THE VICTORIA POLICE MAGAZINE
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Paw patrol IT'S LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON FOR THE DOG SQUAD'S POTENTIAL NEW RECRUIT. PLUS POLICING IN THE DIGITAL AGE > HOME INVASION CRACK DOWN > TAKING AIM WITH FIREARMS INVESTIGATION TEAMS AND MORE
Boats, buses & vans New alcohol and drug buses, divvy vans and police boats are on the way.
Crushing drug crime Police Life spent a day with the divisional response team that is making an impact on drugs in their community.
COVER: Father/son duo Kaos and Utah stay alert on the job. Photography: Shane Bell Police Life is produced by the Media & Corporate Communications Department, Victoria Police, GPO Box 913, Melbourne, 3001, Fax: 9247 5982 Online police.vic.gov.au/policelife facebook.com/victoriapolice twitter.com/victoriapolice Email email@example.com Managing Editor Cecilia Evans
Surrendering arms A new team is accelerating the rate of detecting and intercepting the circulation of illicit firearms.
Team pup and pop A K9 recruit is following his police dog dad's scent, training for the same role.
Editor Maria Carnovale Journalists Anthea Cannon Donna Magness Janae Houghton Chris Metevelis Ashlee Williams Graphic Design Fluid – fluid.com.au Subscriptions 9247 6894 ISSN 0032-2598L Crown Copyright in the state of Victoria. For permission to reprint any part of this magazine, contact the editor. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Victoria Police.
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Small Talk Behind the Badge Out and About True Crime
Our Story An emergency incident brought a senior police officer and his daughter, a qualified nurse, together at the scene of a serious vehicle crash.
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF COMMISSIONER The wait is over for the children who entered this year’s Chief Commissioner’s Colouring Competition. Judging this annual competition is always a pleasure. The high level of creativity, which included the use of colourful glitter and pom poms, made judging the competition difficult, but lots of fun. In the normally serious police setting, it was thoroughly enjoyable to meet with the competition winners at the Air Wing, which included an impressive demonstration by the Dog Squad. I understand police dogs Kelsey, Ben and Dobbin did an excellent job in recruiting a number of future police. This edition of Police Life focuses on the modernisation of Victoria Police, with a feature article on BlueConnect. We are entering an exciting time for Victoria Police, with a number of new technological capabilities being rolled out this year. This includes mobile devices that are equipped with purpose-built applications for 2
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2018
frontline police to access operational information in real time. Body-worn cameras will also be introduced, with the first cameras to be deployed to frontline members in Ballarat and Epping for family violence incidents, where capturing evidence quickly has proven vital. Police Life also features the 10 new alcohol and drug testing buses, currently under construction in Ballarat. The new fleet will comprise four large and six smaller buses, providing Victoria Police with state-of-the-art technology to remove drink and drug-affected drivers from Victoria’s roads. We know that impaired drivers are a large contributor to our road toll. As we continue our efforts to drive lives lost on the roads down, these new buses are a welcome addition to our larger fleet. Graham Ashton AM Chief Commissioner Follow CCP Ashton on Twitter at @GrahamAshtonCCP
MAKING NEWS For the latest police news visit vicpolicenews.com.au
EXPANSION ON THE HORIZON One of Victoria Police’s most recent examples of modern policing and crime prevention marked its first anniversary with plans for expansion. On New Year’s Eve 2016, the Victoria Police Monitoring and Assessment Centre (VP MAC) became operational after an event that triggered its inception almost two years earlier. Inspector Andrew Rowlands, who heads VP MAC, said an incident involving a group of youths who disrupted Moomba activities in 2015 became the catalyst to enhance real-time intelligence capability for Victoria Police, predominantly through CCTV and social media monitoring. “As it turned out these groups that disrupted Moomba had used public transport, which meant we could have headed them off at the train before they got to the city, had we been looking for it through CCTV and social media, which they used to organise their activities,” he said.
To improve Victoria Police’s capability around social media and real-time intelligence, the VP MAC was established through the Victorian Government-funded Public Safety Police Response program. VP MAC operates 24/7 with 26 staff. In its first 12 months, it generated more than 300 daily summary reports, 520 information reports and has monitored just over 1,000 events.
VP MAC VICTORIA POLICE MONITORING & ASSESSMENT CENTRE
Insp Rowlands said VP MAC was using technology to enhance public safety. “This is effectively done through a 24/7 monitored flight-deck, supervised by a senior sergeant and two intelligence analysts and offers statewide operational support through a strong focus on information sourced from social media platforms,” he said.
There are now plans to expand it beyond the Melbourne metropolitan region.
“The advantage of the MAC is that we don’t need to ‘catch-up’ because we’re across an incident as it happens.
“The expansion being considered would involve VP MAC being in four locations instead of just one, with each resourced the same and access to the same technology and the same calibre of analysts, with the ability to monitor the state, if required,” Insp Rowlands said.
“The VP MAC is not particularly interested in what citizens are doing on a routine basis, we’re interested in people who are already being sought by police because they’re either suspects, they’ve committed offences or they are disrupting public order and safety.”
“It’s a proposal at this stage and it’s linked with the acquisition of some ‘big data’ analytical tools to enable us to be alerted to an incident that can potentially be monitored through up to 20,000 CCTV feeds.”
Image Public safety technology One year on and there's talk of an expansion for VP MAC. Editorial: Chris Metevelis POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2018
SMALL TALK VOXPOP
DID YOU KNOW?
More than 550 children took part in the Chief Commissioner’s Colouring Competition. Here are a few of the stand-out responses to ‘Police keep me safe by …’
‘Trooper’ is the latest collectible at the museum gift shop, available for $25.
HOPE, 5 ½ Upwey “Staying up all night so we can sleep safely.” Horses have been used by police in Victoria since the Military Mounted Police came to the colony in 1836. OLIVER, 8 Echuca “Being protective and saving people’s lives from dying.”
RUBY, 7 Upper Ferntree Gully “Doing good stuff to make the world a better place.”
With the formation of Victoria Police in 1853, several mounted units were joined to form the Mounted Branch. A photographic exhibition depicting the important role horses have played in the police force is on at the Victoria Police Museum. Riding on Tradition: A Photographic Portrait of the Victoria Police Mounted Branch features modern and historic photographs, and is an insight into the origins of police horses over the years.
One of the horses featured in the exhibition is ex-racehorse Shadow King, dubbed Australia’s unluckiest horse. He twice ran second and third in the Melbourne Cup, including once against Phar Lap, in 1930. The Victoria Police Museum is open 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, at the Victoria Police Centre, Mezzanine Level, 637 Flinders Street, Docklands.
SECRET LIFE OF POLICE “I was a surfer for 30 years before taking up kitesurfing – and I still occasionally surf – so it was an easy transition for me. Some friends were into it, and I was having some time off work around 2006 and needed something to focus on. That’s how I got started. It’s a great activity for your physical and mental fitness.”
Read about the competition results on page 20.
Sgt Birch gets out on the water as often as he can, after work, on rest days and on holidays.
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The surf’s the limit for Geelong Crime Scene Services officer in charge Sergeant Colin Birch.
Police Life GPO Box 913 Melbourne, 3001 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
While Sgt Birch, 55, is passionate about his work, he has another passion that he indulges in when away from work – kitesurfing.
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“I’ve been kitesurfing for about 10 or 11 years,” he said.
“I live in Torquay, and the peak time for kitesurfing in Victoria is December to April, so I’m out as often as possible,” he said. “Lombok and Bali are my winter escapes and next year I’m planning to go to Maui, and then Bali, Lombok and Banda Aceh.” He thinks he’ll be keeping at it, aiming to join the 70-somethings out there who are still surfing. “If I can keep fit, I can keep going,” he said. When not solving crimes or catching waves, Sgt Birch helps make sure police retirement plans are being looked after. He’s the Victoria Police member elect director on the board of Emergency Services and State Super.
