One constable who was formerly a policeman in another commonwealth country (we're protecting you, mate) did make some observations which we believe are worth pursing, however and we've included them below.
1. Management techniques used in business for cost reduction are inappropriate for Police Departments. While the key tenant of democracy is EQUALITY, police and the public are inherently unequal. The police have the ability to compel compliance with their directives, even if they are unfair or illegal. And to do so they can use coercion, including deadly force. Police officers need direct, immediate, and continual supervision at a level that allows the immediate supervisor to learn their strengths, weaknesses, and identify the rogue and the dangerous.
We don't see anything that gets more first-line supervision in place, and in fact the plans to strip mid-level supervisors may be counterproductive.
In his knee-jerk defence of the plans Gavin "Don't Rape Me" King said on the radio yesterday that "the changes will result in a "flatter management system". He said this even though he clearly couldn't answer questions about the plan - the "flatter management" argument was obviously sent thru the LNP ranks via talking points.
But this isn't a business, this is the POLICE. There is need for HIGHER levels of management, as well as MORE levels of management to watch the others. The knee-jerk response by King and the LNP is stupidly and dangerously WRONG. What's being done will WEAKEN internal accountability, result in more corruption, and worse case will result in the death and injury of MORE police officers and MORE of the public. Those are the facts, not hysteria.
King then added the additional factoid: "more police on the street". I don't want more police on the street who are unsupervised and poorly trained. This is false economy.
2. Larger management districts with Cairns being run from Townsville is wrong on several levels. Firstly, the trend around the world in democratic countries is for more LOCAL control and direction of the police, not less. In the United States, Canada, and other places police are employed and reportable to LOCAL authorities, city councils. Ever wonder why when issues are deteriorating in the Cairns CBD or other places, the police are unresponsive? Because their priorities are set from higher-ups not based in Cairns. If drunks were roaming the CBD of any similar-sized American city on a nightly basis, disrupting restaurants and the public, the Mayor would be on the phone to the Police Chief and immediately priorities would be realigned based on PUBLIC DEMAND.
But King and the LNP rolled over and let our senior management be moved further away, and in fact inserting another layer of communication between Cairns policing needs and the decision makers. And what about the Cape? Most of the communities are accessed by air, from Cairns. NOT from Townsville. When incidents in the Cape demand more policing immediately, where are they going to come from? This is absurd in the extreme.
As we currently operate, the revolving door of police in-and-out of Queensland communities makes the whole system far less productive than when an officer spends his whole career serving the people of one community. AS IS COMMON AROUND THE WORLD. A constable recruited from the community has a built-in rapport with his peers, knows the back streets and hiding places, and knows who the bad guys are. Instead we have constables moved from place to place, along with their management, who use us as a stepping-stool in their careers instead of serving OUR community. This makes them all beholden to Brisbane, not to us. A major shortcoming unfixed by Joh Bjelke Newman.
And with local police to ensure civil rights are maintained, American & Canadian states have STATE POLICE, a smaller force with wholly different management that can investigate police corruption, as well as patrolling of state highways and other functions that should NOT be done by local police.
3. The lack of transparency in police matters is appalling. While it has gotten marginally better in Cairns with the LNP, with some better local reporting of crime available from the QPS, the operations of the QPS service itself are becoming MORE secret. Take the issue of police numbers in Cairns. This is a "state secret" and even constables on the street are forbidden from talking about it, or speculating on it. King keeps telling us "we got three more new police", however these have been new officers who are not 100% productive for 2-3 years. And we occasionally are told of those leaving when it makes news - the recent reports of two "resignations" for some unnamed sexual issue, as well as the washouts from the new recruits. We have NO IDEA how many police are in Cairns, or EVER have been in Cairns. This is a major shortcoming that needs to be fixed. And in Brisbane and coming soon to Cairns is the replacement of analog police radios with digital. This keeps the crims from listening in, but it also keeps the press and majority of the non-criminal public from keeping an eye on our neighbourhoods and police.
4. Automation and paperwork is a major shortcoming in the QPS that looks to be unaddressed in the restructuring. They've claimed 200 are being pulled out of the office, but who's then going to do the increased paperwork? Police all over the state are still preparing crime incident reports like it's 1980 instead of embracing a myriad of 21st Century tools. The LNP is likely gunshy of repeating the Beattie/Bligh payroll system debacle. But crime prosecutions rely on voluminous amounts of paperwork. A restructure without addressing this mess is a road to hell.
What's missing from this restructuring is even more sad. The big changes that have occurred around the world are the implementation of what's called "Community Policing". It fills in the gap between Neighbourhood Watch groups and the police on the front line, and makes all of the more effective and pro-active - making the police and the public PARTNERS rather than ADVERSARIES.
We welcome your comments.