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THE VICTORIA POLICE MAGAZINE
Constable Angela Rose Taylor - WE REMEMBER YOU 30 YEARS SINCE THE RUSSELL STREET BOMBING
PLUS REDUCING THEFT FROM CARS > A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A FIREARMS OFFICER OUT WITH THE SPECIAL OPERATIONS GROUP > SUNBURY’S FOCUS ON TACKLING ICE AND MORE
30 years on The Russell Street bombing took the life of a young constable and changed Victoria.
Vehicle theft Police are reminding the community to lock up to prevent vehicle theft.
COVER: Remembering Const Taylor 30 years after the Russell Street tragedy. 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
SOG The elite team takes on Victoria’s most dangerous criminals.
Historic stables The Mounted Branch’s Southbank stables close as they move to a new facility.
Managing Editor Sandra Higgins Editor Maria Carnovale Journalists Janae Houghton Jane McCubbin 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 Career in Focus
Law protects family
A new law helps prevent the abduction of two Australian children.
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF COMMISSIONER This is a particularly special edition of Police Life as we remember the life and service of Constable Angela Rose Taylor. Angela was the first policewoman to be murdered in the line of duty in Australia, and her service continues today through a range of dedicated medical facilities named in her honour. We’re privileged to hear from Marilyn and Arthur Taylor, who have generously shared memories of their daughter in this edition. Their reflections are a reminder of Angela as a spirited young woman, friend and sister, who touched the lives of many people and I thank them for sharing their memories with us.
The strength that emerges in times of difficulty can be truly inspiring, and whilst the events of 30 years ago have had a significant impact on the Victorian community, our recovery is what has defined us. We have grown amid adversity, supported by the policing family and the broader Victorian community. The values that Angela embodied; values such as honesty and commitment to service; continue to be the focus of Victoria Police today, and we reflect on those values in remembering Angela’s legacy.
Graham Ashton AM Chief Commissioner Follow CCP Ashton on Twitter at @GrahamAshtonCCP
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
MAKING NEWS For the latest police news visit vicpolicenews.com.au
DRAWING OUT A WINNER Victoria Police can now count 13 very enthusiastic new recruits among its ranks after a recent 'deputisation ceremony' at a new police complex in Attwood. The ‘little coppers’ were winners of the Chief’s children’s colouring competition and were treated to a tour of the facility, which will be the shared home of the Dog Squad and Mounted Branch. Chief Commissioner of Police (CCP) Graham Ashton was there to greet the children aged between three and 11 ahead of a morning of entertainment. The police dogs showed off their keen sense of smell during a hide and seek exercise and the horses displayed their incredible agility, mirroring the children's steps during a demonstration. Some of the children could be heard yelling, “I’m doing it, they’re following me.”
The children delighted in the interactions rewarding the animals with plenty of pats and affection.
Some of the responses included ‘holding my mum or dad’s hand’ or ‘keeping close to a trusted adult’.
The children were particularly excited.
CCP Ashton had the difficult task of selecting the winners.
Charlie, 4, showed a great fondness for CCP Ashton saying ‘hi Chief’ any chance he got and declaring he spent two days colouring his winning entry. CCP Ashton presented the winners with a certificate, police pack and Constable T. Bear. “It was a fantastic experience and something I look forward to doing next year," he said. CCP Ashton was also greeted with a salute when he walked past a trio of children, who had just been 'sworn-in' as deputies. “It was wonderful to spend time with the children. Their enthusiasm was infectious and brought a smile to many people’s faces, including my own,” he said. About 500 children entered the competition that also asked them to share their safety messages.
“This is the first time I’ve held a colouring competition and I was absolutely blown away with the response,” he said. “I personally looked at every entry and can say they were of a very high standard making it difficult to choose. “Thank you to everyone who participated and don’t forget to keep an eye out for the next colouring competition.” See the back page of Police Life for some of the colouring entries. Image Colouring competition 01 C CP Ashton said he was blown away
by the response to the competition and enjoyed going through the entries. Editorial: Jane McCubbin POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
SMALL TALK VOXPOP
DID YOU KNOW?
How can people prevent theft of or theft from a motor vehicle? SENIOR CONSTABLE MARTIN NUNN Doncaster Police Station
“Store your car keys out of sight at home to avoid getting your car stolen in the event of a burglary.” CONSTABLE CAMERON ROBINSON Doncaster Police Station
It is an offence to leave your vehicle unlocked and you could receive a $152 fine. Not locking your vehicle or leaving the windows open while it is unattended could result in a fine, however, it is not one police issue often. Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill said police did not want to fine people, simply prevent thefts occurring. “We just want people to hear our message - never leave valuables or personal items in your car and lock up,” he said.
FACES OF VIC POL
“Remove any valuables when leaving your vehicle and ensure it is secured before you leave.” SERGEANT MARK REDLEY Dandenong Police Station
“Take your valuables out of the car and don’t leave anything in clear view. Keep the car secure.”
BE PART OF THE STORY Join the Conversation Police Life loves hearing what you think about the magazine, your local police and Victoria Police in general. Write, fax or email Police Life at: Police Life GPO Box 913 Melbourne, 3001 FAX: 9247 5982 Email: email@example.com
Police dog Diesel passed away in January as a result of ongoing medical issues. The Victoria Police Dog Squad’s Leading Senior Constable Mark Gray and Diesel worked together since 2009. During this time they were part of more than 120 arrests and took part in countless other incidents where they worked to locate missing people and track offenders.
“His working ability was amazing,” Ldg Sen Const Gray said. “He was brave, fearless and fiercely loyal. This trait gave my wife, who is also in the job, great peace of mind when we went to work at night.” “Diesel will be sorely missed. We work and live with our dogs, so spend more time with them than our families in some cases. He truly was a brilliant dog.” Photo courtesy of Margaret Burin, ABC News
Diesel came from a strong bloodline of police dogs with his father and three half-brothers also serving Victoria Police.
