THE VICTORIA POLICE MAGAZINE
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On patrol MORNINGTON POLICE COVER ALL BASES FROM BITUMEN TO BAY. PLUS HOW TO JOIN CIRT > EXAMINING CRIME SCENES > CHIEF COMMISSIONERâ€™S COLOURING COMPETITION AND MORE
Sunny Mornington From beach to bars, Mornington is the place to be and local police have it covered.
Tactics training Find out what it takes to get into the Critical Incident Response Team.
COVER: Mornington police take summer safety seriously. Photography: John Pallot 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 firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Editor Cecilia Evans
Examining a crime Victoria Police’s crime scene officers have the skills to find out who did it.
The impound effect Anti-hoon laws give police the power to remove vehicles from unsafe drivers.
Editor Maria Carnovale Journalists Anthea Cannon Andria Cozza 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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Behind the Badge True Crime Badge and Beyond
Our Story Two victims of crime tell how their most difficult moments have brought them together to support each other.
A MESSAGE FROM THE ACTING CHIEF COMMISSIONER Welcome to the summer edition of Police Life. This edition showcases the role of a crime scene officer and an ‘out and about’ with Mornington police. These are examples of the many different roles a person can experience in Victoria Police. Our organisation is becoming increasingly diverse, and as we welcome a large number of graduates from the Victoria Police Academy into our organisation in 2017, it is pleasing that modern policing presents our new recruits with an array of work opportunities and an extraordinary career choice. This edition of Police Life also features an article on police preparedness for the festive season and the summer fixture of major events across the state. Our police will be out in force during this time. There will be extra resources and special campaigns to keep Victorians safe. At this busy time of year, I urge everyone to take special care when travelling on the roads and attending events. 2
POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
As 2017 draws to a close, it is an opportunity to reflect on what we have achieved this year. I am proud to say that we have made significant progress on modernising our organisation to ensure we meet our future challenges. We have new equipment; we have delivered information communication technology projects that will be transformative for policing, and we have shown considerable leadership in reforming the culture and health of our organisation. At a time when Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton is taking leave to deal with fatigue-related issues, I reiterate the importance of staff speaking up as early as possible when they need support. CCP Ashton is leading by example, and it is encouraging that we are seeing more people putting their hand up and seeking help. We look forward to serving the Victorian community in 2018. Shane Patton APM Acting Chief Commissioner
MAKING NEWS For the latest police news visit vicpolicenews.com.au
MONUMENTAL ACHIEVEMENT FOR WOMEN IN POLICING A statue commemorating this year’s centennial celebration of women in policing in Victoria has been unveiled on the grounds of the Victoria Police Academy in Glen Waverley. Deputy Commissioner Wendy Steendam and Police Minister Lisa Neville unveiled the life-size bronze statue of a policewoman standing at ease and holding a peaked cap in November. The statue stands on a granite plinth with bronze plaques on each side depicting past and present images of Victorian policewomen. “This statue is a great symbol of change,” DC Steendam said. “It recognises the achievements of the inspirational women who paved the way, the challenges they overcame and the sustained efforts required on their parts to push the boundaries and break through the many barriers they faced.”
On 28 July 1917 Madge Connor and Elizabeth Beers became Victoria Police’s first female agents and, like many other pioneering women of their generation, were paid half the salary of their male colleagues. “From two policewomen in 1917, we now have nearly 4,000 in our organisation, which represents about 28 per cent of all sworn members,” DC Steendam said. Ms Neville said the statue epitomised the long journey over a century by women in Victoria Police. “This statue reminds us that girls and women who are considering a career with Victoria Police know they have a bright future ahead of them,” she said. “The Government and Victoria Police’s push to improve gender equality in the force will in turn lead to better services to the community.” DC Steendam said the statue will serve as a reminder of the contribution of women in Victoria Police and a symbol of encouragement for the future.
“Symbols help define the character of our organisation to our members and the community,” she said. “They set the scene for the organisational culture, a touchstone for those commencing or thinking about a career in the police force.” The unveiling of the statue was among a series of events that took place during 2017 to mark the centenary of women in policing in Victoria, including the rededication of Ms Connor’s grave and a commemorative graduation ceremony at the Victoria Police Academy attended by past, current and future members. Visit the Victoria Police Museum’s Agents of Change exhibition to find out more about the contribution of women in policing at the World Trade Centre, Mezzanine Level, 637 Flinders Street, Melbourne, open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm. Image Historic reminder 01 A bronze statue commemorating women in policing is at the Victoria Police Academy. Editorial: Chris Metevelis Photgraphy: Ofere Goldstein POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
SMALL TALK VOXPOP
DID YOU KNOW?
Police Life asked children how police keep them safe.
Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team, which merged from the Epping and Diamond Creek police stations. “There are an additional 12 members from the Family Violence Team and 10 others from the Sex Offenders Register Team who are also based at Mernda,” he said.
TYNN, 13 GRADE 6 Ascot Vale West Primary School
Mernda Police Station forms part of the Whittlesea police service area and serves the suburbs of Mernda, Doreen, South Morang, Woodstock and Yan Yean.
“I have seen police arresting people when they are bad and they stop people from speeding with cameras.” ELYSE, 11 GRADE 6 Ascot Vale West Primary School
“They keep us safe from bad people who hurt you, which keeps the community safe. They make lots of laws and arrest people.” PAIGE, 11 GRADE 6 Ascot Vale West Primary School
“They make sure that no one is driving dangerously on the road, they save people too, which helps to keep us safe.”
Sen Sgt Delle-Vergini at Mernda Police Station.
Mernda Police Station is open for business. The 24-hour facility at Bridge Inn Road in Melbourne’s northern fringe began operating last month with more than 110 employees. Station commander Senior Sergeant Dean Delle-Vergini said this included 45 uniform members and 30 police from the Sexual
Join the Conversation Police Life loves hearing what you think about the magazine, your local police and Victoria Police in general. Write or email Police Life at: Police Life GPO Box 913 Melbourne, 3001 Email: email@example.com
POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
“This station has state-of-the-art facilities and sufficient staff to meet increasing demands in the area, which has a significant population growth corridor through the Whittlesea police service area,” Sen Sgt Delle-Vergini said. Stay connected with Mernda police on the Whittlesea Eyewatch page at facebook.com/eyewatchwhittlesea
POLICING PRESENTS If you’re looking for a summer read, check out the collection of policing and crime-related books including The Dog Squad by Vikki Petraitis, or Sons of God, an insight into the Special Operations Group, by Heath O’Loughlin.
Children are invited to take part in the Chief Commissioner's colouring competition to share how police keep them safe on page 15.
BE PART OF THE STORY
The area has one of the fastest-growing and culturally-diverse communities in Australia.
The Dog Squad $33 Sons of God $30 The Victoria Police Museum is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm, at the World Trade Centre, Mezzanine Level, 637 Flinders Street, Melbourne.
You can find a variety of Christmas gift options at the Victoria Police Museum. A special edition bauble is available to hang among your favourite decorations. The sparkly blue ornament is a great stocking filler for $8. A great idea for little ones is the buildable command truck, which also includes a helicopter, car and figurines of police and criminals for $49.
