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.