See more Faces of VicPol at facebook.com/victoriapolice 4
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
BEHIND THE BADGE
RICHARD LODDER Rank: Sergeant/Fingerprint Expert Age: 57 Graduated: 1977 Station: Fingerprint Sciences Group Why did you decide to join Victoria Police? I wanted to join the police force as I felt this was the most relevant way of doing something for other people. I knew even in the early stages that there was a great range of careers available in the organisation. You have been a fingerprint expert for many years, tell us about your role and why you enjoy it. I have been in fingerprints for more than 37 years, qualifying as a fingerprint expert in 1983. Over the years I have applied my knowledge in various aspects of policing, including crime scenes, latent identifications, training crime scene officers, disaster victim identification, applying and teaching advanced latent development techniques, and providing expert evidence in court. You recently won a Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal for your work on the MH17 plane crash investigation in Ukraine. What was your role there? When I expressed my interest in being involved in the MH17 disaster victim identification, I had no idea if I would be sent to Ukraine or the Netherlands. I found myself in the Netherlands Police Headquarters
working alongside Dutch and Australian Federal Police fingerprint experts. Our work involved searching and matching the victims’ fingerprints with their fingerprints before death. Tell us about being there and helping with the investigation. The Malaysian victims could be identified by fingerprints on their identity cards, the Dutch victims could be identified by fingerprints in their passports. Many Australian victims could only be identified from latent fingerprints developed from personal items in their homes. The identifications were essential to assist in providing closure for the families and ensuring the correct body was returned to the relevant family. What is an interesting case/incident you have worked on? In the 1990s I was dealing with some inquiries from the Spectrum Taskforce investigating the abduction of Karmein Chan, when I discovered a number of old major crime latent prints that had never been searched on our national fingerprint computer. I systematically searched all of these, identifying more than 200 victims, suspects and offenders. This was before cold case was part of our vocabulary, we just called it ‘back-capture’.
DID YOU KNOW? Latent is a term used to describe fingerprints that are not visible. They can be processed to become visible using a powder, light or chemicals. Editorial: Janae Houghton Photography: Shane Bell POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
IN BRIEF PROACTIVE POLICING STORIES
PRIDE MARCH A record number of Victoria Police employees gathered in St Kilda for the annual Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Pride March. The crowd showed a clear appreciation for police involvement, reserving some of their loudest cheers for the contingent, which was accompanied by the Victoria Police Pipe Band. Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton led the contingent in the 15th consecutive year that Victoria Police has participated. “We are a diverse and inclusive organisation,” he said. “Participation in the Pride March reflects the diversity of our organisation and demonstrates our support for LGBTI staff and the broader community.”
GIFT OF LIFE FOR KIDNEY RECIPIENT
ATTARD’S A HOUSEHOLD NAME
The Operations Response Unit’s Senior Constable Dean Turner and First Constable Thomas O’Dwyer were recently reunited with kidney recipient Levalda Adams at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
Policing is certainly in the blood for the Attard family, with the fourth family member graduating from the Victoria Police Academy recently.
Ms Adams was on a waiting list for a kidney and hospital staff were trying to contact her to tell her one was available. They weren’t able to get in touch with her and contacted police.
Constable Paul Attard was presented with his badge by his two sons Senior Constable David Attard and protective services officer Stephen Attard.
Sen Const Turner and Const Thomas found Ms Adams collapsed at the rear of her property.
Const Attard’s brother Leading Senior Constable Stephen Attard is also a police member, however, was unable to attend the graduation.
Had it not been for their quick thinking and timely treatment by hospital staff, it’s unlikely Ms Adams would have survived.
Photo courtesy of Today's Photos.
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
VIBRANT COLOURS LIFT ST KILDA STREETSCAPE St Kilda Police Station was recently transformed into a blank canvas for Australian street artist Vexta, who was commissioned to produce a vibrant artwork at the rear of the building. A large mural now covers part of the wall, which backs onto a car park. The City of Port Phillip funded the artwork to deter vandals targeting the wall and surrounding areas. Senior Sergeant Daniel Baulch said feedback had been good. “From our perspective it’s more about giving the area a positive feel and vibe,” he said. “We’ve found that people really seem to like it. “It’s really pleasing to see people stop and appreciate the mural. “The artwork also has the added bonus of deterring taggers who are generally reluctant to paint over an artist’s work out of respect.” St Kilda police work closely with the council’s clean-up crews who collect spray cans and keep records of graffiti tags before feeding evidence back to police. This information is then used to prosecute offenders.
GRAMPIANS RIDE TO REMEMBER More than 460 motorcycle riders and pillion passengers took part in the Grampians Ride to Remember in Ararat.
ODD SPOT CORNER Why the long face?
This year’s ride raised money for the Jason Bond Perioperative Unit Project at East Grampians Health Service.
Police horse Unity recently saddled up to the Victoria Police Academy photographer and was a little hoarse after performing ceremonial duties at a graduation parade, where he thought he was the mane event.
Jason Bond was a recruit at the Victoria Police Academy, who was killed in a road collision in March 2011. He was also an Ararat resident.
Giddy up to page 30 to read about Unity and his horse friends as they trot off to their new facility in Attwood.
Before taking off, patron of the ride, Road Policing Assistant Commissioner Doug Fryer gave a speech about the importance of safety on the roads. Joining AC Fryer in leading the ride was Mr Bond’s brother, Senior Constable Brad Bond from the Critical Incident Response Team.
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
Remembering Angela It may be 30 years since Marilyn and Arthur Taylor lost their daughter, Angela, following the Russell Street bombing but at times it feels like yesterday.
Angela Rose Taylor was born on 26 August, 1964, and was a fun-loving, intelligent child who shared a happy childhood with her brothers Michael and Byron. Mr Taylor fondly remembers Angela in primary school, with her best friend, writing, producing and then starring in their own stage shows. “Funnily enough, they always gave themselves the biggest parts, they had so much fun doing it,” he said. Mrs Taylor said Angela always had a strong sense of right and wrong and what was fair. She went on to do a law subject at high school and this is when the first seeds of becoming a police officer were planted. Angela finished high school after Year 10 and worked at Just Jeans for a year. Angela then decided policing was for her, so she returned to school and completed Year 11 and 12 in one year. She did that successfully and in 1984 joined Victoria Police. In a letter that formed part of her police application, Angela wrote about the aspects of policing that appealed to her.
Angela's first jobs were at Oakleigh and Lilydale police stations before being posted to the City Watchhouse at Russell Street. “She just loved being a police officer,” Mrs Taylor said. “She went off to work so happy every day.” But tragically her life was cut short on Easter Thursday, 27 March, 1986 when a car exploded outside the Russell Street Police Headquarters. Angela received burns to 70 per cent of her body and was rushed to the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Sadly, she died 24 days later on 20 April. She was only 21. It devastated her family, police and the general public. “For the three weeks she was still alive, we arrived at her bedside at 8am and they had to ask us to leave at 11pm,” Mr Taylor said. “She fought so hard.” The Taylors describe that time of their life as surreal and said they couldn’t have made it through without the love and support from family, friends, Victoria Police and the community. “When Angie was in the hospital, the police were very protective of our privacy and they put a bubble around us,” Mr Taylor said. Mrs Taylor said despite losing Angela so many years ago, sometimes it seemed like just yesterday.
“It would also provide me with the means of being part of the legal process, for which I have a keen interest.”
“I describe it as being like the ocean. Just like a wave, the emotional reality reaches its peak and then it comes crashing down. It has been like this for 30 years,” she said.
Finishing up as dux of her squad, Angela had a brilliant career ahead of her.
There are also a number of tributes set up through Victoria Police and the Blue Ribbon Foundation. The Angela Taylor memorial run is held annually around Albert Park Lake in Melbourne and has been going for 28 years. The Taylor family go along each year. “The first few were really tough to attend,” Mr Taylor said. “We feel it is important for us to go, to support so many good people who help make it happen.” There are several Angela Taylor Memorial scholarships and awards presented each year. “All of these things keep Angela’s memory alive. She never signed off and continues to do work for Victoria,” Mrs Taylor said.
“We were really well looked after.”
“Police work would enable me to work within the community and aid its individuals directly,” she wrote.
Angela also wrote about her career aspirations of working in police public relations and criminal investigation.
The Taylors have been inspired by the number of tributes, events and memorials named in Angela’s honour. Her former schools in Canberra have an award in her name and a memorial garden and there is a pretty rose named Angela Rose Taylor, that features at the Werribee State Rose Garden.
“Angela wasn’t just a policewoman. She was our daughter, a sister, an aunty, a friend, a neighbour. She was an important person to so many people.”
Images Angela's rose 01 The Taylors admire the roses named in honour of their daughter. 02 Angela's letter of application to Victoria Police. 03 Angela was the first Australian policewoman to be murdered in the line of duty. Editorial: Janae Houghton Photography: Craig Sillitoe
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
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01 POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
Russell Street 30 YEAR S ON On the 30th anniversary of the Russell Street bombing Victoria Police remembers the day that changed policing forever. A constant throng of traffic moves through Russell Street. Everyone is on the move, whether they are going to work, dining at the many restaurants or simply passing through. The Old Melbourne Gaol and surrounding precinct at the top end of the street is particularly popular with visitors drawn to its haunted halls and the mysteries hidden within the neighbouring City Watch House and Magistrates' court. Directly over the road stands an art deco inspired skyscraper, formerly the Russell Street Police Headquarters. This too has its stories. In some ways not much has changed since that fateful day when a car bomb hidden in a stolen commodore was detonated outside the police complex on Easter Thursday, 27 March, 1986.
Blue Ribbon’s chairman Bill Noonan started raising money in Const Taylor’s memory not long after her death.
Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said it was important to honour those impacted by the events of that day.
“I will always hold a special place in my heart for Angela and for her family who have always been extremely supportive of our work.”
“We continue to remember the many heroic actions of people, who didn’t hesitate to act, who went above and beyond to help their colleagues, in what was an incredibly confronting situation,” he said.
The Angela Rose Taylor Award for Academic Highest Achiever was named in honour of Const Taylor’s achievement as dux of her squad.
“The events of that day changed our organisation – we hadn’t experienced anything of that magnitude in Victoria before, and the impacts continue to this day.
The building and surrounding area was a thriving hub of activity much like today, but in an instant everything changed.
“It’s important that we take strength from the way we rally around each other in times of need, one of our strengths as a policing community is that we look out for each other when things get tough.”
Dozens of people were injured, some seriously and a young constable paid the ultimate price when she died from injuries sustained in the blast 24 days later. She was the first Australian policewoman murdered in the line of duty.
Each year since the attack police have come together in memory of Const Taylor and reflect on the events of that day. This year will be particularly significant with a commemorative service to be held.
Constable Angela Rose Taylor had only been in the job for two years and was working in the City Watch House on the day of the explosion. She was crossing the road to get lunch when the bomb went off.
Const Taylor's parents, Marilyn and Arthur, will be at the service with Mrs Taylor speaking at the event to honour her daughter’s memory.
Not far from her, Constable Carl Donadio was also seriously injured with a punctured lung, severed kidney and serious shrapnel wounds to his leg, but after five weeks of rehabilitation he returned to work and continued with his policing career for another 14 years. One of the biggest manhunts in Victoria Police history followed the attack. Police from the Homicide, Arson, Major Crime and Fraud squads were tasked to find those responsible, and after two months of tireless investigative work, they did. 10
The attack deeply impacted the policing and broader community. It also changed police procedures including restrictions on parking near police complexes and screening of mail and parcels. For Victorians, it was the first time they had to consider a terrorist attack could be home grown. Something police are now regularly confronted with in the heightened security environment.