Special opening hours on Saturdays in January and February will be advertised at policemuseum.vic.gov.au
BEHIND THE BADGE
LOREN TRUTER Rank: Senior Constable Age: 26 Graduated: March 2010 Station: Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) Why did you join CIRT? When I was a uniform officer, I attended a few jobs that turned into sieges. When we have a siege situation, the CIRT get called in to manage it, so I’d have to step back as a uniform officer while CIRT did all the cool stuff. After seeing this happen a few times, I thought ‘hang on, I want to be doing that’. After four-and-a-half years at Knox and Dandenong police stations, I trained for CIRT and got in on my first attempt. I’ve been here for more than three years now. Tell us about your work at CIRT. We respond to jobs outside the realm of response of general duties, including armed offenders and sieges. Units within CIRT include tasked operations, negotiators and close personal protection, so we can cover all those aspects and more with specialised training. I worked in the analyst’s office while I was pregnant, and since returning from maternity leave, I am back on the CIRT floor and have been selected to participate in the negotiators' course. I elected to return to work full-time after six months of maternity leave. Coming back full-time was a challenge, especially when it came to getting my fitness levels up again. Now I’m a mother I’m also trying to manage work and home life. My bosses are really accommodating with me and the work roster, which is fantastic.
What is most rewarding about working in the CIRT? We get to train all the time, work in a close-knit team and handle highlevel jobs. When we resolve a situation, whether through negotiation, tactical options or the offender ends up surrendering, it’s nice to know that we’ve deployed our tactics to the best of our abilities and all that training pays off. What kind of physical fitness is required for CIRT? It’s a bit of everything. During the physical testing, you need to complete sprints while wearing full CIRT kit, so you need both cardio and strength. On any given day, you may need to carry a 12-kilogram ram or a 15-kilogram ballistic shield, so you need the strength and endurance to get through every element of a CIRT job. On top of the physical training at work, I practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in my spare time, which has proven handy in my role. Tell us about an interesting job. Any day can result in a good arrest. One that springs to mind happened in Sunbury where a man was threatening self-harm. CIRT members deployed bean bag rounds (flexible baton rounds) and I deployed my conducted energy device to subdue him and prevent him from hurting himself. He was taken into custody and given medical assistance. You never know when an interesting job is going to happen, but when it does and you get a good result, it’s an awesome feeling. Read more about what it takes to be in the CIRT on page 10.
Image High alert 01 CIRT officers are always ready for action. Editorial: Ashlee Williams Photography: Stu Heppell POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
IN BRIEF PROACTIVE POLICING STORIES
BETTER PROTECTION FOR VICTIMS Domestic violence laws have been introduced across Australia to strengthen protection for victims and their families. The National Domestic Violence Order Scheme is a joint government initiative removing state and territory borders for Domestic Violence Orders (DVOs), known as Family Violence Intervention Orders (FVIOs) in Victoria. In the past, DVOs only applied in the state or territory in which they were issued or registered. With the new scheme in place, DVOs made anywhere in Australia will be nationally recognised and enforceable across the country. As of 25 November, all active Victorian FVIOs will automatically be nationally recognised and enforceable in all Australian jurisdictions. Interstate orders issued prior to 25 November can be nationally recognised through a court application. For more visit ag.gov.au/ndvos
NEW LOOK FOR CRIME SCENE SERVICES
MOBILE TECHNOLOGY IN GOOD HANDS
New regional Crime Scene Services vehicles are hitting the streets, as Volkswagen Transporters replace the current fleet of Ford Territory vehicles.
Transit police and protective services officers in the Werribee police service area were first to be supplied with mobile devices as part of a statewide rollout.
The vehicles are able to safely carry crime scene equipment and meet occupational health and safety manual handling standards, project sponsor Superintendent Rod Wilson said. There is also a hand wash unit and fridge, with customised storage areas for equipment.
“This vehicle has the potential to be the best available vehicle for frontline crime scene members in Australia,” he said.
Benefits are already being realised, with the first arrest using the devices occurring moments into the first shift, when officers were checking on a smoker standing under a ‘No Smoking’ sign. The check revealed the person had an outstanding warrant to appear on summons for driving in a manner dangerous.
The first 40 Volkswagen Transporters will be rolled out to replace Ford Territory vehicles during December and early next year.
The technology, on iPhone 7 plus and iPad minis, gives police access to law enforcement data in the field.
POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
‘UNSPEAKABLE’ TOPICS GIVEN A VOICE
Victoria Police’s first podcast, a six-part series on the types of support available to people who report sexual offences, has proven a success. The podcast, Unspeakable: Understanding Sexual Crime, has so far resulted in at least one victim coming forward to report to police. Since being launched, Unspeakable has gained more than 80,000 listeners, and reached top spot on the Australian iTunes charts within 24 hours of the first episode being released. It was also featured on Channel 10’s The Project in October. Themes explored include reporting sexual crime, investigation of cases, the specialist response, victim experiences, offender behaviour patterns (including grooming victims) and future directions for Victoria Police in this area. Manager of the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Team Rena De Francesco said it was important for listeners to gain a better understanding of sexual offending from a victim’s perspective. “Whether a victim comes forward to start an investigation or has an opportunity to tell their story, we’re here to help and will listen. We want to let people know support is available to them,” she said. The podcast is available on iTunes or SoundCloud.
CULTIVATING CONNECTIONS WITH LOCAL COMMUNITIES With a focus on keeping communities safe and working closely with residents, Victoria Police will be delivering a new community-based initiative referred to as Community Safety Networks, over the coming year.
ODD SPOT CORNER Cool customer Impounded vehicles can come in all shapes and sizes. A motorised Esky is among the Vehicle Impoundment Support Unit’s most notable impoundments. The vehicle was unregistered and driven by someone who had a suspended licence and was never reclaimed and subsequently destroyed.
Led by the Department of Justice and Regulation and delivered by Victoria Police, Community Safety Networks is a partnership between the Victorian community, Victoria Police, Victorian Government, Crime Stoppers Victoria and Neighbourhood Watch.
Police also nabbed a disqualified driver who tried to dig himself out with excuses after he was caught behind the wheel of an unregistered bobcat. The bobcat was impounded from Fawkner and its owner was left to plough through the fines.
The networks will provide platforms and opportunities for residents to raise and discuss issues relating to safety in their community. Issues identified through the networks will inform the development of long-term, community-led projects and initiatives to help improve community safety.
Read more about vehicle impounds on page 28.
The initial six networks have been launched in Wyndham, Melton, Ballarat, Whittlesea, Cardinia and Latrobe. Another six networks will be launched in mid-2018 in Brimbank, Dandenong, Frankston, Knox, Shepparton and Geelong. Through the Community Safety Networks, each community will deliver local crime prevention initiatives for which they will receive up to $50,000. Funding has been provided through the Victorian Government’s Community Safety Statement 2017. Find out more about the networks via your local Eyewatch page at police.vic.gov.au/eyewatch on Facebook or visit engage.vic.gov.au
The impounded Esky.
POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
OUT & ABOUT
AT I T S CE POLI 3931
From cafes to clubs and beaches to vineyards, Mornington has summer entertainment covered. But for the local police, sun, surf and sand means keeping the community safe is key. 01
Ldg Sen Const Kraus checks up on the old police cells, next door to the station.
POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
Sen Const Caddy checks out his equipment in preparation for the nightâ€™s brawler shift.
Const Spicer and Sen Const Caddy head out to the brawler van.
