

Footage obtained by The Courier-Mail shows the spotter – who was employed to watch patrons as they left the premises – grabbing the businessman's camera and saying: "I'm going to smash you."

The businessman then alleged the heavily-tattooed spotter crushed his hand and told him: "You better piss off out of here, I'm going to fix you up." "He was extremely agitated, like a terrier on speed," the businessman said.

At the time he was recording an apparent lack of towing signage at the car parking space from which his daughter's car was towed the previous day. The police officer who originally took his complaint allegedly told him: "Maybe he wanted to say hello."

The police officer has since been placed under supervision. Police formally apologised to the businessman last month and reopened the case.

A We Tow U insider said employees had left the company because of disillusionment with allegedly predatory tow-away practices.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Booze to flow on at police stations

Police will continue to drink in stations as the service refuses to go “dry” despite sweeping reforms aimed at stamping out bad behaviour. Social clubs will still be allowed to serve alcohol at their bars inside police stations with the QPS having no plans to adopt drink bans already in place in most workplaces - despite warnings in its own policy documents that people don’t like police drinking in uniform.

Eleven station social clubs, including one at the police academy in Oxley, have liquor licences or liquor permits. While the police policy says barbecues involving members of the community are to be encouraged, drinking on duty is banned.

The refusal to go dry comes despite a police officer being disciplined for drinking alcohol with “questionable” civilians at a police station until 4.3Oam. On November 14 last year, Senior Constable Jefiirey Frazer took a group of acquaintances back to Caloundra police station, after a social function, the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal was told. He had intended to collect his car and alcohol and return home but once there they decided to stay and drink in the station’s social club area.

The report above appeared in the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" on 3 October 2010

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Brisbane cop who bashed handcuffed prisoners keeps his job

A POLICE officer who bashed handcuffed prisoners at a Brisbane station will be allowed to keep his job.

The Queensland Civil Administrative Tribunal has suspended the dismissal of Constable Patrick Gardiner for three years despite finding three misconduct charges against him were substantiated.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission had appealed to the tribunal after an internal police investigation dismissed two of the three charges against him, and imposed no penalty for the third.

The charges related to 11 excessive-force incidents in 2004 where Constable Gardiner was accused of slapping, throwing, kicking and punching six offenders in the Brisbane City Beat office.

On one occasion in September 2004, Constable Gardiner removed a prisoner's handcuffs and enticed him into a fight.

In the QCAT ruling, Judge Fleur Kingham found Constable Gardiner was relatively inexperienced at the time of the assaults. "It is regrettably true that police are sometimes abused and obstructed when lawfully exercising their powers," the judgment said. "Undoubtedly this occurs more frequently for those officers working at a City Beat station."

Justice Kingham said Constable Gardiner faced unacceptable behaviour from some of the complainants who were affected by alcohol, disrespectful, insulting or abusive or inciting others to "take on" the police. "It must be acknowledged that sustained exposure to such conduct has a cumulative effect."

Since being removed from the City Beat station and sent to a "more sedate suburban station" Constable Gardiner's conduct had been without reproach, said the judgment. "A consulting psychologist, who assessed and counselled Constable Gardiner in 2005, thought that move was vital for him to de-stress and review his policing practices," the judgment said.

Based on his clean record since the 2004 assaults, Justice Kingham ruled a recommendation to dismiss him from the police service should be suspended for three years.

"By the end of the operational period, it will be almost nine years since the conduct occurred; a very considerable period during which he will have had to serve at risk of bearing severe consequences for his conduct," the judgment said.

The findings will be recorded in Constable Gardiner's disciplinary history. A CMC spokeswoman said the commission respected QCAT's decision.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tribunal blasts penalty for Sunshine Coast police officer's boozy party as 'inadequate'

Cops going easy on cops, as usual

THE Queensland Police Service has been reprimanded by an independent judiciary after imposing an "inadequate" penalty on a Sunshine Coast police officer who had a party with "questionable" people at a police station.