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
Although there has been enormous grief from the tragedy 30 years ago, it has also galvanised a community with many events and fundraisers dedicated to Const Taylor. Some tribute events include the annual Albert Park Lake fun run, golf and bowls days and awards. Trauma facilities at the Monash Medical Centre and Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) have also been named in her honour through the Blue Ribbon Foundation. This year, the Blue Ribbon Foundation has donated $150,000 to the RMH’s Intensive Care Unit. The money will be used to fund a Critical Care Staff Station.
He said they chose to fund the ICU as it provided an invaluable service to the community. “The funding is an example of how we continue Angela’s service to the community by helping to save the lives of others,” Mr Noonan said.
The award is presented to the highest academic achievers from each squad of constables and protective services officers. Sunshine Police Station’s Constable Lauren Koehler received the award when she graduated in November last year and will also speak at the Easter Thursday service. “It’s a pretty big anniversary and a huge honour to be taking part,” she said. “Angela’s story reminds us of the risks associated with the job and how important it is to look after each other. I’m sure Angela’s legacy won’t be forgotten within Victoria Police.” To find out more about Const Taylor fundraising events or to donate to the Blue Ribbon Foundation visit www.remember.org.au on the internet.
The Blue Ribbon Foundation was founded in 1998 to remember all members of Victoria Police killed in the line of duty. Images Russell Street 01 Police examine the scene of the bombing. 02 Russell Street today. 03 Const Taylor gets a congratulatory hug from her mother. 04 Const Taylor on her police graduation. Editorial: Jane McCubbin
30 30 30 30 CAUGHT It was later revealed the main offenders had a hatred of police. One man was committed to life imprisonment and another man was sentenced to 40 years with a 28-year minimum. 01
04 POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
Advanced vehicle security technology has changed the way thieves steal cars, driving an appeal for people to do more to avoid becoming victims of vehicle-related theft. The profile of a thief stealing a car no longer involves a person reaching under the dash and hot-wiring or forcing the ignition. Victoria Police’s Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill has responsibility for reducing vehiclerelated theft and said criminals were continually adapting to improvements in vehicle security to access and steal cars. “The motor vehicle industry has delivered improved security systems, effectively eliminating hot-wiring as an option for thieves,” he said. “Vehicle theft is increasingly challenging for police, with evidence showing that seven out of 10 thefts involve the use of the vehicles’ keys.” Data is also showing changes in the locations where vehicle thefts occur, with a shift away
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
from shopping centres and railway station car parks and more offences taking place in residential streets and private driveways. “It is becoming increasingly common for offenders to break into homes to steal car keys and then the cars,” AC Hill said. “This has occurred in my own neighbourhood and led to my family changing the way we do things. We never leave anything of value in our cars, they are always locked and we no longer leave our keys in obvious places like the kitchen bench or on a hook by the back door.” AC Hill told the story of a woman whose car keys were stolen from her handbag after she left it on a table in a shopping centre for a minute to order coffee. Her car was later stolen. “It wouldn’t take much time for a criminal to locate the car the keys belonged to in a car park. The offenders just had to walk around pressing the central locking function on the keys before identifying the vehicle and stealing it.” Another incident involved a young woman leaving her car at a shopping centre car wash.
She handed over the keys and went shopping only to return to find someone else paid for the car wash, picked up the keys and drove away in her car. Police are particularly concerned about an increase in car-jacking incidents in recent times. “These offences generally relate to the theft of high-end cars and often involve acts of escalated violence, along with a blatant disregard for the safety of others,” AC Hill said. “The cars are frequently used to support additional criminal offences, including robberies and, in some cases, ram raids.” While some vehicle thefts can be attributed to young joyriders, many are more serious and involve significant planning and preparation by offenders. An extreme case involved an offender colliding with the rear of another vehicle and then stealing the car while the victim examined the damage. “Fortunately incidents of this nature are uncommon. However, they do highlight the lengths thieves are prepared to go to,” AC Hill said.
FOLLOW THESE SIMPLE TIPS TO HELP PREVENT YOUR CAR BEING BROKEN INTO OR STOLEN:
• Lock your doors while driving. • Think about the route you’re taking – stick to major roads and well-lit areas. • Be conscious of your surroundings. • Garage your vehicle if possible. • Keep your home secure day and night to prevent burglary.
• T hink about storing your car keys in a secure place at home, not somewhere where they can be easily located by a thief. • Remove items of value from your car and lock it. • Have tamper-proof screws placed on your number plates.
“People must take more responsibility for the security of their property.” “One of the biggest concerns for me is that stolen vehicles are increasingly being driven dangerously and recklessly, putting the lives and safety of innocent people at risk.”
“We also know there are groups of criminals who systematically check vehicles parked in streets and driveways, with the intent of stealing from them.
Over the past five years there has been a 20 per cent increase in reported thefts of and from motor vehicles, with a spike in both categories during the months of August, September and October last year.
“People must take more responsibility for the security of their property.”
Theft from motor vehicles currently rate as the second highest offence category by volume in Victoria, with statistics showing Victorians are more likely to have their cars broken into than any other state.
In January this year, more than 200 detectives and plain clothes members took part in Operation Carsafe in Southern Metro Region.
“Number plate theft is really driving our crime data at the moment, but we are also seeing a disturbing increase in thefts of tools and other work-related equipment from unattended vehicles,” AC Hill said.
AC Hill said the best way to do this was to remove valuables from cars and lock them when leaving, even at home.
The operation focused on the activities of repeat offenders of vehicle-related theft, resulting in 46 arrests over a three-day period. “We know repeat offenders are responsible for driving up thefts,” AC Hill said.
“These offences are occurring in residential streets and on private property.
“We increased our efforts to make our presence known, conducting bail checks, speaking to people of interest and executing warrants.”
“We know there are criminals specifically targeting vehicles belonging to tradespeople. Clearly this would impact significantly on the livelihood of victims and their clients.
Another project is referring repeat offenders to a diversion program run by the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council and Mission Australia.