ON T G N NIN
O town and with the warmer A perfect sunny day in Victoria’s “This AisTaIvibrant T S weather coming we need to be at the top of E south on the MorningtonO L I C our game, we have a strong liquor accord and P 1 closely with the Shire and licensees. Peninsula means people 3 9 3work are out and about in droves. “But if people misbehave and drink to excess It’s also snapper season, which sees boats moving in and out of the Mornington jetty as regularly as the waves, families strolling along Main Street and, as the night wears on, groups of people making their way to the popular pubs and clubs. Acting Senior Sergeant Steve Duffee is one of the station commanders along with Senior Sergeant Neil Aubert who has been officer in charge at the station for 15 years. They have seen the area and work variety grow over the years and have a vested interest in the Mornington community, but they’re not the only ones. A/Sen Sgt Duffee and a large majority of the members at the station live locally or on the peninsula. “Everybody who works at Mornington seems to enjoy their time here,” A/Sen Sgt Duffee said. “The licensed premises close at 3am on Friday and Saturday nights and then just a few hours later, at 7am, things are opening again for breakfast.” While the brunch crowd doesn’t require much from the local police, Mornington has a plan for the thousands of visitors who come to the area on weekends and those taking a punt at the Mornington Racecourse. There are about 50 licensed premises on and around Main Street alone. One of them, the Grand Hotel, has one of the oldest liquor licenses in Victoria and as police walk along Main Street, they stop in for a quick check of the hotel’s log book to ensure they’re complying with the local liquor accord. A strategy to reduce antisocial behaviour is the brawler van, out every Friday and Saturday night to dispel the crowds, which A/Sen Sgt Duffee attributes to low assault offences.
they face being locked up, given council fines and issued with banning notices as we have a designated area.” Tonight’s brawler van crew includes Senior Constable Matthew Caddy, a 4th generation police officer, and Constable Jessie Spicer who graduated from the Victoria Police Academy seven months ago. They know the area like the back of their hands and point out the best places to eat and talk about walking along the beachfront as children. Const Spicer’s first-ever police shift was in Mornington, after completing her on-the-job training there.
In summer people are out on the beach until late, so police regularly coordinate rescues and manage speeding jet skis and those getting too close to swimmers and the shore. There are also many large country roads in their patch. Leading Senior Constable Greg Kraus has worked on the peninsula for 30 years. He knows everyone, everyone knows him and he knows everything about the town, station and its history. “We recently had a memorial to recognise 125 years since the local footy team tragedy,” he said. In 1892, 15 people died off the coast of Mornington. They were sailing home from a football match in Mordialloc but never returned. The sole police officer at the time, Senior Constable Thomas Murphy, ran a search party, which found the boat partially submerged.
She responded to a call about a 55-year-old in a drug-induced psychosis.
“They only found four of the bodies, the rest were never recovered,” Ldg Sen Const Kraus said.
“He’d taken ice, he hadn’t taken drugs before and didn’t know the effect it would have. When we turned up he started throwing fists at my partner,” she said.
“He (Sen Const Murphy) would have known the people who died and their families. One of them was the town’s minister and three of his sons also died in the tragedy.”
They subdued the man with capsicum spray, but while treating him, his son arrived, charging at Const Spicer.
Ldg Sen Const Kraus proudly shows us through the old court house next door to the station and the old cells, built in the 1860s, which have seen more than their share of characters.
“He came at me. He was literally double my size,” she said. “I was shaking the whole time, but I knew what I had to do.” With her baton ready, Const Spicer managed to use her words to calm him down. Fortunately, she hasn’t had to face a situation as precarious as that since, but it certainly prepared her for the variety in Mornington. As well as the usual policing challenges, they have the added complications of policing the bitumen and the bay.
In his spare time Ldg Sen Const Kraus makes an effort to get a group of police together – those who are retired, ill or injured, on maternity leave or long service leave. “It’s nice for us all to catch up for a coffee every now and then,” he said. Back at the police station, the brawler crew is kitting up for a busy night. “Hopefully they have a quiet night tonight,” Ldg Sen Const Kraus said. Heading into the busiest time of year for the peninsula, Police Life doubts they will.
8:45PM Keep connected with Mornington police at facebook.com/ eyewatchmorningtonpeninsula
Along the Mornington Jetty, police speak to people fishing, launching their boats and paddle boarding.
Police patrol Main Street, where the restaurants and pubs are getting busy.
Image On patrol 01 Const Spicer and Sen Const Caddy stand out amongst the families and people trying their luck at fishing on the pier. Editorial: Maria Carnovale Photography: John Pallot POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
Police Life spent a couple of days watching as a group of eager Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) recruits did their best to meet the entry requirements. A violent man has locked himself inside a house. Outside his front door is a group of prospective CIRT recruits who are tasked with arresting him before he can harm himself or others. One member of the group steps forward armed with a large ram that he slams into the door, while the rest of his team gather anxiously behind. The impact of metal hitting the door sends vibrations rippling through the area. The door is forced to swing open and the team files in, scanning and clearing each room methodically and backing each other up as they narrow in on where the offender is hiding. Of course, in this scenario, the man is a CIRT member playing the part. But he doesn’t go easy on the police who catch him. He lunges at them while they yell orders and tackle him to the ground before securing him and declaring the area safe. All the while, instructors are watching their every move. It is week four of the CIRT training course for 2017, which will be followed by defensive tactics, arrests, weapons and vehicle training. There is a mix of police taking part – from country police with years of policing experience to a couple of constables who have only been out of the Victoria Police Academy for two to three years.
POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
The training is intense and not for the faint-hearted. Not all police who attempt it are able to complete it.
“If someone doesn’t make it through (the training) we’ll give them advice on what they need to work on,” Sen Sgt Hayes said.
Leading the training of new CIRT members, Senior Sergeant Steve Hayes is making sure the unit recruits the best.
“We’ve had a number of members who didn’t pass the first time they tried and came back and are now doing really well in the team.
“Our people are out 24/7 in a patrol and response capability,” he said.
“We’re hoping the rest will get through.”
“There are response cars out all the time, assisting the divisions with high impact crime in their areas. “They’re also called out to sieges, prepared to respond to violent crime and are pre-deployed to large events to provide a highly trained tactical response.” It is no wonder the team puts its applicants through seven weeks of intense training, meant to test their physical ability, as well as their resilience and ability to make decisions under pressure. They are also being taught to use some of the weapons that are not usually available to general duties officers. “The use of less lethal tactics and weapons like sub-machine guns and OC munitions is reasonably new, it’s proactive, getting ahead of the game,” Sen Sgt Hayes said. “We’ve been looking at trends overseas to ensure we’re prepared, rather than having a major incident that we’re not ready for.” And the training ensures they are prepared. Fifteen police started the most recent course but, by week five, 13 remained - one withdrew due to injury and the other aimed to improve their fitness and try again.
Seven CIRT hopefuls failed to complete the last training course, which led to CIRT changing the way it goes about recruiting its people. Instructors now have increased interaction with the applicants and are able to get a better understanding of how each person is performing and their strengths and weaknesses. Training includes testing each person’s mental strength, their decision making and ability to adapt when they’re under pressure and fatigued. CIRT instructors also test each trainee’s communication and negotiation skills. It is these skills that make the best CIRT members. “We run high intensity scenarios to see how they react and the decisions they make,” Sen Sgt Hayes said. In October, the CIRT used their skills for real when a man’s family phoned Triple Zero (000) saying he was in a drug-induced psychosis, having used drugs constantly over five days. A police divisional van went to his house and found him holding two large knives. He was abusive towards the police, who were also told the man’s sister was hiding from him in a bedroom. CIRT members surrounded the property and negotiated with the man, which ended with his peaceful surrender and no injuries.