The incident was one of four cases involving police referred to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal by the Crime and Misconduct Commission in the past year.

Senior Constable Jeffrey Frazer admitted he and several civilians went to a social function and then returned to Caloundra Police Station with alcohol on November 14, 2009 – compromising public safety and the station's security, according to QCAT documents.

The tribunal said Sen-Constable Frazer and others "consumed alcohol in the social club area of the police station until about 4.30 in the morning". "Of concern, some of these people had questionable backgrounds and the security of the police station was compromised," the QCAT documents said.

The officer's salary was cut for six months, but the CMC referred the penalty to the tribunal because of its concerns the penalty was inadequate.

The documents revealed the CMC contended the penalty "did not properly reflect the purpose of the disciplinary proceedings by not protecting the public, upholding ethical standards in the Queensland Police Service, and promoting and maintaining confidence in the Queensland Police Service". QCAT then doubled the size of the salary cut and made it effective for 12 months.

But Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson said the original sanction was "appropriate". "Matters will continue to be carefully considered based on the circumstances and penalties permitted under the QPS disciplinary process," he said.

The CMC, which argued the penalty was "disproportionate to Sen Constable Frazer's admitted improper conduct", denied it had anything to do with a corruption inquiry.

"It is not appropriate to directly link this individual case to the final phase of the CMC's investigation into allegations of police misconduct on the Gold Coast – namely this week's public hearing exploring systemic organisational issues identified by Operation Tesco," a spokeswoman said.


Friday, September 24, 2010

CMC raid on Gold Coast cop's home allegedly finds drugs

In the latest blow for Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson, a Gold Coast officer has been stood down following a Crime and Misconduct Commission raid on his home.

The CMC has confirmed the raid on the constable's house at Burleigh Waters on Wednesday night, in which a quantity of drugs was allegedly found.

A CMC spokeswoman said the raid was not linked to Operation Tesco - the investigation mounted by the commission into alleged police misconduct on the Gold Coast.

Three officers have been stood down as a result of the operation and at least one is facing criminal charges.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Six Gold Coast police officers on steroids 'for no reason'

"Roid rage" behind some police violence?

Six Gold Coast police were found to be using anabolic steroids for no medical reason, the Crime and Misconduct Commission inquiry has been told. The Gold Coast's top cop, Superintendent Jim Keogh, on Tuesday told the Operation Tesco inquiry he suspected some younger officers were using steroids after complaints about excessive use of force during arrests.

Today, counsel assisting the inquiry, John Allen, questioned Queensland Police Services human resources director Patricia Jones about steroid use among police. He told the inquiry that six officers, most working in Surfers Paradise, were prescribed anabolic steroids by one doctor despite having no health problems.

Mr Allen said the officers wanted the steroids to counter tiredness, lethargy or because they 'were just wanting to be bigger'. The steroids would have been illegal if they were not given on prescription, Mr Allen said.

He said a steroid expert interviewed by the CMC said there was a tendency for non-medical users to take high doses and to sometimes mix them with black market steroids or illicit drugs, and some users could become angry and aggressive. Mr Allen suggested it might be 'of concern' that armed police might be using steroids.

Ms Jones said posters were placed in all police stations warning officers about the use of medication. She said officers suspected of being unfit for duty could be ordered to see an independent doctor.

Ms Jones said random drug testing was not carried out by the QPS but since 2005, 13,400 officers and recruits undergone 'reasonable suspicion' tests for drugs and alcohol. Only one positive drug test and four positive alcohol results had been returned, she said.

Ms Jones said random drug testing was estimated to cost about $500,000 a year and there were no plans to introduce it. "For $500,000, I could possibly employ four to five more police officers (so) the question becomes, 'what's the cost benefit?', she said.

