President's Message March 2017

PENDING RETIREMENT OF POLICE COMMISSIONER

Your Association acknowledges the long and distinguished career of Andrew Scipione AO, APM, including his 10-year tenure as NSW Police Commissioner.

This period was marked by some very difficult times as we faced the worst situation of all; that of losing our colleagues. Our fallen comrades killed on duty included four members and one civilian employee.

It’s at these times the strength of the police family is fortified, as we rally together to support the family and loved ones and fellow officers impacted by this tragic loss.

The Commissioner’s unwavering support during such tragic circumstances will always be remembered.

On behalf of the PANSW and our members, I wish the Commissioner and his family all the very best for the future.

LECC CHIEF COMMISSIONER APPOINTED

Your Association welcomed the appointment of Supreme Court Judge, Michael Adams as the inaugural Chief Commissioner of the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC).

We look forward to working with Justice Adams in his new role as Chief Commissioner and will continue to work with the NSW Government and key stakeholders to ensure the right foundations are established for a robust oversight body, which abides by a clear and transparent process.

We have consistently fought for a fair police oversight system, one that is effective but ensures police officers are afforded procedural fairness and natural justice.

Following a lengthy consultation process and campaign, we secured a fair, streamlined police oversight system.

Delivering a single oversight body is a significant result for all police officers across the state.

The LECC must begin with a new culture of professionalism, fairness, and respect for lawful procedures and the truth. This will only be achieved with a clean slate, meaning that staff from the PIC and Police Division of the Office of the Ombudsman are not employed by the LECC.

ASSAULTS ON POLICE

Violence against police as they carry out their duties has increased as seen in a recent spate of incidents. What is really troubling is the confrontational nature of offenders who have no qualms about attacking police officers and will happily fight when flight is no longer an option.

There is also a new breed of young offender with no fear of authority as witnessed in Mt Druitt earlier in the year.

Police officers were verbally abused by a crowd as they arrested a 17-yearold girl who allegedly threw a trolley at a Mount Druitt store and threatened to kill a retail worker.

Video shows the officers being surrounded by an angry crowd as onlookers demanded the girl’s release. One man was subdued with capsicum spray and arrested as the crowd became angrier and the officers were branded “f___ing racist”.

Both offenders were charged with multiple offences including stalking and intimidating, two counts of assaulting an officer, and breach of bail. The man was charged with wilfully obstructing an officer.

Officers did everything right to bring a violent offender into custody and accusations of racism were absurd.

A violent arrest never looks good on film and people are quick to judge even as events are unfolding.

Police only ever have the safety of the community in mind and shouldn’t be blamed for doing their jobs — but there seems to be more sympathy for the criminals.

COPPING FLACK

Police are under increasing scrutiny; our actions second-guessed before being subjected to criminal and/or disciplinary proceedings.

We know what it’s like to be involved in horrific, adrenaline-fuelled events when life-and-death decisions have to be made in a split-second.

On top of this is the stress placed on officers by ill-informed, armchair experts often inhabiting the anonymous world of social media and quick with their crystal ball commentary and hindsight observations, or those watching from the sidelines with a mobile phone camera and ready to point the finger.

This occurred during and in the aftermath of the horrific Melbourne mall attack where victims included a baby boy aged just three months.

We can only imagine how our police brothers and sisters in Victoria felt, their distress compounded by policy leaving them hamstrung.

If the assaults and scrutiny aren’t enough, the court system is failing to protect police and the community.

It seems that the lax Victorian bail processes have allowed offenders to escape any real punishment and walk free from court without a conviction.

Police officers should feel confident that the system will protect them especially in the heat of the moment. Every time we’re criticised, justly or unjustly, we can become more and more risk averse.

 

Scott Weber

President

 

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