BEHIND THE BADGE
ANGELA FITZGERALD Rank: Sergeant Age: 35 Graduated: 2005 Station: Melbourne Prosecutions Unit Why did you join Victoria Police? Ever since Constable Liz spoke about policing at my primary school in Grade 6 I was interested, then when I was at university I did a forensics subject which sparked my interest again. I enjoyed my degree but it wasn’t something I was passionate about. I wanted to have a positive impact on the community. How did you become a prosecutor? It was a bit of a spur decision – I was at a crossroad in my career, deciding between becoming a detective and prosecutions, then prosecutions had a screening day the next week and everything fell into place. The training was full on. It was a nine-week intensive course with Moot Courts, which was stressful because you’re on feet in front of your peers, and up against real lawyers. It’s stressful but fun. I also met my husband through prosecutions, which was an added bonus. They’ve changed the training now so you can do a lot of it remotely; there are online tutorials that are self-paced and a two-week face-toface component, making it easier for regional and part-time police. Find out how you can join Victoria Police at policecareer.vic.gov.au
Do you need a law degree to become a police prosecutor? Some people have come in with a law degree and plenty of prosecutors are studying law. A law degree is certainly an asset but some people who didn’t get past high school are the best prosecutors, it’s not just about theory. I’m studying law at Victoria University, which recognises prosecutions as prior learning and grants subject credits accordingly. Prosecutors who have completed their degrees and are admitted to practice can apply to join the Legal Practices Group, allowing them to appear in the Supreme Court for bail applications and appeals, which would be pretty cool to do. What are some of the challenges in Prosecutions? As manager of the sex offences prosecution team I have to be mindful of the welfare of my staff and conscious of vicarious trauma. You can lose sleep over cases and there are cases that haunt you, but we are well linked in with support services. I had a matter where a four-year-old was killed because a driver failed to give way. Someone died but the correct charge was a minor offence – fail to give way. One of the difficult things is explaining to people that you can’t legally prove something and manage their expectations. What do you enjoy most? The variety – no two days are the same. You do everything from a red light camera offence to drug trafficking, it’s always mentally stimulating. When you’re able to get a good outcome for a victim, and be an advocate for them it’s satisfying, and you can help with part of their healing process. Tell us about an interesting court hearing. When I was working in Geelong Magistrates’ Court a man was sentenced to jail time for shop lifting. He was sitting in the dock but then jumped over the Perspex barrier and ran for it. I ran after him and tackled him outside court. Straight away he said “I’m so sorry”. Editorial: Anthea Cannon Photography: Andrew Henshaw POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2018
VICTORIA POLICE BY THE NUMBERS:
400 1840 257
was the year the Water Police Squad was formed by Charles Joseph La Trobe, superintendent of the Port Philip District. Turn to page 26 for more about the Water Police.
POLICE CUSTODY OFFICERS (PCOs) have been employed and deployed across the state, freeing up 50,000 police shifts. The PCO400 Program, which aimed to recruit and employ 400 PCOs to manage custody in police cells, achieved its target in December 2017.
lives were lost on Victorian roads in 2017; down from 290 in 2016.
was the number of impounded cars that were crushed from June 2015 to December 2016.
NEW ROVING CRITICAL INCIDENT RESPONSE TEAMS BEGAN PATROLLING MELBOURNEâ€™S CBD IN DECEMBER. THE TEAMS ARE FULLY KITTED UP AND DRIVING AROUND THE CBD AND INNER MELBOURNE IN MARKED AND UNMARKED VEHICLES READY TO RESPOND TO MAJOR INCIDENTS IN THE CITY.
firearms were recovered by police in February, after they were stolen during an armed robbery in Thornbury. Six men were arrested and an investigation is still underway.
Keep up with the latest police news at vicpolicenews.com.au
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2018
#KEEPYOURCOOL WAS THE HASHTAG PROMOTING PUBLIC SAFETY OVER SUMMER ACROSS THE STATE, ENCOURAGING ENJOYMENT OF THE SEASON THROUGH GOOD BEHAVIOUR.
Forty-three Eyewatch Facebook pages are now online to help local communities keep connected with police. The latest police service areas to jump online include Surf Coast, Northern Grampians, Nillumbik and Campaspe. Eyewatch pages keep followers up-to-date with community initiatives, safety and crime prevention information and general policing updates.
43 EYEWATCH FACEBOOK PAGES
Find your local page at police.vic.gov.au/eyewatch
km/h is the speed drivers must travel at when passing a stationary or slow-moving emergency services vehicle with flashing blue, red or magenta lights or sounding an alarm.
Get the latest police news at vicpolicenews.com.au vicpolicenews.com.au
SNAPPED ON SOCIAL
New Year’s Eve campaign
The first serve of Protective Services Officers (PSOs) patrolling tram and train stops day and night during the Australian Open was captured on social media.
As Victorians soaked up the sun, the Mounted Branch hit the boardwalks and beaches.
As New Year’s Eve was celebrated in style across the state, police patrolled the streets while snapping, sharing and tweeting.
The four-legged law enforcers hoofed it across Melbourne and regional areas including Lakes Entrance to help revellers celebrate safely through summer events.
Thousands of police worked throughout the night so the community could party safely.
Dorothy misses home
A mum found out the hard way that it pays to be careful about what is kept in easily-accessible drawers, especially if there are nosy youngsters about.
A life-sized doll named Dorothy was the star attraction in a robbery at an adult entertainment store in Moorabbin.
When a classic hit is playing, sometimes you can’t help but sing along – even if you’re on patrol.
A woman turned up at the Narre Warren Police Station with her five-year-old son who was all tied up, thanks to a pair of handcuffs he’d found in his dad’s drawer.
Kingston Crime Investigation Unit detectives said a stocking-covered, balaclava-clad man entered the South Road store after hours, using bolt cutters and a fire hydrant to gain access.
One police officer got into the spirit when Daryl Braithwaite performed Horses at the Australian Open in Melbourne.
He’d done such a good job of putting them on that mum couldn’t get them off and the keys were elusive.
Despite being surrounded by a variety of goods, he only chose the 168cm Dorothy, valued at $4,495.
As part of a trial of flexible PSO teams, about 30 PSOs worked in areas surrounding the Australian Open to keep commuters and tennis fans safe.
To cap off the evening, Facebook followers were treated to a video of the fireworks display in Melbourne.
ODD SPOT CORNER
His efforts were captured on Twitter, where he appeared to be lip synching, so his voice may have been a little hoarse.
Next stop? Narre Warren Police Station. Unfortunately, they couldn’t crack the cuffs, so the Country Fire Authority (CFA) was next on the list of heroes. The CFA crew called on their trusty boltcutters to free the boy, who wasn’t injured.
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2018
Policing in the digital age Victoria Police is making significant information technology improvements to connect police with information and with their communities.
Intelligence Management Solution Constable
Police Assistance Line and Online Reporting
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2018
vicpolicenews.com.au Information technology is the lifeblood of policing. The methods of access and delivery continue to evolve but remain critical for frontline police in their mission to protect communities. This began in 1923 when Victoria Police became the first police service in the world to install wireless communications in its vehicles. Now in 2018, as the organisation moves towards new milestones by delivering the latest technology, Assistant Commissioner Jack Blayney, who is leading technology reform, contemplates its significance to frontline policing. “When I first joined Victoria Police you had a baton, handcuffs, a pistol and a police car, comms (communications) were quite difficult,” he said. “You received information from the police radio and your patrol partner, and there was no such thing as computers.” AC Blayney, who heads the BlueConnect program that is delivering a raft of new information technology programs, said collectively these programs represent a significant transformation and upgrading of the systems that underpin Victoria Police operations. “The objective is to provide a connected, agile, responsive and modern police force to better serve the community,” he said. “The world now is a lot more complex, a lot more quick-moving, with a lot more challenges for police on the frontline. The need for information is critical.” BlueConnect is the driving force behind a myriad of projects to explore and develop ways to improve information and intelligence sharing between communities, police and other agencies. This represents an unprecedented transformation for Victoria Police through significant government investments initially involving three key areas - mobile technology, intelligence management and body-worn cameras. “This is just the first phase of the journey and we’re going to continue to develop and implement new technology and capabilities as we grow,” AC Blayney said. “Primarily it’s about frontline police but it’s also around what connections and technology-support should occur behind the scenes to provide frontline officers with critical information.”
