Friday, March 26, 2010

Charming Queensland police footballers again

The obscene "riot" by a similar group in a Toowoomba hotel in 1989 was never energetically investigated. Nine officers were charged but none convicted. So this will probably fade rapidly way also.

Note that a SERT officer is involved again. That seems to be a really weird group. Running around the streets naked was their most recent caper before this. SERT should probably be disbanded and the personnel put into desk jobs. There are certainly plenty of desk jobs in the Qld. police

THE future of police rugby league carnivals is in doubt after an embarrassing incident involving drunken officers in Kingaroy this week.

Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson is understood to be furious about the conduct of the officers and considering cancelling future carnivals.

Internal investigations are underway into the incident involving a police liaison officer from Rockhampton and a Cairns' State Emergency Response Team officer outside a fast food outlet.

The behaviour of the SERT officer who allegedly performed an obscene act on the drunk PLO was caught on CCTV footage outside the McDonald's Restaurant in Haly Street.

Other officers were seen applauding his behaviour.

The PLO was later arrested and charged with drunkenness.

Commissioner Atkinson is expected to release more details of the investigation later this morning.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sunshine Coast police officer sacked for drink-driving

An unlucky one got caught

A SUNSHINE Coast police officer has become the first in Queensland to be sacked under the Commissioner's new drink-driving policy. The 30-year-old constable recorded a blood alcohol reading of 0.235 - almost five times the legal limit - when he was stopped by police at 1am on July 19, 2009. He was off-duty and driving his own car on the Sunshine Motorway at Marcoola.

The officer was stood down from duties ahead of his court appearance in September, at which he pleaded guilty to drink driving. An Ethical Standards Command investigation was held and today he was dismissed by the Deputy Commissioner.

The new drink driving policy was introduced on July 1 last year after Commissioner Bob Atkinson became concerned about a spate of officers being caught over-the-limit while off-duty.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thug cop's $28 a week speeding penalty labelled a joke

Eaton is notorious

A SENIOR traffic officer clocked driving at 223km/h on the Bruce Highway north of Brisbane last year will have his pay docked by about $28 a week as punishment.

Senior Sergeant Bryan Eaton, the officer in charge of Pine Rivers District traffic branch, recorded the breakneck speed while chasing a motorcyclist on the night of August 22 last year. He was initially stood down from his post but was reinstated last December while a disciplinary investigation was carried out.

Assistant Commissioner Ross Barnett conducted a hearing with Sen-Sgt Eaton on March 10, and yesterday handed down his penalty - a single pay point reduction for 12 months. The punishment amounts to a loss of about $1500.

Under Queensland law, drivers caught travelling at 40km/h or more above the speed limit face a $933 fine, eight demerit points and an automatic six-month licence suspension.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission said it was yet to be notified of the decision relating to Sen-Sgt Eaton. "If we have concerns we can choose to take various courses of action," a CMC spokeswoman said. [None at all, you can bet]

In May 2003 Sen-Sgt Eaton was involved in a disastrous police pursuit near Coen in far north Queensland. Andrew Hill, 33, and Alan Toohey, 49, died when a police four-wheel-drive landed on top of their unregistered utility during the chase on dirt roads.

Despite the coroner's finding that Sen-Sgt Eaton had "driven in a dangerous manner with little regard for the safety of the occupants of the car he was chasing", he was not charged.

Relatives of the men killed in the 2003 chase said yesterday the latest decision was "typical". "To me it's just a joke. It suggests the whole disciplinary system is laughable," widow Cami Hill said. "What does it say to the average Joe out there when the police officer-in-charge can go out and do more than twice the legal speed limit and still be employed as a policeman?"

Maryanne Toohey said she was enraged by the decision. Her son Bram, 21, agreed. "If he was any ordinary person he'd be put away," said Mr Toohey, who was just 14 when his father was killed. "There seems to be one law for him and another for everyone else."

Last week, another police officer was given a notice to appear for dangerous driving following an incident on December 20, 2009.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Official lethargy in dealing with police misbehaviour

This would have been covered up completely but there were too many witnesses

It has taken 175 days for police to charge four of their own officers over a public nuisance offence. Six months after a post buck's party alleged nude romp, the case of four highly trained specialist police has finally been brought to action. But the naked cop scandal isn't over yet – a fifth officer is still waiting disciplinary action.