Constable Bree Sellwood is the only female in this training course, but as the word gets out, the CIRT think it’s only a matter of time before more see the appeal. “I’ve come into contact with CIRT a couple of times while working at Shepparton Police Station,” she said. “They turned up to a siege and the way they rolled up, deployed and set up a cordon was really interesting. It ended up being resolved peacefully. “Everyone I’ve worked with was a good operator and one of the senior sergeants encouraged me to look into joining CIRT.” The CIRT’s Inspector Stephen Reynolds said building the unit’s tactical skills meant there was a better response for the public. “We are a tactical team responding to high-risk policing incidents. That requires a certain type of person – they need a high level of maturity, need to be able to think on their feet and contribute to the team,” he said. “CIRT members are resilient, highly motivated, have a high level of physical fitness and an aptitude for developing new skills.” Seven police in the training course, including Const Sellwood, started their positions with CIRT in December. The remaining five who passed the course will move into the team as positions become available. Find out how you can join Victoria Police at policecareer.vic.gov.au
Image Highly trained Const Sellwood (on right) and other police run through training scenarios as part of the CIRT course. Editorial: Maria Carnovale Photography: Shane Bell POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
R O A D
REDEMPTION A group of teenagers who will soon be eligible for a Learnerâ€™s Permit were given a unique glimpse of the reality of road trauma and its rippling consequences.
POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
“I made just one stupid mistake that changed everyone’s lives,” Robert* said. He was 23 years old when he was sentenced to seven years in prison with a non-parole period of five years for culpable driving in 2014. On 16 January 2012, ignoring the advice of a sober friend, Robert, who had been drinking, got behind the wheel and drove up to 25 km/h over the 60 km/h limit. He struck two pedestrians who were crossing Malvern Road in Prahran. A man died and another was seriously injured. The sentencing judge described Robert as being “seriously intoxicated” at the time, with a blood-alcohol reading of more than three times the legal limit. “One of the hardest aspects of going to court was facing the victim’s family every day, having to face their mother, their brother, was very hard,” Robert said. “I didn’t have to jump behind the wheel of that car and drive, nor did I have to consume alcohol and drive. It was just one stupid mistake that changed everyone’s lives,” he said. “That’s something that I have to live with for the rest of my life, knowing that I’ve taken a person’s life and what makes it worse is that I didn’t do it intentionally.” Robert is sharing his personal experience with a young audience in Shepparton, for the Cool Heads road safety program, to encourage responsible driving.
He speaks to a room full of teenagers who will soon be making critical decisions on the roads, alongside police, other emergency services and people who have been affected by road trauma. Robert said his life-changing moment came down to a wrong choice by rejecting his friend’s advice and the other lesson from this experience was that people with a stubborn attitude like his, should be confronted without fear or favour.
“If your phone goes off, there’s no need to pick it up or take Snapchats of you cruising with your friends because it doesn’t take much to have a serious crash and even with something like forgetting to indicate, your inattention can easily cause an accident.” According to the Transport Accident Commission, in Victoria first-year drivers are four times more likely to be involved in a fatal or serious crash than more experienced drivers.
“At the end of the day you have a choice what you do behind the wheel of a car and you don’t need to jump into a car where the driver’s been drinking or get pressured into doing things you don’t want to,” he said.
Although drivers aged 18 to 25 years represent 10 per cent of all Victorian licence holders, they accounted for 19 per cent of all road fatalities in 2016 and more than three-quarters of victims were male.
“I’ve now got to live with the consequences of one Sunday night’s drinking when I was a normal kid, a young 21-year-old who had my whole life ahead of me and then by early Monday morning, I had killed someone literally in a split second.”
“I remember when I got my driver’s licence after turning 18, that freedom it gave me by driving a car, going to see my mates, going to the beach but I know that people forget about their responsibility and the last thing I want to see is someone end up in prison like I did,” Robert said.
He warned that these tragedies are not confined to drink-driving incidents, and can just as easily be caused by consuming drugs or hoon-driving.
“If a program like this existed when I was younger, it may have opened my eyes to not drink-drive and do such stupid things.”
“A lot of people become complacent about driving and it becomes second nature to use a mobile phone when they don’t realise they’re doing that and then it becomes a distraction from their driving,” Robert said. “People also get distracted whilst driving and it’s very easy to do, especially with the technology of modern cars, but the focus should always be 100 per cent on driving and nothing else.
He said he hoped others would stop their family and friends from making a bad decision. “Get their keys, throw them away, because it's not worth it for them to drive.” Cool Heads is a community-driven road safety program, coordinated by Victoria Police, targeting young drivers and parents to educate them of the consequences of risky and dangerous driving habits. *Name has been changed to protect victims’ and associated family members’ identities.
Find out more about the Cool Heads program at greatershepparton.com.au/ cool-heads
Image Long road Police have a visible presence on the roads to deter risky driver behaviour. Editorial: Chris Metevelis Photography: Shane Bell POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
TRACK WORK A trek with police along the Kokoda Track turned a young man’s life around and even resulted in a new career direction. Lachlan Todd says conquering the Kokoda Track shaped the way he tackles life today, thanks to the Victoria Police program. His experience was the reason he trained to become a Protective Services Officer (PSO) to help people, the way he had been helped. For the PSO, overcoming the physical and mental challenge of the Kokoda Track showed him the depth of his own resilience and he recalls four granite pillars with the values of the Kokoda Spirit – courage, endurance, mateship and sacrifice. “The values the soldiers kept in their minds are a great way to show people how to build yourself up. You don’t get taught this kind of stuff in school and definitely not on the street,” PSO Todd said.
POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
However, when he was in the classroom in high school, he admits he wasn’t that interested in learning. “I wasn’t into drugs or drinking but my attitude to life, school and work wasn’t acceptable,” he said. A fortuitous meeting in 2013 with Geelong’s Leading Senior Constable Andy Brittain and being accepted into Operation Newstart changed his course. The outdoor, vocational and therapeutic program is for young people at risk of not finishing secondary school. “As a teenager my view on what I would achieve in my life was ordinary, I didn’t care about my future. I visited the Police Academy as part of the program and I thought, ‘I’d like to be here one day’,” he said. “If I hadn’t met Andy and been involved in the mentoring, I know I would not be where I am today.” PSO Todd continued to create supportive networks at the Victoria Police Academy earlier
this year where he lived on campus for the 12-week PSO training course. Earlier on, Ldg Sen Const Brittain was one of those people and PSO Todd didn’t hesitate when he was invited to join him in Papua New Guinea for the gruelling 96km track. “Once you finish the track, it gives you drive and belief that you can overcome anything,” PSO Todd said. “It was a painful realisation – things go wrong and you need resilience when you reach those obstacles. “I want to motivate young people and show them goals are achievable, people will support you. “A negative mindset in life is not a great option. I’d love to walk the Kokoda Track again and become a mentor.” Image New beginning 01 PSO Todd has turned his life around, thanks to a Victoria Police program. Editorial: Andria Cozza Photography: Scott McNaughton
GET COLOURING! Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton is challenging children to get creative with this yearâ€™s Chief Commissioner's colouring competition. So itâ€™s time to dust off those crayons, colouring pencils and textas. Now in its third year, the competition is a chance for children to win great prizes and get to meet CCP Ashton, police from the Dog Squad and Air Wing, and their choppers too. There are three colouring designs to choose from, and a chance for children to have their say about how police keep them safe. Competition closes on 31 January, 2018. Full terms and conditions are available at police.vic.gov.au/kids
One of Victoria Police’s most experienced Dog Squad members Kaos is playing a big role in training his puppy Utah how to handle the job. Kaos has many years of experience in sniffing out suspects and chasing down offenders and is now barking orders to his ‘pawsome’ recruit.