Ms Jones said concerns about police abusing medication had to be balanced against privacy issues.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Officer-in-charge at Surfers Paradise supports culture of freebies

SURFERS Paradise's top cop saw nothing wrong with his officers receiving free drinks at nightclubs and half-price McDonald's meals. But he also called for police to be rotated through Surfers in six-month stints, Kings Cross-style, to reduce the chances of them falling victim to the party precinct's temptations.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission has raised serious conflict-of-interest concerns about police who provided "preferential treatment" to nightclubs in return for free hospitality. But the officer-in-charge of the Surfers Paradise station, Senior-Sergeant Martin Dimond, said freebies were acceptable providing police were not being compromised.

The first witness to give evidence at the CMC's Operation Tesco public hearings, Sen-Sgt Dimond was quizzed about public perceptions towards police receiving gifts and benefits. He said police had long received half-price McDonald's and other discounted meals and "the community are not concerned about it".

Sen-Sgt Dimond said he believed it was acceptable for police to receive free drinks at nightclubs as long as they were not providing favours, or getting greater benefits than the general public. He said some clubs liked to have off-duty police in their establishments to deter bikies. "I'm not aware of any public concern about that (off-duty officers receiving drinks)," Sen-Sgt Dimond told the inquiry.

However, he said senior police had ordered a ban on officers receiving nightclub hospitality in the wake of the CMC's Operation Tesco probe.

Sen-Sgt Dimond blamed some police misconduct on the fact that Surfers Paradise was a "stressful" place to work. He said Surfers police had to regularly deal with violent offenders and were often subjected to complaints. "In some situations, they (also) go home to a stressful environment and that's where problems (with misconduct) arise because there's no opportunity for them to get a break from the stress they're dealing with," he said.

Sen-Sgt Dimond said police in Sydney's Kings Cross were rotated in six-month stints and it "works very well". "They're not exposed continuously, over a number of years, to the high levels of stress," he said.

Sen-Sgt Dimond also said police numbers in Surfers Paradise needed to be doubled on Friday and Saturday nights. He said 126 police were allocated to Surfers, but an average of only 85 were available for duty, due to officers being on leave or seconded to other areas."


Police should face random drug and alcohol tests, officer tells watchdog

A Senior Gold Coast policeman has called for the introduction of random drug testing for officers and increased alcohol testing. Surfers Paradise police inspector Neil Haslam made the call today at a Crime and Misconduct Commission hearing which has heard evidence of Coast police taking and dealing drugs, drinking on duty and accepting free drinks at nightclubs.

Insp Haslam said random drug testing 'could assist' improve police behaviour and believed the frequency of random alcohol testing needed to be increased. But he rejected a suggestion from the counsel assisting the inquiry, John Allen, that police be drug-tested on every shift. "I'd say (that would be) completely impractical," he said. "Police officers are supposed to be performing their duty in the main, aren't the?. We need to get them out and about."

Insp Halman also said 'bad apples' need to be identified and weeded out while still at the police academy.

The hearing was told a former stripper and drug user had applied to join the Queensland Police Service and that one Gold Coast officer facing criminal charges had been disciplined while training at the academy.

Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson has already announced plans to toughen up recruiting standards.

Insp Haslman told the Operation Tesco hearing he believed there needed to be more rigorous vetting of police recruits. Insp Haslam said improved security checks and a 'zero tolerance ... of integrity failures' were needed to lift recruiting standards.

CMC chairman Martin Moynihan commented that 'one bad apple can have a very serious adverse affect' on the QPS.

Ins Haslam replied: "One bad apple has had a significent affect on the Gold Coast district and that's why we're here today."

Mr Moynihan later said there appeared to be 'more than two or three bad apples' among Gold Coast police.

Insp Haslam: "Mr Chairman, I'm not sure where the bad apples may be or who the bad apples may be with regard to my particular area of responsibility, but there may well be others."

The CMC has said it plans to lay charges against one current and one former officer and eight civilians. Disciplinary action against six officers is also expected to be recommended.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Gold Coast police face drugs charges

SERIOUS charges are set to be laid against 10 people, including current and former police, after allegations of Gold Coast police using drugs, associating with criminals and turning a blind eye to crimes including nightclub drug rapes. Six police are also facing disciplinary action as a result of the Crime and Misconduct Commission's Operation Tesco probe into Gold Coast police misconduct.

