Australia: Bully cops should remain on the force, NSW police watchdog finds

New South Wales police officers are increasingly acting as 'a law unto themselves' with an ever-increasing number of reports emerging of officers engaging in serious misconduct.

Bullies in blue uniforms

A recent inquiry by the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission (LECC) has found that two officers racially abused two Afghan women they stopped on suspicion of not wearing their seatbelts in Western Sydney earlier this year.

The LECC has released its final report into the incident, as well as the video footage taken from police body cameras worn by officers at the time.

The footage shows one officer telling the driver she is "the most stupidest (sic) person I've met as the driver of a motor vehicle". He then demands that the driver, as well as her passenger (her stepmother) produce identification, in circumstances where the officer has no power whatsoever to demand the passenger's id. When the officer is told the older woman recently arrived on a temporary visa, the officer threatens to put her in prison.

At times, the two women appear confused and after asking what's happening, the officer says:

"Don't argue with me love or you'll be going back in the paddy wagon as accessory to bloody murder."

Threats and intimidation

The LECC found the same officer later threatened the woman with unrelated charges and made offensive comments after the camera was switched off. The officer's partner revealed a number of additional details during the inquiry, including that this was the usual way the first officer conducted himself during traffic stops.

The driver alleged in her complaint that the officers accused her having drugs in the car and that if police had pulled the women over in Afghanistan under the same circumstances, they would have been shot from behind.

The LECC ultimately determined that the first officer had used "intimidating and abusive language" towards the women and deliberately "bullied and frightened them".

Racial prejudice

The watchdog further found that the officer's conduct was "partially motivated by, and exhibited racial prejudice".

The second officer was also found to have engaged in misconduct, with the Commission concluding he had "sought to intimidate" the driver by aggressively asking her religion and "making baseless threats" to both women about being taken into custody or immigration detention.

News reports have said officer one may be the controversial police officer 'Raptor 13' (his real name is Andrew Murphy) who was accused of inappropriately dealing with members of the public by harassing and bullying. This is partially based on the label 'Raptor' on one of the officers' uniforms, and by the first officer's voice.

However, the LECC has so far declined to name the officers.

'Military-style' policing

Strike Force Raptor, a special policing unit that was established after a brawl at Sydney Airport between Comancheros and Hells Angels motorcycle club members and left one man dead, has been described as a 'military-style' policing unit due to the way its officers conduct themselves with what many people feel is unwarranted targeting and harassment, and over-the-top physical force.

There is also widespread concerns that such tactics are taking over from the traditional concept of 'community policing', which seeks to build trust and cooperation between the force and the public.

Instead of police seeing their role as one which assists and serves the wider community, there are increasing reports of officers using their position to bully and intimidate members of the public.

Indeed, it its report, the LECC noted the "ripple effect" that this kind of conduct could have on members of the Afghan-Australian community, stating that:

"The people who hear of this incident are likely to form a very adverse view of police officers, and as a result, be wary of or even aggressive towards those officers with whom they come in to contact."

Recommendation

Despite the seriousness of the conduct, the LECC has recommended that the Police Commissioner consider acting under section 173 of the Police Act 1990 (NSW)– which enables the reduction of an officer's rank, grade or seniority, the deferral of salary or another form of disciplinary action other than a fine or dismissal.

The Commission did not recommend an action under section 181D of the Act, which enables removal from the force due to lack of competence or integrity, poor performance or misconduct.

And it's important to note the LECC can only make recommendations – it does not have the power to discipline officers itself. This decision can only be made by the force, which many believe essentially amounts to police policing themselves.

It's a decision which many feel sends a message that officers are able t0 remain on active duty despite engaging in serious misconduct – a message that will do little to deter others.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions