Third police officer charged over watch house capsicum spray

johnboy 2 May 2007 24

The ABC is is reporting that a *THIRD* police officer has been charged “over alleged assaults at the City Watch House involving capsicum spray”.

Nothing to see here?

UPDATED: The SMH has much more on this including the names of the officers. (thanks to DavidM)


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24 Responses to Third police officer charged over watch house capsicum spray
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farq farq 10:33 pm 03 May 07

FC: Pretty much, just like you see on those ‘world worst police chases’ etc. Just one that is attached to the cops’ belt (or hat).

Smack: Weight would be an issue, it would have to be a really nice, small and tough piece of equipment.

Yogie47: Resolution of DVD quality is not required for simple ‘his word against mine’ type complaints. Anything over 640×480 would be sufficient (the sound is more important, which can be encoded at high quality in real time I might add, my mp3 player already does this!). Also I think you underestimate the amount of near real time video compression you can achieve these days, especially if the unit has a dedicated mpeg compression chip (like the DVR I want to buy!).

Once recording have been uploaded to the central server, they can be compressed again using encoding formats that are too slow to be creared real-time (Like all the DivX videos you get over torrents).

I’m sure if I did some googleing on it, I could get some figures on space required, but at a lowish quality, I know you could fit at least half a shift in a portable device (If not right now, then in a year or two the hardware required would be available, i.e. large enough flash drives). If the cars where fitted with larger storage devices, then every time a cop rides in a patrol car, they sync their recorder.

I don’t think it’s a question of IF it could be done, the question is would the people, if given the option would want this?

Also would the AFPA support it, if not why not?

yogie47 yogie47 8:49 pm 03 May 07

I’ve seen those recordings of retail and bank staff they are usually such a poor standard they are worthless. Having to record the movements and actions of all Police 24/7 would create an enormous amount of data. 1 hr of recording equals about 1 DVD. Do the math 8 DVD’s per cop, 200+ cops on shift per day, will get out of control pretty quick.

FC FC 2:37 pm 03 May 07

Blamemonkey,
I know little about the case in question. Could you enlighten us with you knowledge then??

Regardless of my knowledge of the case, the point I am making is that assualt is assault and they wouldn’t be getting charged if they were acting in accordance with the AFP procedures.

On the topic of recordings, The US police have those cameras in their cars that recording everything when those cops are out and about – Does anyone know of any problems these have created? and/or is this the type of thing you are talking about farq?

farq farq 12:34 pm 03 May 07

Anyone who works at in retail already spend their entire shift under surveillance. They are only trusted with the till. Cops are trusted with people’s liberty! Not only are the cameras used in retail to catch staff nicking from the till, but managers also review the tapes to see if staff have been slacking off.

What I am suggesting would never be monitored in that way.

In terms of privacy, the idea is if the recording is not required to substantiate the facts of a matter (brought up by either the cop or the accused) then it is deleted, having never been seen by anyone. Water cooler type conversations would be recorded, but should in theory never be reviewed.

That’s a better deal than the people already working under surveillance in retail get.

It’s would be good if police recorded all their interactions with the public (even for small stuff like tickets), it means that it’s never a case of ‘his word against mine’. People can argue the point all they like, as long as the cop does his job professionally, the recording can only serve support their actions.

If police are selectively making recordings (outside a formal interview), I assume you would have trouble discovering if a recording exists, let alone getting access to it (unless it supports a charge, then they would use it as evidence).

But if you have a complaint against a cop for unprofessional conduct, a truly dishonest one would simply deny the existence of any recordings. With this idea, the cop was required to make and keep a recording, so a complaint can be checked by reviewing the recording for that incident.

Is this too much accountability to demand from a profession given this much authority?

I take the point of cost and weight, but with enough cash a really nice small bit of kit could be developed. The data could be uploaded to a central storage system, daily or more often so the device does not need hundreds of gigs for storage. The patrol cars could even be fitted out as a sort of roving base station for the up loads (and when the car is parked back at base, it uploads the data to the central server).

teddy bear teddy bear 10:23 am 03 May 07

A thoughtful post, farq. There are privacy implications under the Privacy Act and the 10 principles that go with it. Most importantly, any information collected under privacy conditions must only be used for the purpose for which it is collected.

It would seem to me that it would protect the police as well as the “accused” if proceedings in the watch house and interview rooms were always recorded and then destroyed after a set period of time (as fingerprints of people with minor offences are supposed to be).

We now, unfortunately, live in a surveillance society and I suppose will have to get used to it. However, we shouldn’t be rushing into it. I had similar concerns with the proposed “Health and Social Services Access Card” turning into a de-facto “Australia Card” and felt strongly enough to provide a submission to the Senate Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committee on the matter.

It was interesting that that Committee (including the government members on it) felt that the Commonwealth should reconsider important aspects of that proposal insofar as it impacted on personal privacy.

Blamemonkey Blamemonkey 8:42 am 03 May 07

If I got sprayed with OC spray I would feel assaulted, but if in the course of their duties Police officers are required to use it, when presented with the options of using their gun, using their baton or using their OC spray I know which I would prefer to be on the receiving end of.

I would also like to point out that the AFP and IA are taking the case against the accused officers not the alleged “victims” please tell me this doesn’t smack of witch hunt and Arse covering

smack smack 10:41 pm 02 May 07

Farq,

Whilst it may be a good idea the cost alone would probably discount it. Also how much equipment do we expect Police to carry and still be able to do their job. A friend in the QLD Police has said that lots of officer have back problems from the current weight of the gun belt.