The Special Emergency Response Team officers were allegedly involved in a series of nude dashes through Brisbane's suburbs, around an unmarked police van when it stopped at traffic lights. The charges come after the specialist officers – who cost an extra $50,000 to train – have languished in office jobs since being stood down from operational police work following the incident.

In a statement, police announced tonight that four of the five men allegedly involved in the romp had been issued with notices to appear in Cleveland Magistrates Court after they provided a statutory declaration of their involvement in the off-duty incident. A police spokeswoman confirmed investigations into the fifth officer's involvement were still ongoing.

Opposition police spokesman Vaughn Johnson slammed the QPS for taking "absolutely too long" with its "turtle-paced" investigation. "These men should have been put back on duty straight away because they are of great value to the QPS," Mr Johnson said. "To have them sitting in an office has been a waste. "These are policing professionals who should have been told not to do it again and get back to work."

The post-bucks party shenanigans allegedly happened late Sunday, September 20 last year, following a boozy buck's cruise on Moreton Bay. The van was allegedly driven by an on-duty officer as a "blue light taxi", to pick up boozed mates and ferry them back to the Oxley Police Academy. Police said tonight all five officers embroiled in the scandal still faced QPS disciplinary process, and would continue to be stood down from duty until the court process was finalised.

The officers will appear in court on March 30.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gold Coast police are the most complained about

An inspector from Brisbane has been deployed to keep tabs on troubled Surfers Paradise police. The Courier-Mail can also reveal Gold Coast officers are the most complained about in the state, generating almost 600 complaints in the past 18 months. Figures obtained under Right To Information laws show 130 complaints related to the use of excessive force while allegations of corruption accounted for another 13 and there were nine referrals to the Crime and Misconduct Commission for investigations.

The CMC is investigating Gold Coast police over concerns that some have become too close to the nightclub scene, including possible involvement in the drug trade. About 40 officers have been subpoenaed to appear before secret hearings. Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson recently expressed concern about some officers being heavy-handed in busy nightspots such as the Gold Coast and Fortitude Valley.

Sources say the Brisbane inspector, from the Metro South police region, is deployed at the Surfers Paradise police station on Friday and Saturday nights. "He's been put there to ensure the boys (police) don't get too heavy-handed and just to generally keep tabs on things in Surfers," a source said.

Mr Atkinson said every police force had its problems. "I could never say that no Queensland police officer is corrupt and would never do anything wrong," he said. The Queensland Police Service receives about 2500 complaints a year but Mr Atkinson said the majority were spurious.

In South Brisbane, more than 220 complaints were received in 18 months, while Brisbane Central district received almost 150 in the past year. In Ipswich there was an overall increase in complaints from 2007-08 to 2008-09 (125 to 143).

Oxley District recorded 182 complaints from October 2007 to May 2009. In Wynnum District police complaints were steady at 74 in 2007-08 and 2008-09 and Pine Rivers recorded 32 complaints for 2008.

Gold Coast police in watchhouse logbook cover-up

POLICE have been caught falsifying watchhouse logbooks only hours before a prisoner died, a court has been told. A coroner's inquest yesterday heard how police failed to carry out routine prisoner checks and then fudged the logbook to cover their tracks.

Roy Barnes, 47, suffered a massive brain haemorrhage while he was being held at Southport watchhouse in February 2008 and died in hospital a few hours later.

During an inquest at Southport yesterday Inspector David Cole from the Ethical Standards Command said police had failed to record hourly prisoner inspections for "a period of several hours" before a constable noticed the error and wrote in the station logbook that the inspections had taken place. A district inspector had been due to visit the facility that day.

The constable later confessed her actions and was disciplined along with two other watchhouse officers on duty that night. "She made some entries that made it appear as though it (inspections) had been completed," said Insp Cole. Officers interviewed during the ethical standards investigation complained that the station had been short-staffed that night and they kept an eye on the prisoners via grainy CCTV footage, rather than making the physical inspections mandatory under police operational procedures.

