Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Dodgy Qld. cop caught out pocketing the loot in drug raid
DRUG criminals have enlisted the state's corruption watchdog to unmask a police officer they claim stole cash during a raid.
The Courier-Mail understands CCTV footage used by the alleged criminals shows the officer pocketing wads of $50 notes during a raid on their premises.
The revelation comes as incoming police commissioner Ian Stewart, whose appointment was announced yesterday, promised to get tough on rogue cops. He could walk into the job facing a fresh scandal more at home in the pre-Fitzgerald era.
The Crime and Misconduct Commission was contacted by a lawyer acting for the accused drug traffickers, who alleged they had footage of the police raid from a surveillance system hidden inside the alleged drug house.
The Courier-Mail understands footage obtained by the CMC allegedly shows the Brisbane-based detective putting wads of folded $50 notes in his pocket after executing a search warrant in raids in the state's southeast.
The highly regarded drug squad officer is allegedly captured on video stealing about $1500 in cash from the accused drug syndicate.
It is alleged the detective can then be seen in the footage calling another colleague into the room before they formally count out the remaining money as proceeds of crime.
The veteran of numerous top-level police operations is on leave from the Queensland Police Service. He is yet to be formally interviewed or charged.
As soon as the CMC was notified of the hidden video surveillance footage showing the alleged police corruption, it ordered covert surveillance on the officer including phone taps.
The secret CMC probe has spent several weeks investigating if the alleged corrupt behaviour was widespread or systemic.
Once senior police became aware of the officer's alleged action and the reported existence of the video footage, captured on one of two surveillance systems hidden in the raided building, they also reported the matter to the CMC. It is understood the officer found one of the systems but not the other before he allegedly pocketed the cash.
The CMC has executed search warrants on the detective's home and his police office in the Brisbane drug squad headquarters.
High-ranking police officers, aware of the CMC investigation, yesterday told The Courier-Mail the officer accused of stealing the drug money had a reputation as a "good operator" and "top-class policeman".
They said they were "shocked" and "deeply surprised" by the allegation of a "rogue" in the ranks. But they dismissed the possibility of any systemic problems within the drug squad.
Lawyers working on the case say there is "no more invasive act" than a police officer "kicking a door in, with a search warrant, and then stealing from the criminals". "You can't be a cop and be a crook at the same time," they said.
The Queensland Police Union is aware of the CMC investigation and is known to be supporting the officer and his family.
If found guilty, the officer faces a possible jail term of up to two years.
In a statement, the QPS said the "Ethical Standards Command is investigating an allegation of improper conduct involving property.
"The investigation will be overviewed by the CMC. "As it is an ongoing investigation, no further information can be provided at this time."