Monday, July 2, 2012
What has happened to our Police Forces?
I once noticed in the Maitland Mercury's editorial, the heading, 'Capsicum Spray case requires careful handling'.
As an ex cop, I can attest to the effects of a well aimed burst of Oleoresin (often referred to as Capsicum) spray, when confronting those members of the public who, affected by either intoxicating liquor or drugs, or both, loudly declare their intentions of bodily harm to you, the police officer, who has been called to their location in order to quell a disturbance, usually caused by aggressive individuals or groups of rowdy youths, which these days seems to be the norm rather than the exception.
Before 1998, Oleoresin spray was not in the NSW Police arsenal and the art of subduing a violent person - especially an individual who had also armed themselves and were intent on at least putting you in hospital or making it very plain to you that you were now on the endangered species list - had to be done using your own physical strength, a car mounted baton or the last resort, your revolver.
Since its introduction, the deployment of Oleoresin Spray to front line police, has been instrumental in saving many violent persons from permanent injury or even death, and has reduced the number of injured police officers involved in these confrontations.
The Mercury editorial was chiefly concerned with the use of excessive force by the arresting officer who had sprayed a 17 year old youth, who had been handcuffed and detained in the rear cage of a police truck, and as such, was considered by a Court to be defenceless? I have been kicked by a person in a similar situation, and believe me even while handcuffed he was far from being defenceless!
Details for why the youth was sprayed was not then made available, nevertheless, it is my opinion that this youth probably got what he deserved! The area from where this individual was arrested has been a trouble spot for a very long time with vandalism and anti-social behaviour by local youth completely out of control, and it is this very public process of pilloring a police officer via the court process, who may have been injudicious with his use of force, that further inspires this type of lawlessness amongst our youth.
Since the Wood Royal commission in 1997 the NSW Police Force has become so heavily politicized that the actual role of the police in law enforcement has taken a back seat to the needs of the bureaucrats who require all their T's crossed and their I's dotted. The state government is in the habit of using spin to appease those of us who cry out for more police resources to combat the ever increasing levels of violent crime, while those officers who are over worked to the point that they are driven to make poor decisions when dealing with some offenders, are then hung out high and dry for all to see. What kind of message does this send out to those in our society who like to disobey the law?
To further exacerbate an already demoralized police force, it is now taught at the Police Academy (some call it a college) to report on your workmate if you believe he/she has done something wrong. That 'something wrong' may be anything from a personal remark made about someone to a criminal act. While I understand that any officer committing a criminal offence should be treated no differently to any other person, I baulk at the requirement to put someone on report simply because he/she may have voiced an opinion about someone, or other such trivial incidents which in regular human activity occur on a daily basis. This academically inspired expectation of every officer to become their own informant makes for a very distrustful atmosphere in any work force let alone the police force! In short, it has killed any esprit de corps and further lowered any morale that the police force had prior to this communistic doctrine being introduced after the Royal commission. Individual officers can no longer expect to be supported by the police hierarchy if they so much as have a whiff of a complaint against them. They are guilty until proven innocent and I have witnessed this time after time and have been victim myself to this very narrow and destructive thinking by so called police management.
As a result of that just mentioned, a lack of trust now envelops the force, and with the draconian oversighting measures now in place, the NSW Police Force is in crisis. Following a recent Daily Telegraph poll of 1500 serving police officers the newspaper found that one in four officers plan to leave the force within the next five years. It also found:
77 per cent of those polled say they will reconsider their positions as police officers if the government caps wage rise increases at 2.5 per cent, which is well below the inflation rate.
75 per cent of those polled also say they would move interstate to work if offered better pay and conditions.
98 per cent say that 'red tape' is getting in the way of their efforts to protect the community.
94 per cent say that policing is now more dangerous than at any previous time.
92 per cent believe there are not enough operational police to maintain proactive policing patrols, including in the City of Sydney.
And what has the state government done about this very sorry excuse for a police force?
Absolutely nothing! N.S.W. is the highest taxed state in the Commonwealth and yet we get to have a third world police force where the front line police who place their lives at risk on a daily basis are now having to constantly look over their shoulder before making some pretty tough decisions. Due to the extra stress placed on them, because of low police numbers, finding themselves constantly being overworked and often in situations where they may over- react because of that stress, and arising from any incident that has, in the vernacular of the force, 'turned to shit' they are then publicly pilloried by an all too compliant media and then hung out to dry by the very authorities who are in office to provide our protection from the very same people the police officers are being publicly pilloried for if they become too 'forceful' with those they are by circumstance, forced to arrest!
This needs to change and change quickly. The expectation of government by the people for a secure and safe environment in which we may all feel protected is not being provided and must become a priority.