Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Calls for Qld. police on drug raids to wear body-mounted video cameras to limit corruption
Failure to dob crooked colleagues will also be penalized
THERE are calls to force police on drug raids to wear body-mounted video cameras after footage surfaced of a rogue detective allegedly pocketing stolen cash.
Incoming Police Commissioner Ian Stewart vowed to sack the officer - who is currently on leave while being investigated by the Crime and Misconduct Commission - if he is found guilty.
Mr Stewart went further in warning other police would face sanctions for turning a blind eye to corruption.
The Courier-Mail can reveal today that the drug squad detective sergeant at the centre of the latest scandal had been oblivious to any secret anti-graft probe until he walked in on senior officers talking about a "rogue cop" and "a rat in the ranks" after an unauthorised leak from internal affairs and the Crime and Misconduct Commission.
The officer reportedly spontaneously vomited in front of his colleagues in a physical reaction of shock.
Shortly after, the officer contacted lawyers and took leave from the QPS. He has spent the past few weeks in Belmont Private Hospital undergoing mental health assessment.
Queensland Police Union and Civil Liberties yesterday joined calls to provide officers in top-level raids with body-worn video cameras.
In July last year, officers in Townsville and Toowoomba wore the clip-on devices in a six-month trial.
Police Union President Ian Leavers said he had been calling for them to be worn as a rule rather than by exception for two years. "I know if these were used (by police) both the public and the police themselves would have complete faith in their actions," he said.
He said the union was assisting the officer, who had not been formally interviewed or charged, in the preliminary investigation.
Terry O'Gorman, President of the Australian Council for Civil Liberties, backed the calls for police video.
"Every time police kick in doors in top-level raids, they should be wearing these body cameras," said Mr O'Gorman, a criminal lawyer. "Police stealing money on drug raids was a significant problem pre-Fitzgerald and one that required police to change their procedures.
Mr Stewart sounded a warning to any police who failed to blow the whistle on corruption.
"Stealing is a criminal offence. We cannot have thieves in the Queensland Police Service," he said. "The future will show that officers not only should come forward and raise those allegations, if they don't, certainly they face very severe penalties themselves.
"Ethics is not something you can turn on and turn off. It's like being pregnant - you can't be half pregnant. You either have your ethics and credibility or you don't."
He promised a speedy investigation. "There are some minor hold-ups and that deals with the specific case and circumstances that we find ourselves in but as soon as possible this matter will be wrapped up and dealt with," he said.
Mr Stewart will take over from outgoing Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson who retires at the end of October.