The Council’s executive director Ray Carroll said the Synergy Repairs program offered young vehicle theft offenders an opportunity to start a career in panel beating through skills training and apprenticeships. “We know that the prospect of full-time employment in the motor industry can have an impact on an offender's outlook and behaviour and can turn their life around,” he said. The program has led to most participants gaining apprenticeships, employment and undertaking further education since it started in mid-2014. AC Hill said the community also had a role to play in preventing vehicle crime. “It’s important that people take more responsibility for the security of their cars and report suspicious behaviour to the police.” Images Car theft 01 Sunshine police examine a stolen vehicle for fingerprints. 02 Police are encouraging people to secure their cars to prevent theft. Editorial: Maria Carnovale Photography: Shane Bell POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
“The team is known for its ability to nab dangerous offenders quickly and quietly.” For the four men involved in a wild brawl late last year, life was continuing as normal, but little did they know they were soon to be targets of Victoria Police’s most elite squad, the Special Operations Group (SOG). “It’s been about three months since the incident took place and they probably think they’ve gotten away with it,” a SOG sergeant said. It is 6am and the SOG team are briefed on the histories of the four men who are considered dangerous and how they plan to make the arrests. “Our mission is to conduct the safe arrest of the targets,” the sergeant tells the group. Dressed in their full black uniform, they look at maps of the area, plan their teams and kit up. They are told to “wait for the code word before moving in” and head out. SOG members have been planning this job for a couple of weeks and are aiming to pick up all four people of interest in Dandenong within a short space of time so they don’t have a chance to tip each other off. The plan is to arrest the first offender without raising suspicion and possibly arrest the second offender in the same premises. The SOG is called upon to arrest and deal with Victoria’s most dangerous offenders and attend the most critical incidents across the state. From siege situations, offenders with firearms and property raids, the team is known for its ability to nab dangerous offenders quickly and quietly. As they move in to make the first arrest, circumstances change and they decide to pull back and reassess. Meanwhile, the SOG sergeant is notified that a suspect they have been looking for has been identified on the other side of town in Geelong. “A crew will head out to Geelong and get ready to make a move," he said. In Dandenong, the team is able to swiftly arrest one of the men they have had their sights on all morning. It is over in minutes without the neighbours even having time to look over. The SOG team calls local police to take the man into custody, before preparing to make the second arrest. The situation is intense and the police are focused, quickly changing their plans to suit the circumstances. It was only hours ago, that the same group was standing around the office chatting about their night, being woken up by their two-year-olds or busy with their active teenagers.
“As well as being physically fit, mental strength is very important in this job.” A two-week selection phase is run for SOG applicants, where their physical and mental strength is put to the test. The selection phase is usually where a majority of the applicants realise they are not ready and decide to take more time to train for the job. Known as the toughest squad in Victoria Police, only a small number of police are selected for the team and of about 35 applicants, it is not uncommon for only four to six to be accepted as SOG members. “We look for people who can work independently and make good decisions under pressure,” the sergeant said. “Applicants are put in situations where they are extremely tired so we can see if they have the ability to make good decisions in difficult circumstances. “We run scenarios that are as close to real-life as possible.” Selected applicants then complete three months of training in special weapons and tactics, explosives and more, before they are ready to take on the role. A special graduation ceremony then takes place where the new SOG members are presented with their black SOG caps. The SOG is at the top of its game, having frequent training sessions with specialist police across Australia, the United States and other international armed forces. “Some of the offenders we confront are facing life in prison, might be wary of police looking for them and are more likely to be aggressive towards police,” the SOG sergeant said. In 2014, two SOG members were seriously injured when they attended a siege in Derrinallum, in Victoria’s west. The officers suffered injuries as a result of being hit by shrapnel from explosives the man detonated around his property. This year will see even more SOG members in place in Victoria and a tactical dog is also on the cards, to be raised and trained for work with the squad. The concept of being ‘ready to go’ at any time may be a little disconcerting for some, but for SOG members, it is what they train for and what they are best at. As they head home after a long day where they arrested a group of serious offenders, they go home and catch up on some sleep before preparing to do it all again tomorrow.
“We get to know each other really well,” one SOG officer said. “There is a lot of time in between jobs where we are waiting for things to fall into place.”
Images Specialist response
With two former plumbers, a carpenter and IT expert among the ranks, the SOG is varied, but they also have a lot in common.
The SOG will benefit from more members this year.
“They have to be very flexible as the circumstances are always changing,” the SOG sergeant said.
Editorial: Maria Carnovale Photography: Clay Burke POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF
DIVISIONAL FIREARMS OFFICERS
Police Life spent the day with a Divisional Firearms Officer (DFO) to find out what it takes to be a responsible gun owner.
“I encourage anyone planning to surrender a firearm to notify the firearm dealer or police station first so they know you are coming, otherwise your intentions may be unclear. It is also important the gun is safely secured while being transported.
Williamstown Police Station’s DFO Leading Senior Constable Anita Harraway slides a pair of white cotton gloves on her hands before carefully scrutinising a hand-gun with a thread that has been added so it can be used with a silencer.
“We want people to bring in firearms, but ask that they use their common sense.”
The gun has been illegally modified and was recently surrendered to Sam*, a licensed firearm dealer in Victoria’s north-western suburbs.
There are rows of oiled and tagged long-arm firearms safely locked on the display shelves, along with other controlled weapons such as ceremonial swords, gun powder flasks and antique guns.
Ldg Sen Const Harraway is standing in Sam’s private gun dealership.
“The impact of a gun like this can be nasty and a person in possession of this gun without the right type of permit will cop a fair whack,” Sam said.
“It’s the best dealership I’ve seen,” Ldg Sen Const Harraway said.
The gun will be taken to the police station where it will be analysed and have its registration history checked before it is destroyed.
“Everything is neat and tidy. The paperwork is always up-to-date and the weapons are properly secured and labelled.”
Ldg Sen Const Harraway said it was possible for people to surrender illegal weapons to a registered gun dealer or the police if they followed the correct channels.
Ldg Sen Const Harraway is conducting a routine audit of the dealership and spends hours with Sam meticulously cross-referencing the make and model of each gun along with its serial number.
“I’m here to protect the public and want unregistered and illegal guns off the street,” she said.