Police keep me safe by...
Postal address: Parent/guardian name: Phone number: Email: Email your entry to KIDS-COLOUR-IN-MGR@police.vic.gov.au or send it to Chief’s Colour In Competition, PO Box 913, Melbourne, VIC 3001. Competition closes on 31 January, 2018. Full terms and conditions are available at police.vic.gov.au/kids
Police do their best to keep everyone safe and to teach people how they can stay safe. If you ever need help, be sure to look for a police officer or call Triple Zero (000) in an emergency.
Police keep me safe by...
Postal address: Parent/guardian name: Phone number: Email: Email your entry to KIDS-COLOUR-IN-MGR@police.vic.gov.au or send it to Chiefâ€™s Colour In Competition, PO Box 913, Melbourne, VIC 3001. Competition closes on 31 January, 2018. Full terms and conditions are available at police.vic.gov.au/kids
Victoria Police’s Water Police can help you stay safe while enjoying summer activities on the water and Daphne the helicopter has a bird’s eye view from above.
Police keep me safe by...
Postal address: Parent/guardian name: Phone number: Email: Email your entry to KIDS-COLOUR-IN-MGR@police.vic.gov.au or send it to Chief’s Colour In Competition, PO Box 913, Melbourne, VIC 3001. Competition closes on 31 January, 2018. Full terms and conditions are available at police.vic.gov.au/kids
O’LOUGHLIN LEGACY The O’Loughlin family, which includes Insp O’Loughlin said the family business of policing was part of his upbringing. 15 police officers and four public service employees, has provided “I remember listening to my uncles and Dad talk about work at family barbecues and I don’t think more than 300 years of service to I wanted to do anything but policing,” he said. Victoria Police. This year marks the 60th anniversary of a family tradition that began in 1957 when Barry, the first of five O’Loughlin brothers, joined Victoria Police. His brothers Robert, Neil, Doug and Geoff followed shortly after. The legacy continued with children of all five brothers and two of the three sisters becoming police and public service employees. Up to 15 O’Loughlins have served as police, five currently serving. Four have worked in public service positions, and two of those are still working. Earlier this year, the O’Loughlins gathered at the Victoria Police Academy where they were recognised for their service as Inspector Paul O’Loughlin became the fifth family member to reach officer level.
Doug O’Loughlin, former officer in charge of the Special Operations Group, said it was natural to look up to his older brothers who had joined before him. “There was never any talk of ‘you must join the police’,” he said. “With more than 400 kinds of jobs at Victoria Police, the variety also appealed to me.” In 1972, Barry, a detective sergeant in the Armed Robbery Squad died in a car accident, leaving behind his wife and four children.
“Not only was my family connected to the organisation but members who served with him continued a tradition he started of cricket competitions with local pub owners. “The relationship between police and publicans back then was really important – they shared a lot of information.”
Members of the O’Loughlin family have worked in various areas including 02investigations, prosecutions and training. Five O’Loughlins have reached officer rank, with Neil achieving the rank of deputy commissioner and serving as acting chief commissioner for a period in 2001. There have also been three superintendents and eight detectives in the family.
His daughter Justine was a baby when he died and her family was the first to receive help through Victoria Police Legacy. “Growing up as an O’Loughlin, there was a unique connection with Victoria Police,” she said.
Image Family tradition 01 The O'Loughlins united at the Victoria Police Academy. Editorial: Andria Cozza Photography: Parade Pics POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
A highly visible presence of Victoria Police members will form part of the blend of festive season and sporting crowds during the summer fixture of major events in the Melbourne CBD, coastal and regional areas. North West Metro Region’s Commander Russell Barrett said police will be deployed in various spots across the state to monitor and maintain public order. “Where there are crowds, police will be there to ensure everyone is safe and behaving responsibly,” he said. This will include state-wide road safety operations during the Christmas and New Year holiday periods to provide a highly visible policing presence for community reassurance involving a strong commitment to enforcement. “Particularly during large gatherings, we will be focusing on antisocial behaviour, violence, and drink and drug-driving,” Cmdr Barrett said. Major events such as the Boxing Day Ashes Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, New Year’s Eve celebrations in the city and the Australian Open tennis in mid-January at Melbourne Park, will also be closely monitored by the Victoria Police Monitoring and Assessment Centre.
Cmdr Barrett said although there was no specific or imminent threat, the safety and security of the Victorian community has always been a high priority with risk assessments being an integral part of planning for any major event. “As with all major events, we take the necessary steps to allocate the required resources to ensure the safety of the community by constantly monitoring and assessing our preparedness and response for a range of potential emergencies, with strong links to intelligence and other agencies,” he said.
“Transit police and protective services officers will also be deployed on trains and at train stations around Melbourne and key regional hubs,” he said.
“We will also be using our specialist squads where needed, including the Water Police, Mounted Branch, Operations Response Unit, Public Order Response Team and Air Wing.”
“By all means, we want everyone to enjoy themselves during these periods of high activity but we especially want them to behave responsibly and safely.” The penalty for being drunk in a public place is a fine of $622 and those caught drunk and disorderly can face a fine of $777.
• If possible, use a house-sitter to look after your home while you're away.
• Ask a neighbour to occasionally park their car in your driveway.
• Put a stop on your mail or ensure it is collected regularly.
• Set up a timer for a lamp or lights to come on at night, or for a radio to turn on and off.
• Arrange for a neighbour to take your bins in and out.
Cmdr Barrett said the Victoria Police presence will extend to busy CBD public transport hubs including Southern Cross, Flinders Street and Melbourne Central railway stations where members will be stationed.
“Victoria Police will put in extensive preparations for New Year’s Eve celebrations, where there will be uniform and plain clothes police patrols in our cities, towns and along the coastlines.
While you’re out enjoying yourself this holiday season, here are some tips to help keep your home safe.
• Cancel newspaper subscriptions uncollected newspapers are a signal to burglars that you're not home.
Victoria Police also has a drug-detection capability for public events such as music festivals, rave and dance parties, with the use of Narcotic Passive Alert Detector dogs to detect people in possession of illicit drugs including marijuana, cocaine, amphetamine, ecstasy, ice and heroin.
• Be careful when posting holiday plans on social media, which advertise that your home is vacant. • Secure valuables in a safe place.
• Lock all doors and windows. Find more crime prevention tips at police.vic.gov.au
Cmdr Barrett warned that during New Year’s Eve celebrations, fireworks posed a significant risk to health, fire and safety with a reminder that their use was confined only to licenced pyro technicians. “Anyone caught using fireworks without a licence can face criminal charges including jail for up to 15 years and thousands of dollars’ in fines,” he said. Over the next few months police will conduct a series of state-wide road policing operations including Operation Roadwise for the Christmas and New Year holiday period and Operation Amity, during the Australia Day long weekend. Roadwise will run from Friday, 15 December to Sunday, 7 January in all operational police regions and police service areas. The focus of both campaigns will be speed, fatigue, impaired driving, distraction offences such as mobile phone use and seatbelt compliance.
Image Summer events Police will be out and about at summer's long list of events in Melbourne and across the state. Editorial: Chris Metevelis POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
A DAY INTHE LIFE OF
CRIME SCENE OFFICERS Police Life went behind the lens with Narre Warren Crime Scene and learnt that being a good ‘finder’ isn’t just about knowing where to look. For a crime-solving technique discovered more than 100 years ago, fingerprints are still extremely effective.