The first day of Operation Tesco's public hearings has heard explosive evidence of Coast police stroking the Glitter Strip's dark underbelly. In his opening address, counsel assisting the inquiry, John Allen, said Operation Tesco was sparked after eyewitness accounts of Gold Coast police taking drugs and being paid bribes by criminals for tip-offs.

Mr Allen said while the allegations were not proven, they were a 'significant trigger' for Tesco which had uncovered 'significant evidence' of police having improper associations with criminals and providing them with confidential information.

The inquiry was told drugs including 30 ecstasy pills and two bags of amphetamine were found during a raid in January this year on a Brisbane apartment where a Gold Coast police officer codenamed G7, and associates including a suspected drug supplier, were staying.

During secret hearings, officer G7 admitted to taking ecstasy, using and supply 'black market' steroids and receiving $100 drink cards at Surfers Paradise nightclubs and improperly processing bouncer licence applications. Officer G7 had also admitted to using the police computer to do criminal checks on girlfriends.

Another officer, D1, admitted to associating with drug dealers and said the receipt of free drinks was 'common knowledge' among senior police. He said Gold Coast police also received free McDonald's meals and tickets to Gold Coast Titans games.

The hearing was also told that the use of 'blue light taxis' to ferry off-duty officers, friends and family to and from nightclubs and social functions was a longstanding and accepted practice among Gold Coast police.

Mr Allen said there were reports some police whistleblowers were 'harassed, intimidated, victimised and humiliated' for co-operating with the inquiry.

He said the CMC expected to lay charges against one current and one former officer and recommend disciplinary action against a further six officers. "Criminal charges are also expected to be laid against eight civilians, most of those being in connection with serious drug offences," he said.

The hearing is set to run for five days and will continue this afternoon with the first police witnesses


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Surfers Paradise police inspector caught asleep on job

Another black mark for the Gold Coast wallopers. They seem to have no standards at all. And the police hierarchy are no better -- giving the slumbering cop no more than a slap on the wrist

A SENIOR Gold Coast police inspector has been busted for falling asleep on the job at one of Queensland's busiest stations. The inspector was on duty at the Surfers Paradise police station in May when he was spotted dozing in a room at the rear of the station.

At least one officer complained to management and the incident was subsequently investigated by the state's Ethical Standards Command. A police spokesman yesterday confirmed the officer had been disciplined and "reassigned" to other duties, but not demoted.

The embarrassing incident comes just days ahead of a Crime and Misconduct Commission Inquiry hearing into the behaviour of police officers on the Glitter Strip. Next week's CMC hearing, sparked by Operation Tesco, will examine alleged misconduct by Gold Coast officers, including drug use, accepting drinks at nightclubs and associating with known criminals.

A Surfers Paradise police officer told The Courier-Mail the dozing inspector had been witnessed by up to 30 other officers and that it was not the first time an officer had fallen asleep on the job. "I am not sure which is worse: the commissioned officer who was asleep or the others who allowed it to happen," he said. "What sort of example is this setting to junior officers if their superiors are sleeping on the job?"

The incident happened on a weekend night shift, a traditionally busy period.

The officer, who asked not to be named, said many officers simply turned a blind eye to unprofessional behaviour. "The culture of protecting wrongdoers is alive and well," he said.

A police spokesman said the incident was investigated and appropriate action was taken. "The officer concerned received managerial guidance," he said. "He remains in an operational role within the South Eastern Police Region."

Three serving, or former, Gold Coast officers have been stood down as part of the Tesco probe and at least one is facing criminal charges. Dozens of Gold Coast police have appeared at the CMC's secret "star chamber" hearings, forced to give evidence against allegedly crooked colleagues under threat of being jailed for contempt.