Business engagement lead for BlueConnect Acting Superintendent Mark Rollo said although radio and mobile data have been key forms of operational communications, the evolution of mobile technology platforms has broadened Victoria Police’s arsenal for fighting crime.
“Police are able to understand, analyse and predict crime patterns and behaviour immediately,” A/Supt Rollo said.
“We are providing mobile devices to the frontline that are equipped with purpose-built applications for police to access operational information to get their work done more efficiently and effectively in the field,” he said.
“The information was obtained quickly from various data sources that were previously unsearchable, resulting in a man being charged and arrested.
“At the moment it could take as long as two to three days before information gets on the system, so there could be a real delay in sharing information with others on the frontline.” AC Blayney said a modern police force must be able to respond to the changing nature of crime, including increases in online offending and changing community expectations about how they engage with police. “Leveraging technology provides a key way to ensure that Victoria Police remains at the cutting-edge of policing and can deliver safe outcomes for the community and its police,” he said. A Victoria Police technology transformation program has received unprecedented investment in recent years. A/Supt Rollo said the program funded the development of mobile technology, a worldleading intelligence management solution, body-worn cameras, a Police Assistance Line (PAL) and Online Reporting (OLR), and the expansion of Automated Number Plate Recognition, each representing some current major projects. More than 10,000 tablets and mobile phones with purpose-built apps, and more than 7,000 body-worn cameras will be deployed to support frontline officers and new recruits. The first body-worn cameras will be deployed in April to frontline members in Ballarat and Epping for family violence incidents and will be evaluated before a broader rollout later this year. “Mobile devices and body-worn cameras that will allow police to capture evidence and share it quickly will improve frontline responsiveness, accountability and efficiency,” A/Supt Rollo said. “These devices will deliver digital evidence for use in prosecutions, improve member safety and reduce malicious complaints against police.” The Royal Commission into Family Violence found there is potential for body-worn cameras to be a beneficial tool in response to, and management of, family violence incidents. Just three months since the deployment of Victoria Police’s Intelligence Management Solution, the benefits are tangible.
“In one example, a person who committed a sexual assault was identified by searching a name and a location where this person would often frequent.
“It also helps with planning our task and coordination response. If we know from intelligence where there is likely to be criminal activity, we can better plan our response. “Over time, it will enable police to have a greater presence in the community, spending more time proactively policing in the field and less time being station-bound doing administrative work.” Improved connectivity between Victoria Police and the public will also be positively impacted by the PAL and OLR project. “At the moment there’s really only two ways that people can obtain a service from Victoria Police and that’s by ringing Triple Zero (000) or contacting a police station,” A/Supt Rollo said. “The PAL will have a dedicated, publicly available phone number for non-urgent reporting and the OLR will provide the public with the ability to easily, securely create and submit online reports for specific incidents and crimes without needing to attend a police station.” The PAL and OLR will be operational by 2020. AC Blayney said the transformation of Victoria Police technology would ultimately have a profound impact on policing in the future. “I see BlueConnect as the predominant mechanism for modernising Victoria Police,” he said.
Mobile tech makes quick arrest In December 2017, Transit Police responded to a call about a drunk man attempting to force entry into a house in a quiet suburban street. Upon arrival, the Transit member spoke to the man and was able to search his details in real-time using the mobile device. The search discovered there was an intervention order against him in relation to a female who had recently moved into the house next door to where he was found. He was arrested for breach of intervention order and drunk. The female was advised the man had been arrested and was reassured of her safety.
Editorial: Chris Metevelis POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2018
S E S U B NEW T S E T E H PASS T
Victoria Police pioneered random alcohol testing in Australia in 1976 and world-first roadside drug testing in 2004. Another milestone is ahead with a fleet of alcohol and drug testing buses, also known as ‘booze buses’, being built.
Assistant Commissioner Doug Fryer said the existing fleet, which is being replaced by 10 new alcohol and drug testing buses this year, reflects a fervent commitment to reduce the number of lives lost and serious collisions on Victoria’s roads. “Drink and drug-driving testing has been integral in reducing the number of lives lost over the years from more than 1,000 in the early 1970s to 257 last year, although this figure is still too high,” he said. In 1976, 950 people died on Victoria’s roads, and 450 of those had a blood alcohol concentration of over .05. Ten years later, in 2016, lives lost on the roads had fallen to 252, 26 of those had excessive alcohol in their system. AC Fryer said the design of the new buses followed a tradition of innovation that has been a hallmark of Victoria Police mobile alcohol and drug testing campaigns.
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“This investment by Victoria Police, Government and the Transport Accident Commission in committing to the fleet of 10 new buses, increasing our current fleet by two buses, sends a strong message of our very real commitment to remove impaired drivers from the road,” he said. This commitment has been firm since 1970, the year when 1,061 people died on Victoria’s roads and became the catalyst for fundamental changes in law enforcement with the introduction of compulsory wearing of seat belts and evidential breath testing. This was followed up in 1976 with the introduction of Random Breath Testing (RBT). The first RBT operations in Victoria involved police setting up testing sites with a caravan to carry out evidential breath testing on drivers that tested positive to alcohol on a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT). Road Policing Drug and Alcohol Section data indicates that 39,923 drivers were randomly tested at RBT sites in 1978 using a rudimentary testing device, also known as a ‘puff bag’. By 1983, the use of an electrochemical reaction (fuel cell) type device, the Alcotest 7310, was introduced to reduce the time taken to screen each driver at RBT sites. That same year a number of Toyota Coaster buses were purchased for use as alcohol testing vehicles at RBT sites.
The seating in these buses that became colloquially known as ‘booze buses’, was modified to accommodate drivers who returned a positive PBT result and required further breath testing.
road in March and will assist in sustaining the target of 100,000 drug tests per year, which was also achieved in the last financial year, compared to 42,000 tests in previous years.
The number of drivers randomly tested for alcohol rose from about 73,000 in 1982 to almost 230,000 in 1984, with the figure doubling by the end of the decade. Victoria Police now has an annual PBT target of 4.5 million.
Alcohol and drug testing involves a twostep process.
In 1989, the Traffic Support Group was formed and expanded its RBT operations. Its fleet was upgraded to seven buses, which were replaced in 2002, and those will soon make way for the latest vehicles. “During this period, the RBT unit was staffed by experienced personnel to supervise the operations, while newly graduated constables were being assigned for one month to carry out breath-testing of drivers as a part of their training,” AC Fryer said.
Drug testing begins with a preliminary oral fluid test with a positive result requiring a saliva sample that is sent to a laboratory for further analysis. Infringement notices are issued or a court appearance occurs after the final results are processed. Alcohol testing starts with a PBT and if it returns a positive result, is followed by evidential breath testing. Unlike drug testing, its results are determined sooner with infringement notices issued immediately.
“The high volume of testing provides these constables with hands-on experience and an appreciation of the significance of their contribution for community safety.” The new buses will have enhanced safety features to keep members safe, including internal and external closed-circuit television capability and a state-of-the-art electronic sign system on the rear of the buses. The alcohol and drug testing buses will be phased-in until March 2019. The first bus hit the
Smooth sailing for new boats A new flotilla of police boats is about to become a regular feature on Victoria’s bays, lakes and inland waterways. The two largest boats from a procurement program involving the construction of 11 new vessels will be launched this year, replacing retiring offshore vessels VP01 and VP02.
Photo courtesy of Jesse Spazza. Divvy vans drive in Police in the North West Metro Region were first to be handed keys to a new divisional van recently, which replaced the end-of-lease Holden Commodore divvy van. About 240 vans will be replaced over two years. Images Booze buses 01 Superintendent John Fitzpatrick from Road Policing Command inspected the first of the new fleet of alcohol and drug buses. 02 Random breath testing began in Victoria in 1976. 03 In 1989 random breath testing expanded and the number of buses increased to seven. Editorial: Chris Metevelis Photography: David Johns POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2018
CRACKING DOWN ON Crime A recent spate of home invasions in Melbourne’s west prompted police to take a new approach to policing, and it is paying off. After 25 home invasions in the North West Metro Region in the last half of 2017, police are fighting back, boosted by community involvement and a targeted and coordinated approach, with greater police presence on the ground and in the air. Backing up an extra 25 pairs of police boots on the ground are the Air Wing, and police dogs help pick up the trail as part of operations to focus on the problem. Operation Wayward was the investigative response set up in March 2017, and Operation Regnant is the proactive policing response to tackle crime and other antisocial behaviour. The boost to proactive policing with Regnant and Wayward has meant local forces have been able to focus on home invasions. And swiftly too, making arrests more quickly and more frequently. In July, four teenage boys broke into a house in Melton West just after midnight and stole keys to a 2014 VF Holden Commodore, using it to flee.
