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.


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