With 12 years in crime scene and 26 years in policing under his belt, Ldg Sen Const Dousha has an easy way with people.
So as one of the busiest crime scene units in the state, Narre Warren collects a lot of them.
“I still like meeting people and talking to people and being in the community, I think the best street cops know their patch, they’re more hands on and more aware,” he said.
The team was recently honoured with a Divisional Commendation after it processed 15 per cent more crime scenes per member in the 2016-17 financial year than anywhere else – leading to the identification of more than 658 suspected offenders. That helped reduce the region’s aggravated burglaries – break-ins which occur when a person is home – from a peak of 55 a month in 2016-17 to between 11 and 25 a month so far this financial year. The methodical team starts every day the same way, being allocated reports of overnight burglaries and thefts before hitting the road. “We cover a 16-hour day from 7am to 10pm and tend not to examine at night because it’s easier to miss stuff when it’s dark, even with torchlight it’s not the same as daylight,” Sergeant Sheree Moore explained. “We provide a lot of statements to investigators, but rarely do we get called to give evidence in court. “We’re just finders, finders of evidence. The analysts of the fingerprints and DNA, they’re the experts. But our practices have to be spot on or they won’t get to give their evidence.” There’s no “just” about it though. Crime scene officers are often the first physical police officer a victim will come into contact with after reporting a crime over the phone, so they’re often unofficial counsellors when the situation sinks in. “It’s the sentimental loss that matters, jewellery and things that trigger memories,” Leading Senior Constable Scott Dousha said. “As you walk around with them working out where to dust for prints, they realise things that are missing and then the tears tend to come. I feel for them.” 22
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Local-born and bred, he’s seen the area change from paddocks to housing estates and seen crime trends and technology come and go. “The first thing I do when I pull up to a burglary is look to see what CCTV cameras are around on neighbouring homes,” Ldg Sen Const Dousha said. “Ten years ago you’d be lucky to have one camera in a street, now there’s often five. People are heeding our advice to get alarms and cameras and keep a look out for suspicious activity. “I always think to myself ‘why did the offenders pick this address?’” In both thefts that occurred on the day Police Life visited, the reason seemed to be opportunity – one an isolated property, another a work van in a quiet street. Speaking with the van owner, Ldg Sen Const Dousha was able find the prints most likely to be the offender’s by establishing how often the owner carried passengers and how he opened the side door. Officers dust for prints using black powder for light surfaces and white powder for dark surfaces though silver cars especially often require testing to decide which one to use. Ldg Sen Const Dousha’s tool kit also includes magna powder which is most commonly used for fingerprinting paper, and like its name suggests, it’s magnetic so officers can collect the excess powder and reuse it. “We note if a print appears to be left or right handed to help cut down the search time to match it,” he said.
“We also keep a look out for the MO – the modus operandi – and we do link these all the time at jobs we attend. It might be a similar way the offender entered the premises, the same car used at the jobs, same items targeted, same clothing on CCTV or same venues targeted. “We let the detectives know so they can collate the evidence. “We always find out who the prints belong to and it’s satisfying to get a match. We average more than one print identification a day.” As well as thefts, crime scene members work on stolen vehicles, fires, drive-by shootings and suicides and respond to general duties calls when required. Sgt Moore once even helped a woman who’d given birth on the side of the road. “We photograph suicides to assist the coroner and so the scene can be analysed and matched with the autopsy findings to ensure there wasn’t any suspicious circumstances,” Ldg Sen Const Dousha said. “We have two tow yards for recovered stolen vehicles in our region and in 2016-17 we processed 1,130 cars. Some cars come in clean as a whistle and others look lived-in with fast food wrappers and ice pipes. Social media has been good for recovering cars much quicker than before, people post a photo on community pages and the followers keep an eye out. “You never know what you’ll come across in this role. “I’ve thought about upgrading and becoming a sergeant but there’s good mateship and we work well together as a team.” Stay connected with police in Narre Warren at facebook.com/ eyewatchcasey Image Detailed work 01 Crime scene officers are tasked with looking for evidence of all types and sizes. Editorial: Anthea Cannon Photography: Shane Bell
Preparing the dayâ€™s kit.
Ldg Sen Const Dousha dusts for prints on a tradieâ€™s van, which was broken into overnight.
Ldg Sen Const Dousha speaks to two males after a report of them acting suspiciously.
Crime scene attend a suicide and liaise with other emergency services.
A stolen car which was set alight is photographed at one of two tow-yards in the region.
Ldg Sen Const Dousha examines a residential break-in. POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
SENIOR SERGEANT PETER FRANCIS, VICTORIA POLICE COMMUNICATIONS In the early hours of a Saturday in September 2004, Senior Sergeant Peter Francis’s only son Ben, 19, was assaulted in a one punch attack. The next day, which was Father’s Day, his family had to make the devastating decision to turn off Ben’s life support and agreed to donate his organs. Sen Sgt Francis said his life has never been the same. Sen Sgt Francis joined Victoria Police as a 16-year-old and has now racked up 38 years in the job. He has done stints as a general duties police officer, in Search and Rescue, as well as country policing, but has spent the last 15 years working in Police Communications. He took two years off during this time to concentrate on his family, but the lure of policing drew him back in. Despite his many years as a police officer, nothing could prepare him for the death of his son. “Ben was out with his friend and decided to walk home. It was on his way home that he was knocked unconscious from a single punch. He never recovered,” he said. “You live with this every single day.
“Over my years of being a police officer, I have had to deliver a number of death messages to family members and it just makes you think back to what those families must have been going through. “A police officer I knew came to our house to tell us Ben was in hospital and that it was pretty bad, it must have been so tough for him.” Ben’s attacker was convicted of serious assault and was given a community-based order. “My wife and I wanted to fight for Ben and one night went to a sentencing advisory meeting, where we met Janine Greening and became involved with the Homicide Victims’ Support Group. “That night and at many meetings after that we told our story and heard the stories of many of the victims who had lost loved ones. I was a police officer, but I was a victim of crime too. “Our relationship with the group developed from there. Janine was such a great support to us, she helped guide us through the court process as a victim’s family and gave advice based on her own experiences.” Sen Sgt Francis is no longer involved with the advocacy group, but keeps in touch with Ms Greening regularly. “The work that she and the group do is just terrific and is so worthwhile for victims,” he said.
A police officer and a victims of crime advocate met under the worst possible circumstances, but now share an unbreakable bond. Janine Greening, Forget Me Not Foundation Janine Greening has spent the past 17 years since her mother was sexually assaulted and murdered, fighting for the rights of serious crime victims.
“I now feel like I know Ben, I’ve heard so much about him and he sounded like such a great kid, I’m glad I have been able to help his family in some way. Peter is such a caring and compassionate police officer.”
“Mum was 75 when she was murdered by two known youth offenders in 2000 and it was just horrendous for me,” she said.
Ms Greening said she will never give up on fighting for victims of crime.
“In 2005 I helped set up the Homicide Victims’ Support Group and our priority was to provide crisis and long-term support and advocacy to victims of homicide and other serious crimes. “Our group is there to lend a hand and an ear at the most shocking time in people's lives. “We help link them to other support services, advocacy, just listening to them or even writing correspondence they may need help with. We’ve even helped victims write their victim impact statements.” Other members of the group included George Halvagis, father of Mersina, who was murdered by Peter Dupas in 1997 and John Magill, whose daughter, Jane Thurgood-Dove was murdered and her killer never brought to justice.