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But unfortunately for the young thieves, police were hot on their trail and spotted the car just 20 minutes later.
They tracked it to neighbouring Brookfield and arrested two 14-year-olds and two 17-year-olds at about 2am. Inspector Steve Cooper from the Investigation and Response Unit said the community was also working with police to keep crime under better control.
“In divisions 2 and 3, we’ve had fantastic success in reducing the rate of home invasions through dedicated investigative teams and support from other specialist units, and we will continue to make this a focus given the high community harm and need for decisive action,” he said. This concentrated and comprehensive policing response has seen a marked improvement in reducing crime rates in the area.
The North West Metro Region, which includes the busy public transport hub of Sunshine, has seen its fair share of home invasions. Sunshine and surrounds have been hotspots for crime because of the well-connected bus and train services that make it easy for people to enter and leave in all directions. The crimes are often perpetrated by young people, typically aged 14 to 19. Police from the North West Metro Region say that interestingly, the youths don’t appear to be disengaged from family, school, religious and sporting organisations, and seem to be carrying out their crimes for “kicks”. Sunshine Police Station’s Acting Sergeant Craig Mitchell said it was a focus on community policing and a more personal approach to develop trust and community engagement that has helped turn the tide on rising crime in Melbourne’s western suburbs.
Since the formation of Regnant and Wayward, police efforts have resulted in 90 arrests of 58 offenders. Of the 58, 53 have been remanded in custody.
“A lot of these crimes are committed for stature and standing,” he said.
Local residents have also been more proactive about personal safety and securing property.
“We’ve done a lot of work with the families of offenders by connecting them with available services, helping with stresses they may have at home, helping find ways to get their kids back on track and stop the cycle of re-offending.
“They go for shoes, mobile phones, clothing – branded items.
“We also have dedicated members who work in victim management; they make sure victims are aware of their rights and link them with any services that are available to them. The members also update victims on court proceedings.” Regnant’s proactive police make themselves well-known by providing a very visual presence. Its members take great effort to get to know their communities, including offenders and their families. The additional patrols for Regnant mean police can also follow up on situations that other patrol teams cannot. For instance, even when a Triple Zero (000) call-out from a woman who thought her home was being broken into turned out to be a false alarm, the Regnant patrol still went to visit her.
They checked the property and neighbouring ones, and reassured the still-frightened woman that all was well. With the success of Regnant in the North West Metro Region, home invasions are on the wane. And it is casting its net wider, to also focus on decreasing antisocial behaviour. Images Proactive policing 01 Operation Wayward’s Sergeant Paul Gilmour and Senior Constable Karl Little are a welcome presence on the streets. 02 The police speak to a local about recent activity in the area. Editorial: Donna Magness Photography: Andrew Henshaw POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2018
LIVES ON THE LINE Triple Zero (000) call takers are often the first contact for people in their time of need and a single phone call is all it takes for police to spring into action. A shopkeeper in Flemington is being brutally attacked by armed robbers. She tries to call Triple Zero (000), but is unable to speak as she defends herself. The phone is left lying on the floor, the call still connected. The two men shout demands as they assault her. On the other end of the line, all Sergeant Nathan Vipond can hear is the sound of screams and shattering glass. While this violent situation is unfolding, Sgt Vipond has already begun his work. Even without an address, police arrive within minutes and arrest the men. The woman is seriously injured but she will recover. If it weren’t for the efforts of Sgt Vipond and his team, the outcome could have been very different.
This is one of many situations police and Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) call-takers face every day. When a caller dials Triple Zero (000), they receive a prompt to choose police, fire or ambulance. If the caller requires police assistance in a regional area, the call is directed to Police Communications Ballarat. If it’s metropolitan, it’s managed by the Melbourne office. While ESTA are largely responsible for calls where the location and nature of the incident is clear, the more ambiguous calls are handled by Police Communication Liaison Officers (PCLOs) like Melbourne’s Sgt Vipond. Known as Triple Zs, these calls can be anything from an unintentional pocket dial to something more sinister. Sgt Vipond said it’s usually the former, which can be frustrating for police. “Often our Triple Zs are people who have called by mistake, especially children,” Sgt Vipond said. “We’ve had a rise in accidental calls from children because parents let them play with their mobile phones.
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“We know it’s not intentional, but it’s something that can be easily prevented.” The PCLOs handle more than 50 Triple Z calls each shift in addition to providing advice to ESTA and monitoring multiple live events, including major disasters, sieges and pursuits. Because each call could potentially become a serious situation like the convenience store robbery, each one must be examined carefully. “What a lot of people don’t realise is we must investigate every single call and treat it as a potential emergency, so when we get these prank calls it takes our attention away from real events,” Sgt Vipond said. “When you’re dealing with something like the Bourke Street tragedy, you want to give it your 100 per cent attention.” Police Communications has a number of tools at its disposal to help filter the undefined calls.
Using the caller’s mobile phone, police can narrow down a search area when organising assistance. In the convenience store incident, the phone data indicated the caller was in Flemington – an area Sgt Vipond was familiar with from a previous role. After checking the police database using the phone number, he discovered the woman had previously been the victim of a robbery. “Even though I could only hear the sounds of duress on the other end of the line, with the information I had I was sure we were dealing with a serious crime,” Sgt Vipond said. “With my knowledge of the area I was able to figure out where her store was.” Using the Computer Aided Dispatch system, which can track police vehicles in any given area, Sgt Vipond knew there was a divisional van nearby. “I turned to the ESTA dispatcher and told them to get the van to the location as soon as possible,” he said.
With the number of calls PCLOs handle on a daily basis, they have no way of knowing what happens to the victims and offenders after the calls are dealt with and police have resolved the incident. Sgt Vipond said he’s just glad he can help people in need. “The fact you’ve done something to help is all it takes to make this job rewarding. You don’t need the physical praise to know you’ve made a difference.” Although there are many regular prank callers to Police Communications, surprisingly genuine callers are less likely to make contact. Police Communication’s Inspector Peter Ferguson said in his experience, witnesses were more hesitant to reach out for assistance. “My advice to people who think they may have witnessed a crime taking place is to always pick up the phone and call us,” he said. “If you don’t call and something did happen, you could have assisted. If you have information about a crime that’s already happened, call Crime Stoppers. “Don’t worry about wasting our time with genuine calls – we’re here to help people.”
Phone faux pas When five-year-old Brodie was taught about calling Triple Zero (000) at school, he couldn’t wait to put his learning into practice. What he didn’t realise was calling the number just to see if it worked would result in police on his doorstep. When Police Communication’s Sergeant Nathan Vipond was tasked with investigating the call, he was unsure of the caller’s motives at first. “We’d received a call from a secure military compound, but no one was answering on the other end,” he said. “Military police attended the address to make sure everything was okay, but no one was home.” It was soon discovered that little Brodie had made the call after learning about the number the previous day. After his mother explained the importance of saving the number for emergencies, Brodie sent a heartfelt apology for his actions. Sgt Vipond said he was glad Brodie understood the importance of calling in an emergency. “At the end of the day we don’t want children to be afraid to contact us when they need us,” Sgt Vipond said.
In an emergency call Triple Zero (000). If you would like to report a crime or have information about a crime, contact your Image Police Action local police station or call Crime Stoppers Police Communications and ESTA manage 333 000. callson for1800 help 24/7. Editorial: Ashlee Williams POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2018
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF
DIVISIONAL RESPONSE UNIT At 4am most people are usually sound asleep, but not the Divisional Response Unit (DRU) for Southern Metro Region’s Division 3. Kitted up and ready to arrest a man suspected of trafficking drugs under Operation Sovranly, the team of 18 rehearse their arrest at the back of the police station.