These are checked against the dealer's register and police records compiled from Sam’s mandatory monthly registration reports.
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
"A gun licence is a privilege and if there’s a problem I determine whether the guns need to be seized. "
“The book is the bible and accounts for everything here, even the tags on the firearms,” Sam said. Sam has been a private firearms dealer for 16 years. His business address is not listed in the Yellow Pages and if someone calls him for an appointment he may tell them to take their business elsewhere. “I’ll have a chat with them on the phone. If someone sounds shady or I’m a bit dubious on their background, I’ll advise them to go to police.” Once vetted on the phone, customers are invited to an unmarked address and ushered through a side door into the storage room, which has reinforced brick and steel walls and 20 security sensors.
Ldg Sen Const Harraway ensures the safe handover of a long-arm firearm surrendered to police in Williamstown.
It may not sound like the most viable business model, but for Sam it is legally and morally necessary. “It’s for the benefit of the general public and my own safety. I would not feel comfortable knowing a gun was sold here and someone got hurt.” Ldg Sen Const Harraway works with public and private dealers from the city to Melton, conducting hundreds of audits and random spot checks at the properties of registered gun owners. Under the Firearms Act and state regulation, licensed firearms holders must have their guns unloaded and securely locked with the ammunition stored separately. “When going to a licence holder’s house I question who lives there and whether an associate or criminal can access the guns because they may become a target of theft or burglary,” Ldg Sen Const Harraway said. “We encourage all gun owners to store their firearms in a proper safe that can be locked securely and is bolted to the ground.
Victoria Police’s Licensing and Regulation Division also regulates the weapons industry, including controlled weapons, such as knives.
“A gun licence is a privilege and if there’s a problem I determine whether the guns need to be seized. My main motivation is the safety of the gun owner, their family and the community. “We may need to suspend someone’s licence due to mental health concerns, family violence or certain criminal matters." When Ldg Sen Const Harraway is at the station her office phone rings off the hook with queries from police and the public. She also conducts weekly firearms courses to educate people wanting to get their licence about their legal obligations, safety and security. Her expertise is invaluable and regularly called upon by other police. “We assist police on warrants and interviews, if they are not familiar with the legislation,” Ldg Sen Const Harraway said. “We want to make sure that the charges and evidence are strong enough to get a conviction – the DFO’s knowledge can be invaluable.” *Name has been changed.
Ldg Sen Const Harraway regularly conducts spot checks at licensed firearm dealers in her area.
MORE INFORMATION F or more on firearms licensing and regulations or to contact a DFO visit www.police.vic.gov.au/firearms Image Firearms officer 01 L dg Sen Const Harraway inspects
an illegally modified firearm.
At her office in Williamstown Police Station, Ldg Sen Const Harraway finalises paperwork relating to firearms checks.
Editorial: Jane McCubbin Photography: Craig Sillitoe POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
NEW LAWS PAVE THE WAY TO PROTECT FAMILIES FROM OVERSEAS VISITORS LIKELY TO ENGAGE IN VIOLENCE, INTIMIDATION OR KIDNAPPING ON AUSTRALIAN SHORES.
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
A 33-year-old Templestowe man died unexpectedly, leaving behind his wife and two small children. What followed from this family tragedy was a complex feud that ended with a thwarted abduction.
In March 2013, Doncaster police were called to investigate the death of a man who went to bed one night and never woke up. Given the man's age and no prior medical conditions, police investigated the circumstances and reported their findings to the Coroner’s Court of Victoria. Eight months later the death was determined non-suspicious. Meanwhile, almost 10,000 kilometres away in China, the parents of the deceased dual citizen and grandparents of his two young children were unable to accept their son's death and prepared to make the journey to Australia. The grandparents had been communicating with police for some time sending numerous emails, sometimes weekly, accusing their son’s wife of killing him and police of helping to cover it up. Police responded to their concerns while also maintaining contact with the relevant consular services and government agencies involved.
They also attempted to arrange Chinese passports for the children. Sen Sgt Farrell said police were concerned for the family’s welfare and received intelligence the grandparents were planning to relocate the children to China. The wife sought an intervention order (IVO) preventing the grandparents from going near her or the children. “We were concerned about their welfare and were doing everything we could to support the mother during this incredibly stressful and difficult time,” Sen Sgt Farrell said.
Police also advised the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Border Force of the warrant so they would be notified when the grandparents arrived. The AFP advised police they were due to arrive in Melbourne the next day. Sen Sgt Farrell, the AFP and Border Force served the IVO to the grandparents at the airport. That day the grandparents’ visas were revoked under section 116 of the Migration Act, which allows a visa to be cancelled if the holder poses a health or safety risk to an Australian citizen, and they were deported.
“Every family and every victim is different and in this situation there were also cultural differences.
Sen Sgt Farrell said these provisions had the potential to help law enforcement protect Australian families from similar situations, particularly when children were at risk.
“They (the grandparents) were loath to have the authorities involved in their family business, but we had genuine welfare concerns for the mother and her two children.”
“We want to make this legislation more widely known so it can be used to protect families and children at risk of harm or abduction from someone entering the country,” he said.
Sen Sgt Farrell continued to maintain contact with the man’s wife, with the support of the station's Family Violence Unit, and the grandparents.
“In the situation we were dealing with, the family was under extreme stress and we were able to use this legislation to protect them.
In February last year, the grandparents arrived at Doncaster Police Station demanding answers. “While it was vital to build a strong rapport with the victim, it was equally important to maintain With the aid of a translator, police talked them contact with the grandparents,” he said. through the investigation and findings. “We needed to continue talking to them to find Acting Senior Sergeant Alasdair Farrell said it out their intentions. became clear the grandparents would never "We made sure they had the Coroner's report be able to accept what had happened. and went out of our way to address every “It must have been incredibly difficult for them concern but the accusations persisted, to understand how our police structures work it was relentless.” and the role of the Coroner,” he said. The grandparents eventually went back “They didn't get any closure, so they pointed to China, but a few months later police the finger at the wife.” received information they had booked a return trip to Australia. Not long after the grandparents visited the station, police were told they had been in Convinced the grandparents would attempt contact with the man's widow and were to take the children out of the country, police seen loitering at the children's school. obtained a special warrant to issue another IVO.