Prisoner inspections had returned to normal well before Barnes was found lying semi-conscious on the floor of his cell. He was taken to hospital but died on February 12 from a brain haemorrhage. Insp Cole said there was no suggestion Barnes had been assaulted by police during his time in the watchhouse.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Desk police sent on road patrol bungled laws, got in the way and almost run over

DESK cops sent to patrol Queensland roads as part of a $15 million safety strategy bungled laws, impeded their workmates and were even nearly run over themselves. Official police reports obtained under Right to Information show the campaign, which paid officers overtime and penalty rates to hit the road, was a flop.

Up to 360 officers who normally work in administrative roles were rostered on for traffic operations over Easter 2009 and the 2008-09 Christmas-New Year period under the State Government's Road Safety Initiatives Package. But Operational Performance Reviews show the initiative was so unpopular that not even the extra pay could lure extra officers. In addition, the administrative officers were not familiar with traffic laws, did not know how to operate equipment and had to be supervised. "Experienced officers were less productive as they were required to supervise others," noted a review of the 2009 Easter campaign in Oxley.

"(There was a) perceived responsibility of operational traffic staff that they were required to make up the shortfalls in results," said the Pine Rivers District report. South Brisbane district noted the "inability to cater for . . . non-qualified personnel" while Central district said "upgraded training" was needed.

A lack of enthusiasm was also observed. "Many non-operational personnel are not motivated by the additional remuneration of working on public holidays or weekends," read the Logan District review.

In the Ipswich District 35 non-operational police were available for the campaign, but only 14 participated. Only four out of 27 personnel took part in North Brisbane and 22 out of 44 turned up for their shifts in South Brisbane. A Queensland Police Service spokeswoman said participation by non-operational officers was not compulsory.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said the service "needed to ensure people were properly trained for their safety and the safety of others". "The police service is obviously resorting to Band-Aid measures," Mr Leavers said

A spokesman for Police Minister Neil Roberts said the funding for the RSIP had been exhausted with extra traffic officers, motorcycles and equipment announced instead. He said it would be up to the Commissioner Bob Atkinson whether the practice of using non-operational police for traffic campaigns continued.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Gorilla cop gives very vague evidence at inquest

He doesn't remember what happened even though a guy had just died on him? One would have thought the preceding events would be seared into his brain

FORMER Palm Island policeman Chris Hurley fought back his emotions as he was asked "how Mulrunji went from a fighting, resisting man to a dead man in under 50 minutes?".

Senior-Sergeant Hurley, speaking publicly for the first time since he was acquitted of manslaughter and assault of Cameron Doomadgee in June 2007, today gave evidence in the third inquest into the nation's most controversial black death in custody.

He said he still believed he fell beside the Aboriginal father-of-one on the floor of the Palm Island watchhouse on November 19, 2004. The death led to riots a week later. "I now accept some part of my person has touched Mulrunji," Snr-Sgt Hurley told the fourth day of the inquest in Townsville.

Sen Sgt Hurley had been accused of fatally injuring Cameron Doomadgee, 36, known as Mulrunji, by "dropping a knee" into the man as he lay on the floor of the Palm Island police station, off Townsville.

The powerfully built, 203cm policeman, who had to duck to enter the courtroom, denied he ever punched or kneed the victim. In a short break, the uniformed officer stood alone at the front of the court, his eyes visibly red after a gruelling cross-examination by counsel assisting the coroner, Ralph Devlin, SC.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Evidence 'trashed' by police: Palm Island inquest hears

Police told a witness they would "come after him" over the Palm Island death in custody as they crushed his damning statement and threw it in the trash, an inquest heard yesterday. Roy Bramwell, who was inside the Palm Island police station, yesterday told the inquest he saw Senior-Sergeant Chris Hurley "kick and punch" victim Cameron Doomadgee in a watch house scuffle.

"I saw him kick him, kick him, punch him three to five times," said Mr Bramwell, who admitted drinking more than 46 cans of full-strength beer the night before the November 19, 2004 death. "I could see he was hitting him by the door, I looked up, and saw them in the reflection of a mirror. "He had his knee on him, hitting him, moving his knee, forcing himself on him."