Then comes the yelling of ‘police’, the lights flick on in the house and minutes later the main target, a man in his 30s, is led out of the house in handcuffs.
In policing terms, the Dandenong raid is fairly straightforward, but they think their target might make a run for it, so they have all bases covered. Plus, no arrest is easy, the unexpected is always likely to happen and in this case it does.
Not far behind him, an officer follows, clutching her hand after being bitten by a dog during the arrest.
“Keep it slow and steady,” the group is told as they finish up their briefing. They load up their gear, including a couple of ladders to climb the fence and a ram to get through the door, and make their way to the house in a quiet court. If not for the faint scuffing sounds being made by the group as they approach the front door a short time later, the night would be still.
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Over the next few hours, the DRU members search the house and find pills, heroin, a few thousand dollars cash and prohibited weapons. “About two warrants like this one are conducted each week, focusing on drugs, mainly methamphetamine and heroin, and weapons,” the DRU’s Senior Constable David Swankie said.
The weekly arrests are definitely making an impact. “We have an average of 900 active intelligence reports relating to drug type activity in the area at any one time,” officer in charge Senior Sergeant John Bergin said. With a strong background in undercover policing and crime investigation over more than 30 years in policing, Sen Sgt Bergin was tasked to set up the DRU. And in its first year, it has set a high standard.
“These guys are low level dealers, but it’s not a bad haul, it disrupts activity.”
Since its inception in August 2016, the DRU has arrested more than 330 people while executing about 250 warrants where the persons of interest were known to be violent and possess firearms and weapons.
Just a week prior, the DRU went up a level, seizing several kilos of cocaine, four hand guns and more than $100,000 in cash from a house in Cranbourne.
The warrants seized almost $300,000 in cash and 60 firearms from handguns to sawn-off shot guns and home-made firearms, as well as thousands of rounds of ammunition.
There are multiple DRU-type units operating across the state, but Southern Metro Division 3 is doing things differently, using a dedicated human source team to gather intelligence. They also have a team focused on arresting fugitives. “They’re people that we class as a danger to the community – those with outstanding multiple warrants for arrest or high risk family violence offences,” Sen Const Swankie said. Six weeks into her stint at the DRU, Constable Lauren Meyer now leads some of the teams on investigations. While today was disappointing as she had to go to hospital for treatment of the dog bite, she reflected on what has been a great learning curve. “I like investigating drugs and trying to find the supplier,” she said. “On my second day with the DRU I did a warrant and found cocaine. It was the first time I’d seen cocaine.” Const Meyer ran her first arrest warrant at a house where cannabis was suspected of being cultivated, after a tip-off from the public and handled the investigation from arrest to interviews with the offender.
Constable Luke Mason spent his first week at the DRU focusing on catching two fugitives wanted for dealing drugs.
“There are 60 active investigations and a huge number of intelligence reports that we’re working on,” Sen Sgt Bergin said.
“A 13-year-old girl overdosed and the two men fled when emergency services got there,” he said.
“With all that we’re constantly debriefing, improving and focusing on our members' safety.
“The DRU can use tools to track them and we got both of them about a week later.”
“Even the crooks are telling us that they know about us and what we’re doing.”
It is the unique use of human sources that is contributing to the success of the DRU in Victoria’s south. “No doubt it’s been the driving force of seizures of major drugs, warrants, firearms,” Sen Sgt Bergin said. “The decision was made to create the DRU a year and a half ago to focus on those committing crime and contributing to community harm. “We use analytics and catch them as safely and quickly as possible.” While the rush of this morning’s arrest slows, the DRU’s work does not stop there. The team debriefs about the job and people are assigned to check if there is a risk to the child at the address, provide referrals to the family and follow up with them.
Behind the police station, the team conducts a dry run of the raid and arrest before heading to the target address.
The house is searched, along with a car parked in the driveway, resulting in the seizure of weapons, drugs and cash.
Stay connected with police in Dandenong at facebook.com/ eyewatchgreaterdandenong Image Tackling drugs 01 Police arrest the person of interest and transport him to a nearby police station where they press charges. Editorial: Maria Carnovale Photography: Leading Senior Constable Paul Turner
The quiet turns to commotion as police force entry to the house and a police car with sirens blaring announces their arrival.
Constable Jason Budge thoroughly searches a car in the driveway.
THE NEW LINE OF
DEFENCE Teams of police have been set up to halt the manufacture and distribution of illegal firearms.
The Las Vegas carnage in October served as another stark reminder of what can happen when firearms end up in the wrong hands with malicious intent, but a new unit has been set up in Victoria Police which, according to one of its members, is working hard to prevent such tragic events. Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Burnett leads 10 police detectives in Firearms Investigation Teams, established at the start of last year to detect and intercept illicit firearms.
The extra detectives in Firearms Investigation Teams instigated more than 40 proactive investigations in 2017 involving intelligence leading to a person of interest, compared to five investigations by the Armed Crime Squad in 2016. Det Sen Sgt Burnett said these results reflect the work of a dedicated firearms unit who are able to more effectively deal with the presence of illegal firearms in the community and remove them from circulation.
The teams are Victoria’s new line of defence against those involved in the manufacture and distribution of illegal firearms, predominantly organised crime.
“The Firearms Investigation Teams have been effective when we consider what one firearm can do in the hands of a motivated criminal but it’s also the type, capability and calibre of the firearm that is a concern,” he said.
“We’ve noticed a significant rise in non-fatal shootings and illicit gun-related crime, which has certainly been a concern for Victoria Police and is why we have created two new teams within the Armed Crime Squad,” Det Sen Sgt Burnett said.
“We’re also mindful that part of the team’s role is to share intelligence with other law enforcement agencies such as Australian Border Force, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and Australian Federal Police.”
The results have so far been alarming and impressive.
The Firearms Investigation Teams can identify a firearm and trace its movement from the point of origin, where it was produced, when it was imported and its subsequent purchase history.
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“We can access this information for analysis to help us better target any offending group,” Det Sen Sgt Burnett said. In mid-2017, the team’s capabilities were tested when investigators linked an Australian military firearm to extended magazines being imported into Victoria, potentially for machine guns, which resulted in a search warrant at a highrise apartment block in Melbourne. “The suspect attempted to delay police entry and threw an object from the 17th storey, which turned out be a domestically-manufactured Austen submachine gun that was discovered in a garden bed below,” Det Sen Sgt Burnett said. A man was charged with several firearms offences and the weapon was identified through the National Firearm Trace Program to have been manufactured for the army in Sydney between 1942 and 1945. “This 9mm fully-functioning machine gun is now off the streets,” Det Sen Sgt Burnett said. The Firearms Investigation Teams have identified three sources of illicit firearms in Victoria.
“In addition to the firearms seized by the Firearms Investigation Teams, police from across the state have confiscated significant numbers and types of firearms in recent times that we are keen to destroy as soon as possible,” Det Sen Sgt Burnett said. But there are new challenges ahead, with developing 3D technology providing capability to manufacture working firearms. “When criminals are unable to purchase firearms through the black or grey markets, they sometimes attempt to manufacture them through various forms of backyard enterprises,” Det Sen Sgt Burnett said. The Firearms Investigation Teams now hope that their efficacy will be boosted by legislation currently before State Parliament to introduce Firearms Prohibition Orders. “This is a Bill that is one component of the Firearms Act (1996) where an order is served on an individual, it prohibits them from possessing a firearm and gives police additional search powers without a warrant,” Det Sen Sgt Burnett said.
“The first is the grey market where firearms were possibly purchased legally decades ago and due to different firearms licensing and registration requirements across Australia before 1996 when transfers from one state to another had different registration systems,” Det Sen Sgt Burnett said.
“We were able to successfully disrupt that particular criminal group and prevent those fully automatic handguns from ending up in the hands of criminals,” Det Sen Sgt Burnett said.
“Even though this anomaly was addressed to some extent during the national buyback scheme in 1996 and 2003, they are still out there in circulation,” he said.
Det Sen Sgt Burnett said criminals have ‘raised the bar’ from firearms being used to threaten others to an increased likelihood of them being discharged.
“The second source is the black market, often involving firearms stolen during a burglary and the third category is importation, which is very concerning because more often than not they involve handguns or military-style firearms.”
