Monday, February 8, 2010

Gold Coast police dress as bandits in mock pharmacy robbery

QUEENSLAND police are in trouble again, accused of dressing as bandits to stage a prank robbery, leading to a tense gunpoint stand-off with undercover detectives. The incident is under investigation in the latest setback for the Gold Coast police region already reeling from allegations of drug-related corruption. The fake robbery, which involved officers from the Coomera police station in April 2008, is the subject of an ongoing investigation from the Ethical Standards Command.

It is one of the ever-increasing number of incidents to attract the attention of the Crime and Misconduct Commission. The police service was rocked last week with allegations of drug dealing involving several Gold Coast officers - a storm that is the subject of a CMC inquiry.

Since then, allegations have emerged of a culture among some junior officers of bribery and standover tactics.

It was revealed on Saturday that two officers from the Gold Coast's liquor licensing squad were suspended for allegedly taking bribes.

The Coomera "robbery" has not been linked to any corruption inquiry but highlights a trend of officers behaving badly. An anonymous source told The Courier-Mail about the incident, which allegedly involved several uniformed officers dressing up to stage a mock after-hours hit on a Coomera pharmacy.

The officers allegedly knew the pharmacy was under surveillance by detectives trying to catch robbers targeting chemists. It is believed that when the "bandits" fled the scene empty-handed, the detectives gave chase and pulled their weapons before realising the whole ordeal had been a joke. An officer then made a formal complaint.

The Queensland Police Service and the CMC confirmed an investigation into the incident was under way, with four officers awaiting disciplinary action for their involvement. A police statement said officers from the Ethical Standards Command were finalising their investigation. A finding was likely to be announced soon.

A spokesman for the CMC, which is automatically informed of all misconduct complaints against police officers, said that the body was satisfied with the way the investigation was being carried out and would not conduct its own inquiry.


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