Thursday, May 05, 2022

Thoughts on an abusive cop

The Independent Police Conduct authority has today released two reports relating to the same police officer. In the first, they are found to have used excessive and unjustifiable force in the arrest of a child. In the second, they are found to have seriously assaulted a man during an unlawful arrest, then lied about it to the IPCA. The first one of course had the usual response from police, who "investigated and initially found the force used by Officer A was justified". The second, around six months later, also resulted in a police investigation, which the IPCA expressed "concerns" about. However, it seems to have got to the right place eventually:

The officer was charged with three offences. He pleaded guilty to a charge of injuring the man with reckless disregard. He applied for a discharge without conviction. On 19 October 2021, the application was declined. The officer received nine months supervision and was ordered to pay $1000 reparation to the man. The two assault charges against the man were withdrawn. The officer resigned from Police before the Court outcome was finalised.

The officer was also charged with assault in relation to a separate matter involving force used during the arrest of a 14-year-old on 18 March 2019. Those charges were later withdrawn by Police.

But while this is a good outcome - an abusive cop has been prosecuted and removed from the police, it still raises questions. Firstly, there's the obvious one about the police's reluctance to investigate and prosecute their own, even in the face of such obvious abuses of power as this. Secondly, the officer "had been a frontline Police officer for 11 years", so there's a natural question of how many times they did this before they were caught. Were there other complaints? Was there a pattern of abusive behaviour which the police overlooked (and IPCA failed to connect the dots over)? Third, in the second incident, the officer's partner's evidence "lacked credibility", suggesting they were lying to protect the abuser. Were they punished for this, or are the police happy with their officers lying to the IPCA?

Finally, this officer needs to be named. They've plead guilty to a serious assault. Normally, they would be named during the court process, but their identity is still being kept secret. And all that does is enable further abuse, allowing them to move to corrections, a foreign police force, or to the security industry. This is a person who clearly cannot be trusted to exercise power over other human beings in any way. Publicly identifying them, so that people know not to hire them, seems to be the minimum the police need to do.