Gold Coast Bulletin - Monday 13 November, 2006

Police defend need to pursue
Police defend need to pursue

GOLD Coast police have warned of anarchy in the streets if they are not
allowed to do their job and pursue crime suspects.

Police of various ranks and experience contacted The Gold Coast Bulletin
yesterday, angered by some media reports about a police chase on Saturday
afternoon that ended in an accident in the Southport CBD leaving three
people injured.

Police have been criticised over their handling of the incident, and the
Pedestrian Council of Australia has called for pursuits in built-up areas to
be abandoned for public safety.

An internal police investigation is under way.

The driver involved in Saturday's pursuit is still at large and police have
warned the public not to approach the 27-year-old, who is considered to be

The officers supplied their names to The Bulletin but asked they not be

"The public need to understand that we are out on the streets to protect
them and we don't chase someone without a good reason," said an experienced

"In this case we had been warned about this vehicle the day before when a
citizen rang police and told them he had seen a man brandishing a silver
pistol outside the Miami needle exchange.

"When an officer spotted this car on Saturday, both he and the police radio
operators were well aware that the people in the car were wanted for serious

Another officer said Gold Coast residents should consider what would happen
if police did not chase an armed man who later committed an armed robbery.

"OK, the gun was a replica, but it could easily have been real and what
would have happened if he shot a young shop assistant dead?" he said.

"What would the parents of that young person think about police not chasing,
and their son being killed?"

A third officer said Gold Coast police were battling a rising tide of drug
addicted, drug affected criminals who robbed and stole around the clock just
to feed their habits.

"People need to understand the crap in their society, all the breakers are
druggies and they are likely to do anything to save themselves from arrest,"
he said.

"We can't afford to pussyfoot about with them. We get these people into the
station and they laugh at us, saying we just have to put the foot down or
drive on the wrong side of the road and we know you will call off the chase.

"We need to be able to chase and capture these low-lifes when we get the
chance before they do real harm to our community, that's what our job should
be about."

Last month while launching a trial of the police service's safe driving
policy, Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson said its objective was to find the
right balance between enforcing the law and public safety.

"We ask our officers before commencing and throughout a pursuit to weigh up
the seriousness of the offence and the benefits of any pursuit against the
risk to themselves, the public and the offender," he said.

Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman Harold Scruby said any chase in a
built-up area was too risky.

"There is too much potential for harm, particularly to pedestrians in an
area like that, especially in the middle of a Saturday afternoon," he said.

"I know the police are damned if they do and damned if they don't.

"I sympathise with (the police's) predicament, but in that type of area the
risk is very high.

"Having someone killed or badly hurt is not worth the risk."
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