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."


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