“We are finding that when a criminal possesses a gun they’re now more likely to use it,” he said.
A recent investigation identified a group suspected of trafficking firearms for several years and recently importing conversion kits that enable a semi-automatic handgun to be converted to a fully automatic machine gun, using a 30-round magazine.
“We are also seizing a broad range of weapons from .22 rifles, sawn-off 12-gauge shot guns, to military-grade fully automatic machine guns.”
“This legislation is targeted specifically at people we believe are a significant risk to the community to identify firearms and ammunition in their possession and get them off the streets. “Some of the firearms seized have the capability to inflict mass casualties so we should never be complacent but make no mistake, with the Firearms Investigation Teams, Victoria Police is now in a better position to target criminal groups.”
“The statistics speak for themselves with a significant rise, almost doubling over the past three years in non-fatal shootings.” The proceeds of some of the Firearms Investigation Teams’ efforts are displayed briefly on a table in a private office before being permanently destroyed.
Image Lethal weapons 01 From left, Detective Acting Sergeant Liam O’Connor, Det Sen Sgt Burnett and Detective Sergeant Gerry Mercovich from the Firearms Investigation Team. Editorial: Chris Metevelis Photography: Andrew Henshaw POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2018
“They catch the bad guys like Batman,” was one of many stand-out comments from children who entered the Chief Commissioner’s Colouring Competition.
Competition creates colourful response The Chief Commissioner's Colouring Competition, which ran over the summer holidays, saw more than 550 entries sent and emailed to Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton. While selecting a winner was tough, CCP Ashton said he was up for the challenge. “There were so many carefully coloured and decorated entries,” he said. “It was a very hard decision, but I was able to narrow it down to six winners with a couple of special mentions.” Image Colour fun CCP Ashton had the difficult task of selecting winners from the hundreds of entries.
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CCP Ashton was on-site to shake hands with the proud winners and present them with a cache of police-related gifts.
Comments from children including “taking care of me when there’s naughty people around”, “not letting cars drive over the speed limit so people can’t crash into my house”, “getting the bad guys out of the world”, “visiting my kinder and reminding me to wear my helmet when I ride my bike” and “watching for sharks” were among the hundreds of entries.
“I’m really pleased that so many children have taken the time to enter this competition,” CCP Ashton said.
“There were also a lot of comments from those who see themselves wearing the blue uniform one day,” CCP Ashton said.
“It’s really heartening to read through the comments from children and hear how children see our police.”
“Hopefully I get to catch up with them in a few years at the Academy to see them achieve their dreams.”
The lucky few were invited to a special tour of the Victoria Police Air Wing to see police helicopters in action, and were also treated to a meet and greet with Dog Squad members and their furry friends.
Visit police.vic.gov.au/kids for a full list of the winners of the Chief Commissioner’s Colouring Competition.
KAOS AND UTAH: PAWS ON PATROL Policing often runs in the family but in this case, it’s a canine clan that is recruiting police for the ranks. Veteran police dog Kaos, 8, is the leader of the pack and a long-serving member of Victoria Police’s Dog Squad. He’s managed to clamp his powerful jaws on offenders many times, to stop them fleeing the scene of a crime. But his proudest moment may be yet to come – training his pup Utah to follow in his paw prints.
Utah, still a tender 10 months old, has been watching and learning from his impressive dad since he was a few weeks old. Kaos is the first police dog in his breeding line, and from the look of young Utah, he is of superior stock. So Utah has a lot to live up to, and not least being able to nab offenders when he gets old enough, just like his dad. Utah is already a media star, and was also selected, alongside Kaos, to feature in the popular Victoria Police Chief Commissioner’s Colouring Competition, which attracted more than 550 entries over summer.
The duo inspired many youngsters who had their say on how police dogs keep them safe. Chanel, 10, said police use their dogs to find “mystery footprints and clues”. Seven-year-old Jaxon said “when I grow up I want to be a police officer with the K-9 unit” and five-year-old Mason said “Utah chases the bad guys and bites them on the bottom”. Read more about the colourful entries that featured the canine duo on page 20.
Image Fur family Utah has been learning the ropes, alongside his dad. Photography: Shane Bell
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Collision of callings
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Samantha Cini, Casey Superclinic For as long as she could remember, Samantha Cini wanted to help people. As a child, she would practise applying bandages to her family, leaving them looking like mummies. So it was little surprise when she decided to become a nurse. Four years into the job, Ms Cini said she loves the unpredictability. “Working in a 24-hour medical centre, you never know what you’re going to be dealing with each shift,” she said. “We can be doing anything from suturing to plastering broken bones.” Walking into work at a Berwick medical centre on Friday, 21 April last year, she could not have predicted the chaos that would unfold that afternoon. “When one of the receptionists told my colleague and I that a crash had happened in the car park I thought, ‘How bad can it be?’” she said. “As soon as we walked out and heard the screams, we realised it was much worse than we thought.”
What Ms Cini witnessed was horrific. “There was a car on its side up against a row of badly damaged cars and a sea of people gathered around,” she said. “That’s when I saw a woman performing CPR on a boy lying on the ground.” Four-year-old Brax Kyle had been walking in the car park with his father when a car came careening off the road and slammed into parked cars. Brax was holding his father’s hand when he was crushed between the parked cars.
“After he was loaded into the ambulance, we spoke to his parents and told them he was in the best hands. “Unfortunately his injuries were so severe he passed away in the hospital.” When she found out her father, a detective sergeant from the Major Collision Investigation Unit (MCIU) was on his way, it was a comforting but surreal moment.
Ms Cini immediately leapt into action.
“The scene was so bad when people first called Triple Zero (000) they were reporting it as a terrorist incident. It was terrible,” she said.
“You didn’t need to be medically trained to see that Brax’s injuries were serious,” she said.
“I never thought our working lives would cross over, but I was so glad my dad was there.”
“My colleague and I took turns performing CPR until we had a pulse.
Ms Cini said growing up with a police officer for a father helped her appreciate the work of emergency services.
“We ran back into work to grab a crash cart and that’s when we heard the sirens.” Paramedics arrived and Ms Cini helped them stabilise Brax.
“I remember his pager going off at all times of the night and when I asked him questions about his job he never sugar-coated the answers,” she said.
“We were just grabbing things out of the ambulances to help, hooking up lines, splintering his leg,” she said.
“We’re a very close family and now I’m a nurse, we have plenty of stories to share around the dinner table.”
A police officer and his daughter save lives in completely different ways. But when a horrific fatal collision happened in Berwick, their careers crossed paths.
Detective Sergeant Mark Amos, Victoria Police MCIU Det Sgt Amos has witnessed first-hand the devastating effect of road trauma. As a member of the MCIU he’s investigated serious and fatal collisions across the state for 15 years. With the unit attending more than 130 serious collisions in 2017 alone, the emotional toll on investigators can be severe. Det Sgt Amos said investigating a collision requires the ability to remove the emotion out of a scene. “When you first arrive, you can’t become fixated on the fact there’s been a death,” he said. “Eventually you get to know the families and their grief, and that’s the hardest part of our job.” When Det Sgt Amos received a call about a collision in Berwick last year, it became personal.
“All I knew at the time was a young boy had been hit by a car in Berwick and it wasn’t looking good,” he said.
“As a police officer I’ve been in and out of hospitals for 30 years, so I know what Samantha does as a nurse,” he said.
“Within minutes, I received a call from my daughter’s husband who said she was at the scene but she was unharmed.”
“What really struck me that day was how she handled herself during a truly horrific incident.
On arriving at the scene, he was faced with a decision no father wants to make – look after his daughter or get to work. Det Sgt Amos said the support of his workmates helped him do both.
“When you’re working in a clinic, you have all the tools at your disposal. She was in the middle of a car park surrounded by absolute chaos. “The fact that she was able to remember her training and do everything in her power for Brax made me immensely proud of her.”
“I’m extremely fortunate to work with the people that I do, because when my fellow sergeant who also attended realised my daughter was involved he said, ‘Do what you’ve got to do. We’ll take care of things here.’” It was then that Det Sgt Amos learned of Ms Cini's involvement in the attempt to save little Brax’s life.