“The wife was very, very relieved. On top of losing her husband she was facing the prospect of having her children taken. It was an incredibly stressful time for her but a good result in the end.”
Image New laws 01 Acting senior sergeants Alasdair Gall and Alasdair Farrell worked with partner agencies to protect a Victorian family. Editorial: Jane McCubbin Photography: Craig Sillitoe POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
OUT & ABOUT
Sgt Letchford conducts a road safety operation on Macedon Street, Sunbury.
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
Constable Matthew Bongiovanni reports back to the station while on the road.
Senior Constable Kirby Healy and Const Bongiovanni survey burnt out grassland after the Christmas Day bushfires.
Sunbury police are on a mission to tackle ice in the community. In the past year they have ramped up the heat on illicit drug dealers with police raids leading to dozens of arrests and drug seizures in excess of hundreds-of-thousands of dollars. While the wins are often publicly celebrated in the media, less is known about the police work behind the scenes to disrupt the local drug trade. Sergeant Luke Baker has been involved in several operations in the Sunbury area that have targeted drug and ice traffickers leading to the execution of more than 100 warrants in the past 18 months. “It is sending a clear message that police will not tolerate offences associated with drug trafficking and that we are committed to preventing this type of criminal activity,” he said.
None of this could be achieved without veteran police on hand to oversee operations, using their collective experience in road policing, detective work, covert operations, cold case investigations and long-term uniform policing to achieve success. In Sunbury, the management team has been committed to training police to build and develop their skills. This includes guiding police on engaging with those from nearby divisional response and crime investigation units, and specialist areas like the Special Operations Group and Dog Squad. Sergeant John Letchford said knowing the job was key to the success of the station. “We want our most junior police to be able to confidently identify drugs, compile affidavits and conduct search warrants,” he said.
“We are not just stopping drug traffickers but all associated crimes such as thefts from vehicles, burglaries, assaults, family violence and possession of illegal firearms.
“It’s not just about pulling over a car and finding drugs, it’s about going further as an investigator. We push our police to be good investigators from the outset.
“Often suspects of these crimes are also dealing in illicit drugs or ice because they need the cash, so a lot of our operations are in place to address these issues.”
“If there are drugs, there’s cash, if there’s cash, there may be stolen property.
The manufacture and distribution of ice and its inevitable social problems are not unique to Sunbury, but the local police station’s blend of experienced and new officers working together to achieve positive outcomes through intelligence-led policing and on-the-job training are getting obvious results.
“If one of our officers finds stolen property, we want to know where the offenders live. That’s where the warrants come from.”
“Our recent success through operations like Over Exerts has depended on our ability to engage with them. The large majority of intelligence for our targeted drug operations comes from the community. “We try to instil the importance of this through rostered foot patrols where police are on the street talking to business owners and locals.” Sen Sgt Douglas said his approach to tackling ice included enforcement, community engagement and the ability to think outside the box. “We can’t arrest our way out of this, so we are working in partnership with the community and our partners like the Sunbury Community Health Centre to create drug prevention strategies and programs,” he said. “There are a lot of passionate people with great ideas. One project we’re supporting is a phone app for people in crisis to link them and aggrieved family members to support services. “It's a matter of building a rapport, gaining confidence and maintaining integrity in the relationships we are trying to form because the community can never lose faith in the uniform and we need them to help us do our job.”
These skills can be applied to all facets of policing and are regularly used at Sunbury to manage other areas of policing, such as road safety and bushfire arson.
Operation Over Exerts started in September 2014 to break drug trafficking rings in Sunbury and surrounding areas.
Senior Sergeant Timothy Douglas runs the 24-hour metropolitan station and has eight sergeants and 34 constables and senior constables under his charge.
The ongoing operation involves police collecting intelligence, preparing briefs of evidence and engaging with multiple stakeholders to execute warrants.
They are responsible for a police response zone spanning roughly 132 square kilometres including South Gisborne, Diggers Rest, Wildwood, Clarkefield and the township of Bulla.
Sen Const Healy inspects parked cars at a Sunbury shopping centre. Police regularly conduct foot patrols to tackle volume crime, including vehicle theft.
“We have a diverse community in metro and rural areas,” Sen Sgt Douglas said.
Const Bongiovanni speaks to local business owner Donna Rudge.
Image Historic building 01 Local police at Rupertswood Mansion, famously known as the birthplace of the Ashes, a proud part of Sunbury's history. Editorial: Jane McCubbin Photography: Andrew Henshaw
Sgt Baker helps Const Bongiovanni to submit seized items from a police raid.
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
Sunshine predator strikes twice Victoria Police's Cold Case Sexual Crime Squad detectives are calling for information about an incident where a teenager was sexually assaulted 30 years ago. It was Saturday, 22 March, 1986, at about 4pm when a 15-year-old girl went to a paddock near a caravan park on Ballarat Road in Sunshine to feed her horse. She saw a man in another paddock feeding a horse and, as he walked towards hers, he grabbed her from behind, forced her to the ground and sexually assaulted her. The distraught teenager managed to run away back home to her mother. She reported the crime to police. Four months later, on 14 July, 1986, the girl went to visit a friend and decided to drop in on her horse. It was late afternoon. She was attacked again, but this time the man had a knife. He grabbed her from behind, pushed her over, cut her clothing and sexually assaulted her.
The victim believes the man looked European. He was wearing a light blue jumper, blue jeans, black socks, light brown riding boots and a thick gold identity bracelet on his left wrist. Exhibits were obtained at both crime scenes and were later examined for forensic evidence. DNA was not used back then, so the evidence was stored for further analysis as developments occurred.
“It’s knocking on doors, finding archived records, reading old documents.”