Seepi,

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. The first 8 times may have appeared lawful and propper. If a complaint was made on the 9th time and once reviewed, the Interal affairs may have deemed the other 8 time inappropiate. At least we know that the Police are being investigated and matters that require it are being refered to the courts.

seepi seepi 9:45 pm 02 May 07

And being charged with nine occasions of overdoing the capsicum spray – didn’t anyone notice the first 5 or 6 times?

bigred bigred 8:55 pm 02 May 07

One getting charged is unfortunate, but 3? Is this a pointer to systemic issues? The community needs to be concerned IF the resultant court cases show a reckless disregard to the duties these people have been entrusted with. I will be watching with interest.

DJ DJ 8:42 pm 02 May 07

There have always been consequences for a persons actions be they the public or police. To think otherwise is naive and narrow minded.

On 4 Corners ages ago I saw in QLD there was an Officer who wore something like what farq describes. I don’t like the idea. How many layers of accountability do there need to be. In what other profession is there such scrutiny? Would the civil libs be keen to have everything recorded? For all those who are just anti everything (including Police), before you arc up, would you accept this in your job/profession?

Should water cooler conversations be recorded? I know of some Police who record conversations on digital recorders – this has enraged some members of the public. Imagine a video camera being carried everywhere? You could point out simple traffic offences to the offender and without doubt they would still argue the point. Where does it stop?

farq farq 7:21 pm 02 May 07

And to complete my triple post (always think of more to say!), I promise not to call anyone names as long as they debate my points reasonably.

I wrote the above rant after my second glass of red-wine for the night. So it might be a little over the place.

If my argument sounds full of shit, show me why.

Tackle the point, not the man.

farq farq 7:11 pm 02 May 07

I’d like to hear Teddy_Bears’ comments on this issue.

farq farq 7:08 pm 02 May 07

It’s hard to comment on the case right now, not much information can or should be released while it’s still before the courts.

I’m glad that procedures were in place to gather the necessary evidence against this assault. My worry is that it was only detected because the watch house has security cameras (I’d be interested to know if the assault was first reported, or if internal means picked it up?).

If it was up to me, I’d deck all cops out in a ‘all-of-shift recording device’, so evidence of this sort of behavior can be gathered in situations outside the watch house.

This would be very big benefit to cops (IMHO). Vexatious and/or false complaints can be dismissed via the evidence on the recordings. Once people know cops are equipped like this, I don’t imagine anything else but a reduction in false reports (which really hurt good cops; reputations).

It would also be useful in court proceedings, allowing the court to view the entire police/suspect interactions. For good cops, this would be a great help. For naughty cops, this would force them to change their way of interacting with their ‘clients’.

Also, those people who have serious complains of un-professional conduct would be ably to apply for access to only those parts of the recordings that relate to their interactions with that cop.

I imagine these recordings would prove invaluable to the anti-corruption task forces within the AFP.

If the recording is not requested within a period of months or years, it can be deleted.

It’s would not be an attempt to spy on cops.. It’s a method of ensuring that police evidence is of the highest quality, while providing improved protection to the public from unprofessional conduct.

As I see it, this would be a win/win, both for the police and the citizens.

There is some privacy issues involved for the cops (maybe VG or ilk could enlighten us on some of the in-shift privacy issues us laymen would be unaware of, such as taking a shit, or popping to McDonalds). But In balance the amount of trust and power we give them as officers (and the accountability we demand) should be more important. Besides a lot of retail and bank employees spend their entire shift under CCTV cams, why should police be any different?

Last time I posted, I got into a flame war (pretty much with VG). As much as I found the last one stimulating, I think the tragic recent events within the AFP should prevent us from getting too vitriolic.

What do people think?

Blamemonkey Blamemonkey 4:29 pm 02 May 07

FC How much of this do you actually know about??
Do you know when the incidents occurred?
The media are reporting that AFP officers have assaulted people, but there is a lot more to the process that they haven’t revealed.

Danman Danman 4:25 pm 02 May 07

If someone is bashing their own head in on the steel poles that form a cell – to the point of them bleeding all over the place – and they are proving erratic and a danger to themselves and anyone who may go near them – what do you suggest to an officer that is untrained in this type of situation ?

Orally administer a sedative… yeahhh right….. or maybe cruel to be kind and use the pepper spray to drop them for their own good.

This situation is purely made up by me – but it goes to show there may be more than the media is reporting (at BRC at least)

Maelinar Maelinar 4:02 pm 02 May 07

VY, VG is generally silent on matters that involve the police directly.

FC FC 3:41 pm 02 May 07

“This is a witch hunt! The AFP is trying to cover their own arse by stitching up Police officers just doing their job. ”
sorry to break it to you, but unnecessarily spraying people with capsicum spray is assault and not “just doing their job”
Just because you are a police officer doesn’t give you unlimited rights to do what you want. These people are employed to enforce the law and should therefore should have serious consequences when they break it

Blamemonkey Blamemonkey 3:33 pm 02 May 07

This is a witch hunt! The AFP is trying to cover their own arse by stitching up Police officers just doing their job.

VYBerlinaV8 now_with_added grunt VYBerlinaV8 now_with_added grunt 3:22 pm 02 May 07

Where is VG on this? Been strangely silent recently.

DavidM DavidM 2:42 pm 02 May 07

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