Image Family values 01 Ms Cini and Det Sgt Amos are passionate about helping others. Editorial: Ashlee Williams Photography: John Pallot POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2018
OUT & ABOUT
M E R A
Sergeant Fiona Tolmie and Sen Sgt Hill discuss the jobs for the day and incidents from the night before. 24
AT I T S CE POLI 3782
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On the main strip, Sen Const Neylan and Const Jukes stop to talk to Sharon and two-year-old Leon.
Police head off-road to check some of the local hotspots where people are known to hang out.
Police Life steps out with Emerald police, taking in tourist attractions and off-road hotspots.
“We work with the community, attend local events, fetes and markets, going out and talking to people to build trust and the confidence to be able to talk to police.”
It’s been a long time since Solo One patrolled the streets of Emerald, but he’s left it in good hands.
Emerald attracts thousands of tourists daily. Puffing Billy is a popular spot with a surrounding lake and picnic area and police are met with waves from children as the train steams by.
I’m told to ‘Google it’ to understand the reference to a 1970s Australian TV show based in Emerald, featuring the solo motorcycle police officer who solved problems in his community. A lot has changed since then. Emerald Police Station, part of the Cardinia Shire and east of Melbourne in the Yarra Ranges, is a peaceful part of Victoria, where a team of 20 police are led by Senior Sergeant Carolyn Hill. Emerald is a small area, and the police station is part of a cluster of police stations covering the Cardinia area, all the way from Lang Lang to Cockatoo. “We’re very involved with our community,” Sen Sgt Hill said. This is evident as police walk along the main street and are stopped constantly by locals looking to chat.
The popular event in April attracts runners and spectators, and means police are on-hand to manage traffic around the area. Year-round police work hard to maintain road safety. “The roads around here can be very unforgiving,” Sen Sgt Hill said. “We have a strong traffic focus because of the winding roads and steep embankments.” As the police four-wheel-drive navigates its way from the main street of Emerald and along quiet off-road tracks and through a small stream, Senior Constable Sean Neylan said the quiet, remote areas were hot spots for young people hanging out, sometimes taking drugs.
ON T G N NIN IO S TAT
More formal evidence shows through the World Health Organisation’s recent recognition of Cardinia as one of Australia’s eight International Safe Communities.
One of the main events is the Great Train Race, a 13.5 km challenge where runners attempt to beat Puffing Billy on its route from Belgrave, ending in Emerald.
An assessor from South Korea named Cardinia for its commitment to safety, particularly its proactive work in family violence, crime, traffic, drug and alcohol issues and mental health. Cardinia Police Service Area’s Inspector Shane Smith said growth was the biggest challenge for the area, but that police were working with the community to prevent issues. “The safe community recognition was based on proactive initiatives for improving safety across the whole shire,” he said.
The police know the off-road tracks in their patch well, sometimes helping other emergency services navigate their way.
“There are a few spots like this that we like to try to cover,” Sen Const Neylan said. The secluded area has also been known to host the occasional outdoor rave party, a recent one where police escorted ambulance officers through the bush to treat a party-goer who had a run-in with a leech on her eye. “We know the roads here really well,” Sen Const Neylan said. “It was in the state forest, where we guided the ambos along local tracks to get to her.”
Off the road and in the cool section of the supermarket, Constable Mathew Jukes is handed a USB with CCTV footage on it. “There was an attempted break-in a few weeks ago,” store employee Matthew Blake said. “The Dog Squad and three or four police units came out, the crim was still here.” While they haven’t tracked that offender down yet, it’s only a matter of time, especially with CCTV footage on hand. The area’s Eyewatch page on Facebook was launched early last year and is already helping to solve crime like this. One success story led to police tracking down the thief of a donation tin after an image of the man wanted by police was posted on the Eyewatch Cardinia page. The post resulted in a number of other small businesses coming forward, having had their donation tins stolen too. The culprit was promptly arrested. And half an hour was all it took for another man to front up at the police station asking for his photo to be taken off the page, when police posted it, asking for help to identify him. “We didn’t even have to go out looking for him,” Insp Smith said.
Keep up with Cardinia police at facebook.com/eyewatchcardinia
Watch the Emerald police as they head out and about at youtu.be/yTfzK_p4_3w Image Hidden gem 01 Const Jukes and Sen Const Neylan take in the scenery at Emerald. Editorial: Maria Carnovale Photography: Andrew Henshaw
In the local supermarket, manager Bill Hopkins talks about a theft that occurred recently at the store.
Const Jukes checks drivers are obeying the speed limit.
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CAREER IN FOCUS
SERGEANT FIONA ROBINSON
Sergeant Fiona Robinson loves routine and at the same time, the challenges a new role brings.
As a sergeant, part of her role includes coordinating the search for missing people in the water and the squad’s response to marine incidents, such as boating mishaps.
Sgt Robinson graduated in 2004 and started at Melbourne West, where she spent three-anda-half years, before joining the bike patrol. She spent 13 months pedaling the city’s streets, and then joined the Mounted Branch. After eight years in the squad, an opportunity to join the Water Police came up in March last year and she dove right in.
She has completed her basic training, of about 10 weeks, and is excited about the opportunity to learn on the job.
Along with the new role came a promotion and Sgt Robinson said she’s been thoroughly enjoying her work and its myriad of challenges. “The best part about working for the Water Police is the ability to work on the water, in all weather and sea conditions,” she said. “I’ve had great support from existing members of all ranks. This is a very encouraging environment; I like to surround myself with enthusiastic people and this is a characteristic of the squad.” Just as gender is no barrier to joining the Water Police – all roles are available to women – neither is age. Prior to policing, Sgt Robinson, 52, was a physical education and science teacher. She’s always loved the outdoors, growing up riding horses and sailing. She still enjoys running and swimming.
“Coming in fresh to the squad, I want to understand the various aspects of the job and ensure I have the necessary skills to perform effectively,” she explained. Some of the components of the basic training are chart work, including learning how to plot a boat’s course, marine law, snorkelling, safe launching and retrieval of boats, operating a boat, navigation, basic engine mechanics, knot-tying skills as well as firefighting methods on the water. “There is something to appeal to a broad range of policing interests,” Sgt Robinson said. “While we have a huge focus on water safetyrelated issues, it’s not only that. “There is also the crime-solving aspect. More and more arrests involving drugs are happening on the water; we’re seeing the tip of the iceberg at present.” There are two specialist areas in the squad the Marine Response Team and the Underwater Scanning Team. These units, in a nutshell, provide crime-fighting support and counterterrorism capability.
Making the transition from the Mounted Branch to the Water Police was an interesting process for Sgt Robinson. Coming from a sailing background, she had some prior knowledge of her water-based role, but she said there was still a lot to learn. “Moving from one specialist squad to another, there are some similarities. For example, instead of horses and floats, it’s boats and trailers,” she said. “There is a lot of opportunity here for upskilling. If there’s something new to learn, you’re given the opportunity to develop your abilities. “It’s a different style of policing, with a focus on saving lives. The development of members’ skills is a cumulative process, much like the snowball effect.” Sgt Robinson has advice for anyone, especially women who are thinking about joining the Water Police, but are unsure if they have the skills - if you can swim, are fairly fit and have an interest in the water, there is no reason you could not succeed in the squad.
Image Many talents Sgt Robinson has taken her career from riding horses to cruising Victoria’s waterways. Editorial: Donna Magness Photography: Shane Bell
History of the Water Police The Water Police was formed by Charles Joseph La Trobe, the superintendent of the Port Philip District, in 1840. The original contingent comprised of a coxswain and three Water Police constables. By 1852, the squad had grown in number with a detachment also stationed at Geelong, and in 1980 the squad was renamed the Water Police Squad. In 1985, the Gippsland Water Police came into being and is now responsible for policing the waters from the New South Wales border to Wonthaggi, including Wilsonâ€™s Promontory and the inland Lake Dartmouth. In 2002, the Water Police and Search and Rescue Squads were relocated to a joint facility in Williamstown.
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POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2018
He was a promising, intelligent law graduate who wanted to be closer to his dad. What no one knew was that Phillip See and his father, Christopher, held a dark secret that baffled police for years. From 2007 to 2011, the father-and-son duo committed hundreds of burglaries, netting millions in cash, jewellery and other items.
