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.


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