Mr Bramwell, who has previously been discredited as a witness with too many varying, inconsistent accounts, said he had a clear view of the action by mirror. "Hurley stood up and was saying, 'do you want more, you want more'," he told the inquest. "I told police he kicked him and all that, but he (Detective Darren Robinson) crushed it and put it in the trash. He then took me and made a second statement. "They told me if I told anyone what I saw they would come after me."

Deputy Chief Magistrate Brian Hine yesterday opened the third inquest on Palm Island into arguably the nation's most controversial Aboriginal death in custody. Mr Hine is re-examining how Doomadgee, known as Mulrunji, died inside the Palm Island jail cell less than an hour after his arrest.

Doctors found the 36-year-old, slimly-built father-of-one bled to death internally, with a ruptured portal vein, four broken ribs and his liver almost cleaved in two. They said the injuries were from "a massive compressive force more akin to a car crash and most likely a protruding knee than a punch".

In a bid to clear his name, Queensland Police Union lawyers pushed for another inquiry after the heavily-built, 203cm tall officer was acquitted of manslaughter and assault in his June 2007 trial. Sen-Sgt Hurley and his partner have reportedly booked a caesarean birth of their first child for today to allow the policeman to testify at the inquest in Townsville later this week.

Palm Islander Alfred Bonner revealed six years of frustration over the high-profile case as he was cross-examined over his evidence of how Doomadgee "sung out as he was punched". "If someone punched you, you'd be singing out," he told barrister Steve Zillman, for the Police Union.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Palm Island death-in-custody case reopened

I don't think there is much doubt that the big cop dropped his knee onto the black guy while the black guy was down

FORMER Palm Island policeman Chris Hurley will be the star witness in his bid to clear his name over the Mulrunji death in custody when effectively the third inquest into the November 2004 tragedy is reopened. Deputy Chief Magistrate Brian Hine today opens the week-long inquest on Palm Island, a former Aboriginal penal colony near Townsville, to re-examine how Mulrunji Doomadgee, 36, died on the floor of a jail cell.

Senior-Sergeant Hurley, acquitted of manslaughter by an all-white jury, is set down as the last of nine witnesses to give evidence into the death that led to the 2004 Palm Island riots.

Today, three Palm Islanders will testify, as lawyers for Snr-Sgt Hurley seek to overturn findings of coroner Christine Clements that he likely caused the death with a punch.

Frail elderly witness Penny Sibley, who will appear today, has repeatedly claimed she saw the policeman strike the Aboriginal hunter in the face.

The emotion-charged inquest will be streamed live by video link out of the small Palm Island courtroom for the island's 3500-strong population. Palm Island mayor Alf Lacey said a finding of accidental death would be a slap in the face for the family and islanders in their fight for justice.

Doomadgee bled to death after a tussle with the powerfully built 201cm policeman, suffering a black eye, bruised jaw, four broken ribs and a liver cleaved in two across his spine. Doctors testified the fatal injuries were more akin to those found in a car crash and most likely caused by a knee to the abdomen than a punch.

Sen-Sgt Hurley, in his trial, changed his evidence and admitted he caused the death in a complicated fall in arresting the heavily intoxicated indigenous man on a public nuisance charge. He wants the coroner's 2006 findings set aside in his fight for innocence backed by the Queensland Police Union and fellow police officers who threatened to march on Parliament in support of their besieged colleague.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission, which has indicated their report will be scathing, are yet to release findings into the botched handling of the initial police investigation.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Must not call a Queensland cop "useless"

I'll say it now: Queensland cops are useless MOST of the time -- in my experience -- uselessness that extends to the level of negligence, in fact. And I would be delighted to defend that claim in court

A NEW Zealand tourist who called a Brisbane policeman "useless" for failing to give him directions has spent a night in jail. Engineer Paul O'Reilly, 24, told The Courier-Mail he was desperate to find his way to his brother's Sunshine Coast home after becoming separated from his sibling at last Saturday's Future Music Festival, at Doomben Racecourse.

