Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Public trust hit by spate of rogue police officers

Only a nong would trust the Qld. wallopers anyway

DISCIPLINARY problems among Gold Coast police and declining public trust have been exposed in internal briefings obtained by The Courier-Mail.

Thirty Gold Coast officers were subject to internal disciplinary hearings in 2010-11 as part of a crackdown that followed a rise in complaints.

One officer was dismissed after being investigated for "stealing from a social club". Eight others, probed for a range of more serious offences including fraud, perjury, supplying drugs, sexual misconduct with a witness and forgery, resigned.

A further four officers were stood down and two suspended. Five of the matters were dealt with by the courts.

Twelve other officers were fined, demoted or reprimanded for discipline breaches, including using a police vehicle to buy alcohol and falsifying rosters, according to documents obtained under the Right To Information laws.

The Crime and Misconduct Commission's widely publicised Operation Tesco corruption probe into Gold Coast police in June mentioned just three unnamed officers.

The investigations came amid a rising trend in complaints about Gold Coast officers, who since 2007 have attracted complaints at twice the rate as the QPS as a whole.

The Courier-Mail revealed in August that more than 20 QPS officers had quit in the previous 18 months, after being investigated over serious incidents, from corruption and favouritism to sexual misconduct and inappropriate behaviour.

Revelations of misconduct appear to have eroded public trust in police. Surveys conducted for the QPS show that statewide in 2010-11, seven out of 10 people agreed with the proposition "most police are honest", down from eight out of 10 in 2007-08. Only six out of 10 people surveyed on the Gold Coast agreed.

A Queensland Police Union spokesman said public perceptions of police were no different to those for other public servants, including politicians. "There's no doubt that in all areas of public service there is increasing cynicism," he said.

Gold Coast district chief Supt Paul Ziebarth told top brass earlier this year that assaults and use of excessive force by officers were continuing concerns but there had been a drop in complaints. Supt Ziebarth said a "lack of practical discipline investigation skills" was holding up reports on bad behaviour so he planned more training.

Ethical Standards Command identified nine officers as being "at risk" and they were given counselling and performance management. One constable was transferred away from a "high risk" location.

Complaints substantiated against police in the Gold Coast district more than doubled, from less than one in every 20 complaints in the second half of 2009 to more than one in 10 a year later.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gold Coast cop fined over bikie's death

Speeding doesn't deserve the death penalty

A GOLD Coast policeman has been fined more than $13,000 for misconduct relating to the death of a bikie during a high-speed police chase.

Senior-Constable Stephen Chapman was originally fined $400 in February by Police Assistant Commissioner Paul Wilson but the Crime and Misconduct Commission stepped in and lodged an appeal.

Yesterday the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal found the original penalty was "manifestly inadequate" and ordered Sen-Const Chapman to pay the fine off at $128 a week for the next two years.

The misconduct relates to a pursuit involving Craig Robert Shepherd, 26, a member of the Odins Warriors motorcycle gang, who died after his bike hit a rock wall on a tight bend at Beechmont Rd on June 16, 2006. His passenger suffered permanent brain damage when the bike landed on top of her.

A coronial inquest in 2008 found that moments before the crash, Mr Shepherd was being pursued by a police car being driven by Sen-Constable Chapman at speeds of up to 160km/h.

Police Assistant Commissioner Paul Wilson had found Sen-Constable Chapman guilty of being untruthful during follow-up interviews and not complying with policies regard pursuits.

Sen-Constable Chapman, 48, had admitted contravening pursuit policies but contested the untruthfulness charge. He was fined $200 for each breach.

The CMC lodged an appeal with the tribunal on the grounds the penalty was manifestly inadequate and sought Sen Const Chapman's dismissal from the police service.

Sen-Constable Chapman and three other officers on duty the night Mr Shephard died also appealed against Mr Wilson's findings that they were untruthful in interviews by not declaring phone calls made about the incident.

