Police Union in Victoria push for hi-tech arsenal

EVERY police car would be equipped with road spikes and cutting-edge technology to reclaim respect on Victorian roads amid claims of a dramatic drop in the force’s highway visibility.

The Sunday Herald Sun can reveal the powerful police union will also lobby for 500 more officers to combat a 33 per cent drop in the number of road policing shifts.

All police vehicles will also be capable of drug testing.

The demands are the first salvo in a political battle over law and order that could shape next November’s state election.

Police association secretary Wayne Gatt told the Sunday Herald Sun: “Community safety is a key issue in this election. Our members are the custodians of community safety and this will help them to better protect you.”

Stop sticks — tyre-deflating devices thrown in the path of vehicles during chases — would be in every police patrol vehicle.

The union also wants new technologies adopted, such as the StarChase GPS tag system, which fires a tracker onto fleeing vehicles.

New laws would indemnify police who take “reasonable action” to end a pursuit and chases co-ordinated by a central controller.

An extra 400 highway patrol police and 100 specialist road policing officers would be progressively hired over five years.

The union claims a policy, which it supports, of members working in pairs for safety has coincided with a 33 per cent drop in highway patrol shifts and a 25 per cent drop in traffic infringements.

“We’ve seen in Melbourne and around the world how vehicles can be used as a weapon of mass casualty,’’ Mr Gatt said.

“Our police need to be given the tools and the capabilities to stop it from happening again. Bollards have been installed all around our city for the sole purpose of preventing vehicular attacks.

“What we’re saying to all political parties is let’s think a step ahead of that, and give our police every possible resource to stop these crazed drivers before they make it to the bollards.

“This is not specific to acts of terrorism — it relates more commonly to pursuits.”

Every police vehicle would have capacity to conduct preliminary drug tests and police able to issue fines without the need for secondary tests.

Drugs three years ago overtook alcohol as the leading factor in road deaths — accounting for a record 58 driver and motorcycle rider deaths last year.

“Our road safety strategy in Victoria is to achieve zero road deaths on Victorian roads,” Mr Gatt said.

“We need to give our members in road policing every possible chance to save lives, providing each patrol car with the ability to conduct a preliminary drug test will help catch at-risk drivers and help drive a cultural change by enforcement, as it has done with drink driving,” he said.

New anti-terror measures would include clearer guidelines on use of lethal force, extra explosive detection dogs and a presumption against parole for people associated with terror.

Read the full Herald Sun article

WHAT WE WANT

ROAD POLICING

Extra 500 highway patrol officers over five years

Centralised service model with dedicated inspector in each division to oversee local traffic operations

DRUG TESTING

Every police car given capacity to conduct preliminary oral fluid drug tests

Officers able to issue fines and commence proceedings without need for secondary testing

Power to remove drug drivers

PURSUITS

Tyre deflation devices and suitable emerging technologies such as GPS trackers in every patrol car

Extra training for highway and road policing members in pursuit resolution

Central co-ordination of chases

Collection of data of fleeing behaviour of offenders

Laws to indemnify officers who take reasonable action to end pursuits

TERRORISM

Clearer laws about the use of lethal force to neutralise terror threats

Presumption against parole for terror offences and people associated with terror groups

Immediate protection from identifying police responding to or investigating terror offences

Extra explosive detection dog teams

Increased capacity for Critical Incident Response Team

 

Originally published in the Herald Sun by Wes Hoskins