“We often meet people at the worst possible time of their lives and who have rarely been involved in the judicial system at all. At the very least we are able to provide an understanding ear to listen to and some advice around the process and what they can expect.” One of Ms Greening’s proudest accomplishments is having a tree and plaque dedicated to victims of serious crime, near the Police Memorial at Kings Domain, St Kilda Road, Melbourne. “It was really important for our group to have a memorial where families or friends, police or anyone really, could go and honour all victims of crime,” she said.
Ms Greening said while she wishes she’d met Sen Sgt Francis under different circumstances, she is so glad she did. “I didn’t know Ben, but I’ll never forget the day I met Peter and his wife. We have a bond through my mum, Marie, and their son, Ben and I just adore them,” she said.
Image Empathetic ear 01 Ms Greening and Sen Sgt Francis met under horrific circumstances, but now share a close bond. Editorial: Janae Houghton Photography: Scott McNaughton POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
OPERATION ANODIZATIONS When it comes to child exploitation material, the law doesn’t stop at the border. Sitting in his lounge room surrounded by police for the second time, the reality of the situation weighed down on the 57-year-old. Detectives from the Joint Anti-Child Exploitation Team (JACET) – a partnership between Victoria Police and Australian Federal Police – had combed his computers, traced his online activities and mapped his travel records. The net had well and truly closed in and he had nowhere to hide. Previously confident and claiming the images he’d taken of his step-daughter were all above board, he finally admitted he’d spent three years bribing her to pose naked during his visits to the Philippines.
Investigator Senior Constable Cheryl Goad had sorted through 23,000 pornographic images on the man’s computers and found 2,700 were child exploitation, ranging from the lowest to highest category of seriousness. The most recent were of the man’s stepdaughter and her cousins.
“When I met with the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions they told me about some new legislation.”
“He admitted he took the photos in the Philippines and that he’d bribed them, paying them 1,000 pesos each, about $30,” Sen Const Goad said.
The Mornington man was charged with producing child pornography outside of Australia and pleaded guilty in the County Court.
“He said it had started when she was approximately nine years old and that he’d offered them money and bought them things because he knew they didn’t have much.”
It was the first Victorian prosecution of its kind.
To Sen Const Goad, the man’s attempt at explaining his behaviour was “almost the epitome of exploitation” but she feared justice wouldn’t be done as the material was produced outside of Australia. 26
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“I charged him with state and commonwealth offences but I thought I couldn’t charge him with the state offence of make or produce child exploitation material,” she said.
“It started when we received information that a Mornington man had posted images of children on the internet,” Sen Const Goad said. “Some of the photos were of young teenage girls in partial underwear, which appeared to be taken in a hotel room with a male leg visible on the bed.
“Through our investigations we found he’d also posted images of his car, which included his registration, and we were able to identify him through that. “He had named some of the victims in the photos and through social media we were able to find the girl pictured and found images that matched the man. “We executed a warrant on his house and one particular picture of the girl was on his fridge.” According to research by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Philippines is the world capital for child exploitation material, with poverty and humanitarian crises fuelling the destructive industry. A 2014 report found an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 children were in the sex industry in the Philippines.
“The man possibly thought he wouldn’t get caught,” Sen Const Goad said. “People who commit these offences think they’re untouchable in these countries where child exploitation is prolific. “I think people need to know about this legislation and I think it shows how seriously the Australian government takes child exploitation, and that we’re concerned for children all around the world, not just in Australia.” The man was jailed for one year and nine months on four Commonwealth charges, received an 18-month Community Corrections Order on a further state charge, and was placed on the sex offender registry for life.
In 2016-17 JACET operations led to 42 children being rescued from sexual or physical harm, and in 2015-16, 47 children were rescued.
In an emergency call Triple Zero (000). If you would like to report a crime or have information about a crime, contact your local police station or call Crime Stoppers on 1300 333 000.
Image Saving children New anti-child exploitation legislation has a far greater reach, seeking to protect children all over the world, not just in Australia. Editorial: Anthea Cannon
POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
Anti-hoon laws give police the power to remove vehicles from unsafe drivers. Police Life found out what happens to the seized cars.
A man is pacing outside an office reception in an industrial area of Melbourne’s northern suburbs, occasionally pausing to drag on a cigarette. Those unknown to him may consider him anxious and worried, but to the staff he was dealing with earlier inside, he is simply “a hoon” who is struggling to cope with the consequences of a shameful title.
The VISU depot at Preston accommodates about 800 impounded vehicles in a covered, secured area about 20 per cent bigger than the Melbourne Cricket Ground, in addition to 200 other cars in 64 regional depots across Victoria. These cars are all types and models, from an unregistered, unroadworthy, early model Toyota Corolla at best worth $50, to a Lamborghini, Ferrari or McLaren valued at $800,000.
Two mates brought him to the Victoria Police Vehicle Impoundment Support Unit (VISU) to retrieve his car where he is contemplating the payment of a required fee, just over $900, after venting his anger towards its administrative staff.
Vehicle impoundments are part of anti-hoon legislation introduced in Victoria in 2006, to make roads safer and reduce road trauma by giving police the power to impound, immobilise or permanently confiscate cars driven in a dangerous manner.
VISU manager Kevin Wilson explains that most people his staff deal with typically won’t behave in this way, although they are prepared to deal with such cases and occasionally will be reminded of the extent of a person’s anger.
A driver committing a hoon-related offence initially could have their vehicle impounded for 48 hours but changes to the legislation in 2011 increased this to 30 days, regardless of who owns the vehicle.
“In June 2016, a volley of shots was fired from the street towards the building in a drive-by shooting that happened around midnight, when fortunately there was no one in the front office,” he said.
Changes to these road rules also revealed culprits are not typically confined to young, audacious drivers. An 81-year-old woman was clocked driving at 164 km/h in her Holden Vectra near Lake Boga, and a 70-year-old farmer was caught speeding at 160 km/h near Horsham.
Further changes to the Road Safety Act in 2015 meant anyone driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 or higher could automatically have their vehicle seized and if the same driver accrued three hoon-related offences in six years, their vehicle could be permanently forfeited. More than 52,000 vehicles have been impounded in Victoria since 2006, with the VISU currently processing about 7,000 annually, including 200 which are permanently seized or forfeited. “There’s a perception that most vehicles that are impounded are crushed but that is not what actually happens,” Mr Wilson said. “Every car that comes through VISU must go through an assessment process including identifying its NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) safety rating and if it’s not a high figure, or a collectable, then the vehicle will likely be destroyed.” Those earmarked for destruction are more likely to be shredded at a metal recycling depot despite the common misconception they are ‘crushed’. Almost 1,600 vehicles were in this category last year.
POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
“Once a vehicle is forfeited under the legislation, it gives us one of three options to dispose of it depending on its condition and that is, it can be sold by auction, it can be gifted, or it can be destroyed or shredded,” Mr Wilson said.
The volume of vehicles temporarily or permanently removed from Victoria’s roads may appear staggering but to police members empowered to do this with support from the VISU, it is regarded as a badge of honour.
“For those that are gifted, we will often provide them to first-responders like the Metropolitan Fire Brigade or State Emergency Service for training purposes, when in the past, these groups may have bought a simple car-shell from the wreckers,” he said.
“There’s a mentality among some that a licence allows them to do whatever they want to in a car and that’s where we have police who now say ‘we’re not going to accept this behaviour’, particularly in highway patrols,” Mr Wilson said.
“A lot of these cars are also being used in school programs to teach students how to pull a motor or gearbox apart.”