O'Reilly, who had no money or a mobile phone, said he approached a police sergeant for help and was told to "go north." O'Reilly, unhappy with the officer's assistance, or lack thereof, called him one of the most "useless police in the world."

O'Reilly attempted to plead guilty in the Brisbane Magistrate's Court on Monday to one count of being a public nuisance. Police prosecutors told the court O'Reilly's offence was committed when he told the arresting officer: "You're the most useless police in the world. I need to get home, I come from New Zealand."

The case was adjourned after magistrate John Costello told O'Reilly he thought his behaviour did not meet the standard required to prove the charge and should get legal advice. Mr Costello appeared to be still of a similar mind today when O'Reilly returned to court and his lawyer, Kate McArthur, asked the charge be struck out entirely.

Prosecutor Karen Friedrichs said the matter had been referred to her superiors for consideration, but she was under instructions to persist with prosecuting the matter regardless. She said it was alleged O'Reilly was persistent and abusive, although he never uttered any expletives, and as such an offence had actually been committed.

Ms McArthur said her client was returning to New Zealand this weekend and wanted to resolve the issue before then.

O'Reilly only entered a plea of guilty after Mr Costello indicated that in light of the facts he had no intention of doing anything other than admonish him and impose no other penalty.

Outside court, O'Reilly said the experience had ruined a much anticipated holiday and lowered his opinion of "Australian" police. "In New Zealand we are taught to trust and respect police and seek them out for help when we are in trouble," he said.

"That is why I approached the policeman and asked for his help. I won't ever do that again -- if I am in Australia."

O'Reilly, who comes from the small New Zealand town of Otorohanga, Waikato, said he expected police, like they were in his home town, would afford the same level of respect to members of the public as they themselves rightly expected of the public.

He said while he had found regular Queenslanders to be warm, delightful people, he could not say the same for the state's law enforcers.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Even the police boss thinks a lot of his cops are goons

POLICE Commissioner Bob Atkinson has voiced concerns police may be getting too heavy-handed in dealings with people in southeast Queensland hot spots.

In a surprise admission by Queensland's top cop, Mr Atkinson said his concerns over use of force was one of the issues he wanted to address – after his contract was extended for three years. "I worry that in some of our places like the City and Valley and Surfers Paradise where (police) are regularly dealing with large numbers of people who are intoxicated and can be violent, some of our people are perhaps becoming a bit desensitised in terms of the way they handle people," he said.

"I do think we need to improve the way we engage with the public. We're not talking about large numbers but I think that's an important issue for us."

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said he had discussed the problem with the commissioner and had offered to work with the QPS to introduce strategies to assist officers. "It should be remembered, that these officers deal with an extremely high volume of offenders and are often out-numbered due to low levels of staffing," he said.

"It is clear that where physical and verbal conflict is common place, humans can become less aware of the impact of their own actions and police are only human in this regard."

Mr Atkinson said part of the problem was the increasing level of aggression towards police, generally by people using amphetamines. "The characteristics of amphetamines are they make people aggressive, angry, very alert and in some cases extraordinarily physically strong," he said. "We are seeing over and over again behaviour we believe, without question, is consistent with amphetamine use."

The Commissioner named ethical standards, slippage and "client service standards" as other areas of concern for him. He admitted allegations of serious corruption among some police on the Gold Coast had taken their toll on morale.

The three-year extension to his contract will make Mr Atkinson Queensland's second-longest serving police commissioner after D. T. Sandler in the 19th century. Mr Atkinson said he was confident he had the support of the vast majority of officers. "If I didn't think so, I would walk away immediately."

President of the Commissioned Police Officers Association, Detective Superintendent Tony Cross, said Mr Atkinson had led the service through some difficult times. "We're confident he'll do the same again," he said.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Drunken dickless Tracy

A JUNIOR police constable has been stood down after allegedly driving with more than twice the legal blood alcohol limit on Saturday.

The first-year constable from Metropolitan North Region was stopped at Bellbowrie, in Brisbane's west, for a random breath test.

Police said the woman blew 0.109. She has been stood down and will face Brisbane Magistrates Court on March 30.

Officers convicted of drink-driving can be dismissed under new policy introduced last year.