His father acted as a lookout and regularly spoke to his son by mobile phone. After nine hours, the pair left with about $1 million in cash and goods.
Executing well-planned burglaries, the Sees, from Sydney, targeted large homes in affluent suburbs and evaded capture until a breakthrough in 2011.
They stayed overnight in a Carlton hotel before Phillip caught a train back to NSW with the goods and his father flew home.
Police discovered they had sold stolen items to a Melbourne auction house and a false name was used to sell the items. After a thorough investigation, police uncovered their real identities and they became the main burglary suspects. Although there wasn’t enough evidence to link the pair to the burglaries at the time, police kept a close eye on them. Not your average criminals, Christopher See, 59, a father of three, had been working two jobs and needed money to support his younger children from his second marriage. His eldest son, Phillip, had grown up in a dysfunctional family and had served two years for a burglary committed in New South Wales (NSW). Victoria Police Eastern Region Crime Squad's Detective Senior Constable Cliff Pickett, formerly of the Boroondara Crime Investigation Unit, was in charge of investigating the burglaries, which occurred in Balwyn, Balwyn North and Kew. He said a joint investigation with NSW police had proven to be beneficial. “We found out they were flying from Sydney to Melbourne quite regularly, sometimes under false names,” Det Sen Const Pickett said. On 3 December, 2011, unaware of police monitoring their moves, the father-and-son team travelled from NSW to Melbourne again.
Police arrested the pair two weeks later when they discovered a treasure trove of goods in a warehouse in Waterloo, Sydney. Stolen cash, gold and silver bars, jewellery and other items were recovered, including 90 per cent of the goods stolen from Kennard’s. They also found manuals about safe-breaking and money laundering.
Det Sen Const Pickett said it was the biggest burglary he’d investigated. “It had the highest amount of property stolen over such a lengthy period of time,” he said. “The cooperation between NSW and Victoria Police was essential in arresting them and locating the stolen property.” He described 36-year-old Phillip as a kleptomaniac who extensively researched and ordered specialty tools for safe-breaking. “He was a socially awkward loner who instigated the crimes and a mastermind when it came to this type of burglary,” Det Sen Const Pickett said. “He had also committed other types of burglaries, so we would think there were different suspects. “At times, he would break into someone’s house and wouldn’t steal anything. He would contact financial institutions and end up gaining access to bank accounts.
02 Images Caught out 01 Phillip See was captured on CCTV at Melbourne Airport on the day of the Kennard’s burglary, as he flew in from Sydney. 02 This large haul of rings was part of a stash of cash, totalling $1.2 million, and rings that had been stolen from various venues over several years. Editorial: Mandi Santic
“Quite often, the victims didn’t even know they’d been a victim of burglary.”
Det Sen Const Pickett found out a burglary had occurred at Kennard’s Self Storage in Ivanhoe the day after their arrival. Phillip had used an alias to hire a safety deposit box at Kennard’s and was immediately the prime suspect.
Det Sen Const Pickett said the offenders weren’t involved in organised or drug-related crime and didn’t splurge on a lavish lifestyle.
Phillip broke into the storage roof and cut razor wire using power tools to open a door. He then covered CCTV cameras and broke into 36 safety deposit boxes.
In 2012, they were convicted of burglary, theft and fraud offences.
“They had access to millions of dollars and didn’t extravagantly spend it,” he said.
Phillip See served three years imprisonment and Christopher See was released on bail. Both also faced further sentences in NSW.
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2018
BROTHERS ON THE BEAT It’s been a sea change, of sorts, for Protective Services Officer (PSO) siblings Michael and Brian Murray, who now spend their working hours on the platforms at railway stations across Melbourne. Brothers Michael, 54, and Brian, 52, are former navy men, who have spent a combined 27 years at sea before completely changing track. At 37, after 21 years in the navy and with young children, Michael decided on a career change. He pursued management roles in various companies, before becoming bored. “I got sick of sitting in an office,” he said. “I wanted a chance to enjoy the outdoors, be able to problem-solve on the run and put the skills I learned in defence to better use.” Michael graduated from the Victoria Police Academy in February 2014, and hasn’t rested on his laurels. In his short time with Victoria Police, he has taken on a mentoring role, working with new recruits during their 12-week probationary stint. He is also a volunteer peer support officer.
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2018
“If someone’s struggling and they want to have a chat, I’m all ears and always ready for a coffee,” he said. Brian spent six years at sea, before dropping anchor to a new career, about 26 years ago. Now, with a wife and three grown-up children, and after many years in defence, emergency response roles and more, he is new to Victoria Police, graduating in October last year. His former roles have helped strengthen his core skills for the role of a PSO. “All these skills I learned elsewhere – emergency training and people-management skills – help tremendously for my work as a PSO,” he said. It almost goes without saying that the brothers work well together, and enjoy working together too. This is not the first time their career paths have crossed. They were together in the navy, and later, worked at RMIT in security roles.
Michael agrees. “You’re never too old to have a crack at it,” he said, to anyone considering a career with Victoria Police. “My advice would be ‘go for it’. People will be very surprised at what they can do, if they really want to do it,” Brian said. “It’s the best of both worlds in policing, which can be reactive. We’ve got a proactive role in that we get to chat to people as we go along. It’s community interaction.” Michael said the community engagement aspect of their role was most rewarding. “It’s the opportunity to help someone who may be struggling,” he said. And it may be that the Murray brothers have started a family trend. Michael’s 24-year-old son has put his hand up to serve, and recently applied to join the PSO ranks.
“I’m glad to have Michael around to bounce things off,” Brian said. “I found going through the Academy challenging. The last time I was in a classroom, I was 15 years old. “Being a 52-year-old and having to go back to school for 12 weeks was challenging, but not impossible.”
Image Seeing double 01 PSO brothers Brian and Michael Murray work well together and take situations in their stride. Editorial: Donna Magness Photography: Damon Hunter Photography
In memory of Quigg Sergeant Richard Quigg was Victoria Police’s longest-serving police officer when he died last year. His former workplace recently named a shooting range in his honour. He was devoted to his job and a father figure and mentor to many of his work colleagues. The late Sgt Quigg served Victoria Police for 54 years, with 34 of those working in Geelong, particularly at the Operational Safety Unit, teaching police operational safety and tactics training. He passed away last year after battling cancer, working up until just before he died. Throughout his career, Sgt Quigg worked at Geelong, Norlane, Geelong West and Melbourne, and spent many of his years as the head of Geelong’s training facility, where he helped teach more than 3,000 police each year.
As a young constable, Sgt Quigg was called to an incident involving a man threatening suicide with a firearm. While trying to calm the man down, he pointed his firearm at Sgt Quigg and pulled the trigger. Fortunately the firearm never discharged, but the incident had a lasting effect on Sgt Quigg and shaped his passion for training and ensuring members never took their operational safety for granted. As a sign of his dedication to the job and the mark he made on his workplace, a firing range was named in Sgt Quigg’s honour.
“He was like a father figure to many of us, he was a great guy and friend.” Ldg Sen Const Noble said it was a fitting tribute for a police officer who gave so much. “He will now always be part of this area,” he said. “He was a great instructor and always made us laugh. “There are many police based at Geelong that worked with him for 20 years or more, he meant so much to the area, everyone knew him, he was a legend around here.”
A presentation was held at the facility, attended by Sgt Quigg’s son, also a police officer, two daughters, grandchildren and partner. Friends and long-time colleagues leading senior constables Wayne Robinson, Wayne McLean, John Miller and Phil Noble also attended the ceremony to pay tribute to their mate. “I have worked with Quiggy for many years,” Ldg Sen Const Robinson said.
Image Not forgotten 01 Geelong Operational Safety Unit's leading senior constables Wayne Robinson, Phil Noble, John Miller and Assistant Commissioner Kevin Casey opened a firing range in honour of Sgt Quigg. 02 Sgt Quigg, pictured here in 2013, is remembered for his passion and dedication to training police. Editorial: Janae Houghton Photography: Courtesy of Geelong Advertiser POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2018
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Published on Mar 9, 2018