While the officers were cleared of untruthfulness, in their QCAT judgment, Judicial Member James Thomas, QC, and Senior Member Richard Oliver ruled Sen-Constable Chapman's breaches were "serious" and while not serious enough to deserve his dismissal, a $200 fine was manifestly inadequate. Instead, the tribunal ordered Sen-Constable Chapman's pay be cut for two years.

"He had an exemplary record of service prior to the incident, and pleaded guilty to the only charge upon which he has been subsequently found guilty," the judgment found. "Notwithstanding this early plea, he has had the stress of five years' delay before determination.

"Taking into account all these factors, including the need to ensure that the police pursuit policy is respected, and attempting to maintain some consistency, we consider the appropriate sanction is the loss of two pay points for a period of two years."


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stupid Qld. cops think pointing an empty gun at someone is attemped murder

A DISABILITY pensioner who was charged with attempted murder after he pointed an empty gun at a former friend and pulled the trigger, pleaded guilty to the far lesser crime of common assault, today.

Robert John Anforth , 62, spent six months in custody on remand and was to face a trial today of attempting to murder Paul Asher last year.

However, prosecutor Jacob Robson told the Supreme Court in Brisbane, the Crown would no longer proceed with the attempted murder but would present another indictment charging Anforth with common assault.

Attempted murder carries a maximum sentence of life in jail while common assault has a maximum penalty of three years jail.

Mr Robson said after careful anaylsis of the evidence it was apparent the Crown would have difficulty proving Anforth had an intent to kill and it accepted Anforth was trying to scare his victim.

He said the attitude of the victim had also changed and Mr Asher had not wanted the attempted murder trial to go ahead.

After hearing submissions, Justice George Fryberg agreed it was unlikely on the evidence he had seen a reasonable jury would have convicted Anforth of attempted murder.

However, Justice Fryberg said the matter went from police charging Anforth, to magistrates court hearing where Anforth was committed to stand trial on attempted murder, to various reviews where even 10 days ago an attempted murder trial was to go ahead.

Justice Fryberg said it wasn't until Mr Robson was given the brief 10 days ago someone had looked at it and realised the problems with an attempted murder charge.

Anforth pleaded guilty to the common assault on Asher, on July 30 last year.

The court heard Asher had been staying at Anforth's rural property at Minden, west of Ipswich, for about three months but things were strained and Asher was planning to move out.

Asher was loading wood onto a ute at the property when he saw Anforth who pulled a handgun out of his short pointed it at Asher and pulled the trigger. The gun was unloaded at that time.

The court heard Asher took cover and then heard a shot. He started running and heard another shot before fleeing to a nearby shop where he called police.

Mr Robson said the common assault had been the pointing of the unloaded gun at Mr Asher and it was compunded by the actual shots which were not directed at Mr Asher.

Barrister Sea Seaholme, for Anforth, said the Crown always faced problems with proving his client intended to injure Mr Asher and the two later shots had been fired in the air.

Justice Fryberg said it was a serious example of common assault as Anforth had terrorised his victim. But he said after taking into account the time already spent in custody and the guilty plea he would sentence Anforth to a wholly suspended 27 months jail.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Police inspector stood down over leaving can of dog food on desk

The very idea that revelations of police misbehaviour are wrong is deeply offensive to the community

A CAN of dog food has landed a police inspector in hot water after allegations of inappropriate office behaviour.

The inspector from the Ethical Standards Command allegedly had a disagreement with a co-worker and afterwards left a can of dog food on the person's desk as an insult.

The 44-year-old inspector has been stood down from his position and reassigned to a non-operational area at Police Headquarters until an investigation into his alleged behaviour wraps up.

Queensland Police released a statement saying they expect all officers to perform their duties ethically and professionally.

Calling someone a dog is said to be the worst thing a police officer can call a co-worker because it means they are a snitch or have “dobbed” on them for doing something.