Seven QLD Police Officers Stood Down in May

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/seven-queensland-police-officers-stood-down-in-may/story-fntwpug1-1227362757453

SEVEN Queensland police officers have been suspended in May — an average of almost one every three days.

The latest involves a detective stood down over allegations he inappropriately released confidential information.

The 45-year-old detective senior sergeant from the central region is subject to a disciplinary investigation into allegations he also permitted the inappropriate use of Queensland Police Service resources and inappropriately received gifts and benefits.

Earlier this week two officers were stood down, including one acquitted for a high-profile death in custody. The two are under investigation for engaging in an unauthorised pursuit and inappropriate use of force.

Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley and his partner Senior Constable Barry Wellington were involved in a dramatic car chase through Surfers Paradise on Sunday that resulted in the arrest of the alleged driver Sarah Jane Boyd, 28, and her co-accused Joel Gillard, 19.

Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley

The chase has become the subject of an ethical standards probe and the officers are also accused of driving a police vehicle in a manner likely to endanger other road users.

So far in 2015, 16 officers have been suspended, according to the official police blog, which issues alerts whenever an officer is stood down.

Eight of those suspended are from the southeast policing district.

Four officers have been suspended from the central region, while there has been one suspension in each of the northern and far northern districts, road policing command and operations support command.

The reasons for the suspensions vary.

Some involve allegations of excessive force, driving dangerously and serious discipline matters.

One senior constable allegedly maintained an inappropriate relationship with a female complainant, while another constable was stood down in relation to charges relating to a fatal traffic crash.

Confirmation has been sought from the QPS media unit regarding how many of the suspensions are ongoing.

QUEENSLAND COPS STOOD DOWN THIS YEAR:

MAY:

* Male senior constable, 49, and male senior sergeant, 47, from south eastern region for “engaging in an unauthorised pursuit, driving or causing a police motor vehicle to be driven in a manner likely to endanger other road users, and inappropriate use of force”.

* Male senior constable, 36, from central region for “serious discipline matters and criminal offences”.

* Male senior constable, 39, from south eastern region over “allegations including excessive force, wilful damage of a service vehicle and falsifying training records”.

* Male senior constable, 35, from state crime command over “allegations he maintained an inappropriate relationship with a female complainant”.

* Male constable, 24, from northern region over “allegations he drove a police service vehicle while over the prescribed alcohol limit”.

APRIL

* Female constable, 27, from south eastern region for “misconduct in relation to the submission of false and misleading information, and being untruthful to an officer investigating a disciplinary matter”.

* Male senior constable, 40, from southeastern region arrested and charged with a number of offences including possession of unlicensed weapons. He wasn’t on duty at the time.

* Male constable, 29, from road policing command appeared in court “in relation to charges of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and one charge of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing grievous bodily harm. The charges relate to a fatal traffic crash which occurred in Southern Region in May, 2014”.

* Female constable, south eastern region over “allegations that while off duty the officer has driven her private vehicle in a dangerous manner.”

MARCH

* Senior male constable, 29, from south eastern region after an “investigation relating to use of excessive force in four separate incidents between September 2014 and January 2015”.

FEBRUARY

* Two male officers, central region, suspended without pay after being charged with “multiple offences following an Ethical Standards Command investigation with overview by the Crime and Misconduct Commission”.

* Male constable, 26, from far north district over “the provision of false and misleading information to members of the Queensland Police Service”.

* 36-year-old male from operations support command facing “criminal and disciplinary allegations” as part of a Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) investigation.

JANUARY

* Male constable, 49, from south eastern region stood down after an “an investigation relating to an incident of drink driving while off-duty on January 13 and other work-related matters”.

OVERNIGHT

CHRIS Hurley, the police officer at the centre of the Palm Island death-in-custody controversy, has been stood down from duty over a wild car chase in which shots were fired.

The 47-year-old senior sergeant is one of two experienced officers stood down following the two-and-half hour pursuit of an alleged Bonnie and Clyde-style crime duo on the Gold Coast last weekend.

The action followed an internal investigation into what the Queensland Police Service said were allegations of “engaging in an unauthorised pursuit, driving or causing a police vehicle to be driven in a manner likely to endanger other road users, and inappropriate use of force”.

Officers were officially directed to stop the pursuit by superiors.

This is the latest controversial episode in the career of Senior Sergeant Hurley, who was acquitted of manslaughter in 2007 over the death in custody of Mulrunji Doomadgee on Palm Island three years earlier, which sparked a riot.

And it is the second time in six months that Sen-Sgt Hurley has been in strife, after a magistrate found in December that he had unlawfully choked a man who swore at him during a roadside arrest.

The latest case has ignited fresh debate over the contentious Queensland Police Service pursuit policy, slammed by the police union as a “no pursuit” policy.

Sen-Sgt Hurley and a male senior constable, 49, were involved in Sunday night’s pursuit of a couple who had allegedly tried to rob a Pacific Pines service station before robbing and bashing a taxi driver with a tomahawk at Helensvale.

Police opened fire on the car during the dramatic two-and-a-half-hour pursuit, during which the vehicle allegedly reached speeds of up to 160km/h and veered on to the wrong side of the road.

Police and civilian vehicles were allegedly rammed, Sen-Sgt Hurley and his colleague were injured and the tomahawk thrown out of the window of the speeding getaway car before road spikes and the police helicopter finally brought the mayhem to an end.

A 19-year-old man and his alleged 28-year-old female accomplice were charged with a string of offences over the incident including armed robbery, dangerous driving and committing acts intending to cause grievous bodily harm.

Many police are backing Sen-Sgt Hurley and his colleague over their actions.

“The pursuit policy is a complete joke,” one veteran officer said.

“Technically we can’t pursue anyone and the crims are laughing at us. It’s getting to the stage where we’ll have to send them an invitation asking if them if they’d like to come down to the station and have a talk to us.”

But another seasoned officer said the pursuit policy was needed to safeguard lives.

“You’ve got some young and inexperienced coppers on the road and it’s simply too dangerous to have them involved in high-speed pursuits, particularly when we have resources like PolAir (the police helicopter) at our disposal to track offenders,” he said.

The pursuit policy, introduced in 2011, instructs police to chase only if there is an imminent risk to life or if the offender has committed a serious crime such as murder.

Last year, Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said a review of the policy had found it should not be changed.

“What is very, very clear from the evidence is, since 2009, the Queensland Police Service has had no pursuit that has ended in a fatality,” he said.

“That is a huge change to the years before that.”

Before the policy was changed in December 2011, figures showed 19 people had died since 2000, including three collateral victims.

The police union pushed for changes to the policy, saying that offenders regularly taunted police, knowing they were able to drive off without being chased.

A spokesman said the union was “fully supporting the officers involved” in the Gold Coast pursuit.