“In fact, one member, Acting Sergeant Ken Zeffert from Brimbank Highway Patrol, has impounded about 350 vehicles and he’s a stand-out, but there are others who are up there as well and are happy with their results because they see a lot of death and trauma on the roads from speeding.
Mr Wilson said the cost to recover a vehicle was often the most common reason why a vehicle was abandoned by its owner. “People are often put off by the cost and rather than paying to retrieve their car, will choose to walk away,” he said. “We’re also getting more unregistered vehicles being impounded because they’re identified a lot more by automated number plate recognition and often they’re in such a state, they aren’t worth the cost of registering.”
“This program is changing driver behaviour but it’s also about getting cars off the road that shouldn’t be there. “If you look at the number of vehicles out there, particularly the ones that are dangerous, or if you consider the way some are driven, by taking them off the roads, then I believe we have saved a lot of road trauma and potentially saved lives.”
BEHIND THE IMPOUND SCENES Acting Sergeant Ken Zeffert from Brimbank Highway Patrol is responsible for removing more than 350 vehicles from the road under anti-hoon laws. Among the more notable are a hungry driver who was clocked at 196 km/h heading to a fast-food outlet and someone who brought new meaning to the word ‘lapdog’. A dog on the lap of a motorist drew A/Sgt Zeffert’s attention to a repeat disqualified driver whose car was impounded for 30 days. There was also the driver with a suspended licence who rang his mate for a lift because his car was about to be towed away. The trusty friend, who had a disqualified licence, dutifully turned up to have his car also end up on a tow truck. Image Removing hoon vehicles Mr Wilson said roads were safer by impounding unroadworthy and unregistered cars. Editorial: Chris Metevelis Photography: Shane Bell POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
BADGE AND BEYOND
POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
A former detective known for investigating religious cult ‘The Family’ has taken his skills and passion for policing into a different realm - helping the families of police. Lex de Man was involved in some of the best-known cases in Victoria’s policing history, including exposing a religious cult in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs for exploiting more than a dozen children. Now, as the chief executive officer of Victoria Police Legacy (VPL), and reflecting on his many achievements, he remarkably attributes its genesis to a roll of salami. In December 1977, aged 17, having left school in Year 11, Mr de Man was employed at a local supermarket where he had an argument with a manager. “It was a silly dispute with the delicatessen manager, over a salami roll,” he said. “I was in charge of the dairy case and this manager put one of her salami rolls in the dairy fridge and when I told her to move it she didn’t, so we had a blue over salami,” he recalled, smiling.
It was while investigating a primary school fire in Monbulk as a detective in the Arson Squad in 1987, that he was told one of its students was from a local religious cult.
“My desire is for every member of Victoria Police to talk about VPL and recognise its support towards police families who have lost loved ones,” he said.
This was the so-called cult known as ‘The Family’ from the late 1960s, based at Ferny Creek in the Dandenong Ranges and run by Anne and William Hamilton-Byrne.
“We’ve now got more than 1,000 police legatees including 160 children and we’re getting more at a younger age, with our youngest being 10 months old, to our oldest legatee who is 106.”
Anne deemed herself as the reincarnation of Jesus Christ.
Ninety per cent of Victoria Police members contribute towards VPL and Mr de Man hopes one day this figure will be 100 per cent.
Over seven years, the couple indoctrinated 14 children through members of the cult, illegal adoptions, changing their identities, falsifying birth certificates and subjecting them to strict discipline and rituals including dyeing their hair blonde and making them wear identical clothing. In later years came claims of children being subjected to beatings, starved, frequently dosed with psychiatric drugs and upon reaching adolescence, being forced to take part in initiations involving the drug LSD. In 1989 Mr de Man joined the Victoria Police taskforce, Operation Forest, which culminated five years later with the extradition of the couple who had fled to the USA.
“It changed my life forever because I was so angry and I never normally went home for lunch, but on this occasion, I did, and walked past the Greensborough Police Station where I noticed a sign on the window saying ‘Join Your Force Now’.”
They were to face conspiracy to defraud and perjury charges in Australia, but eventually pleaded guilty in the Victorian County Court to the lesser charge of making a false declaration and were fined $5,000 each. It was deemed there was not enough evidence to press more serious charges.
Fuelled by frustration, it was the catalyst for a brilliant career but only after convincing his mum to sign a consent form to become a police cadet that led to 18 years’ service in Victoria Police.
“I was hoping for a maximum penalty but in the end she pleaded guilty with her husband on perjury charges (relating to the falsification of birth certificates) and was gutted by the lenient penalty,” Mr de Man said.
Four months earlier in September 1977, he joined the Country Fire Authority (CFA) as a volunteer with Yarrambat Brigade and after 10 years was appointed Captain.
William died in 2001, while Anne, 95, lives in a nursing home with dementia.
“The experience that I was gaining at Victoria Police actually helped me in the CFA leadership role and vice versa and I suppose that was one of the reasons I ended up in the Arson Squad,” Mr de Man said.
“It’s one of those things that as a member and contributor you might not see a benefit because you may not be here, then on the other hand, you may have lost a partner and need support,” Mr de Man said. “When a member or a member’s partner tells us their son or daughter is ready for driving lessons and we say ‘don’t worry, we’ll pay for that’ or they’re off to university and VPL will help pay their HECS bill, you know, it’s a great thing.”
“She is the most evil person that I have ever known,” Mr de Man said. In 1995 Mr de Man left policing for a position with the CFA and worked in various executive roles over 20 years including during the Black Saturday bushfires. Nowadays Mr de Man enjoys a more sedate role at VPL, driven by an ambition to have every police member lend their support towards this non-profit organisation.
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Image Strong support 01 Mr de Man is focused on supporting police families who have lost loved ones. 02 As a young police constable. Editorial: Chris Metevelis Photography: Shane Bell POLICE LIFE | SUMMER 2018
Miranda Lord General duties, Narre Warren Police Station
“I wanted to join Victoria Police since I was a child. Both my parents were police officers and my sister has also recently graduated. I joined firstly because I wanted something exciting. I knew I wouldn’t be happy in a 9 to 5 ‘regular job’ – I needed something with variety and challenges. Secondly I joined because I love people. I love talking to lots of different people. Helping people, and working in a large team that’s always changing. And finally I joined to do a community service, I like knowing that I am contributing to keeping people safer and reducing crime. My advice to people looking to join Victoria Police is be prepared. I met up with a friend in the job to discuss policing and my application. If you don’t know someone in Victoria Police, go into a quiet local station and ask for some advice. You need to know what to expect on a daily basis and you have to be able to chat to people.
I didn’t have trouble with the fitness test but for the panel interviews I really read a lot about Victoria Police and its values and found examples from my life to demonstrate them. For me, the process took a while to get through, patience is the key but it definitely pays off. When you’re driven to do something, it’s not hard to wait but you can call for updates to keep you motivated. I loved high school and the Academy is similar to that, you form strong relationships with your squad mates. The workload was quite intense. It had been three to four years since I was at school and it was a shock to the system to get into a study routine again. On my first day at a station I turned up an hour early, it was so daunting but everyone remembers what it’s like starting out and is really helpful.
I’m not sure what specialisation I might get into yet, I think it’s really important to do the groundwork and then get a taste of different areas once you’ve got your foundations down pat. There are plenty of opportunities to get secondments to different units. One stand-out job for me was helping a woman after her son passed away. I stayed with her for three hours and I was so glad I could be that support for someone in their time of need. It’s a really rewarding job, the highs are really high. It’s emotionally fulfilling and I encourage anyone to give it a go.”
Published on Dec 12, 2017