Det Sen Sgt Bennett said she recently got a call informing her that DNA had been found on the exhibits, so she re-opened the case.
“The case was never filed away forever. Just because it is unsolved, it does not mean it is forgotten,” she said.
“We are actively investigating the case and with some public assistance have managed to generate a new suspect list, so we have plenty of leads to follow up on,” she said.
“With cases such as these we are often amazed when we go back to the original investigators and how often they still have vivid memories of the crime and the victims.”
Speaking at a recent press conference about the case, the victim bravely spoke of the attacks that occurred 30 years ago.
Detectives and the victim are appealing to the public to come forward with any information.
“It (time) doesn’t stop the pain everyday in your heart. It just doesn’t stop,” she said.
Like all Victoria Police cold cases, Det Sen Sgt Bennett said police would not give up on finding the offender.
“Let me live the rest of my life knowing that he’s doing time just like I’ve done my time for 30 years,” the victim said.
“The face fades but the smell, the smell of his cologne, the scar on his chin...
The Cold Case Sexual Crime Squad’s Detective Senior Sergeant Deb Bennett said the woman was certain it was the same man.
“I kept saying no, no, no, no. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to get away, otherwise I think I may have had a knife put through me.”
“The description of the man was exactly the same, it was the same person, and we are still looking for him,” she said.
Det Sen Sgt Bennett said the sexual assaults continued to impact the victim’s life.
The man is described as being 182 centimetres, of solid build, aged about 25 at the time of the attacks with short black hair, an olive complexion and a distinctive scar on the left side of his chin. He was clean shaven and possibly wore hair gel.
“You’ve got to remember, when these crimes were committed there was no CCTV, no mobile phones, no computers. We have to use good old-fashioned detective work.
“It has affected her personal relationships a great deal. Also injuries she received during the attacks have really affected her career prospects.” She said investigating a crime that was 30 years old required back-to-basics police work.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. Image Sex crime 01 A facefit of the man police would like to speak to. 02 The scene where the attacks occurred. Editorial: Janae Houghton
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
“I kept saying no, no, no, no. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to get away, otherwise I think I may have had a knife put through me.”
02 POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
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“The main outcome is not necessarily to get a confession, the real aim of a successful interview is to get a truthful and detailed account of what actually happened.”
While most of us probably assume crimes are cracked using CCTV, fingerprints and DNA evidence, more than 90 per cent of investigations are actually solved through evidence obtained in police interviews with victims, witnesses and suspects. The Centre for Investigator Training’s Investigative Interviewing Unit (IIU) provides police recruits and detectives training in various levels of interviewing. Officer in charge Detective Inspector Chris Murray said Victoria Police was committed to raising the profile and standards of interviewing across the organisation. “The IIU consists of highly experienced detectives from Homicide, the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Teams, as well as detectives from the divisions, squads and taskforces, who are able to impart their knowledge and experience to the next generation of detectives.” IIU’s Detective Senior Sergeant Steven Azarnikow said police interviews accounted for the who, what, when, where, how and why of a crime, that things like DNA cannot necessarily supply. “It has been recognised that police need to develop and maintain the valuable resource of being a skilled interviewer. Interviewing victims, witnesses and suspects is a fundamental aspect of the investigative process and central to the success of an investigation,” he said.
“The main outcome is not necessarily to get a confession, the real aim of a successful interview is to get a truthful and detailed account of what actually happened.” Victoria Police uses the PEACE model of interviewing, which focuses on building a rapport, communications skills, question techniques and memory retrieval. The five elements of PEACE are preparation and planning, engage and explain, account, closure and evaluation. “While the PEACE model brings a level of structure to the investigative interview, its core principals of building rapport and winning the trust of the person you are interviewing has been around forever, but the fact is it works,” Det Sen Sgt Azarnikow said. Before a detective even sits down with an offender, a witness or a victim, they will do research and put a plan together about what they hope to get out of the interview. Det Sen Sgt Azarnikow has completed hundreds of interviews during his career as a detective, working mostly in local crime investigation units. He said investigators needed to be open minded. “You have to be fair and not assume anything at all. Investigators have to try not to judge, they will then be in a better position to get a truthful account of what happened, which then makes it easier to investigate the crime. “Most of the time, in my experience, if a detective builds a good rapport and trust, the person will start talking and the chances of getting the truth are maximised.
“If they don’t like you, they will tell you where to go pretty quickly and that is not a good outcome.” Det Sen Sgt Azarnikow said investigative interviewing was an art, not a science. “These type of techniques are not going to work on everyone and not every police officer is going to make a great interviewer,” he said. “This model isn’t foolproof of course, some people will still not tell the truth. But if the investigator has a gut feeling that they are lying or being deceptive, it is then up to them to investigate further. “It’s not just offenders who may lie, witnesses and victims may also tell untruths or be mistaken.” One example of the PEACE model being put into practice successfully in recent times, is the police interview with rapist and murder Adrian Bayley. The interviewer built up a rapport with Bayley and got him talking, locking him into his story of denying he had anything to do with the rape and murder of Jill Meagher, before using the techniques contained in the PEACE model to present him with a number of pieces of evidence to disprove this. He eventually got a confession. New detectives have to complete Detective Training School, which includes eight days of investigative interviewing training. During this course, the students learn the theory behind the PEACE model and run through a number of mock scenarios to practice what they have learnt and then complete a number of on-thejob tasks.
Image Detective training 01 Trainee detectives practice the craft of investigative interviewing in a mock scenario. Editorial: Janae Houghton Photography: Shane Bell
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
Police + Paramedics PARTNER UP
In a Victorian first, police and paramedics partnered to improve emergency service delivery on Friday and Saturday evenings in Melbourne’s CBD.
The seven-week trial, implemented by North West Metro police, began on 1 January and involved two police from the Melbourne Yarra (MY) City Taskforce and one Ambulance Victoria paramedic going to jobs in an ambulance.
It’s 4am on a warm Saturday night and a drunk man is yelling obscenities at passers-by on busy Swanston Street.
Crime Command’s Commander Cindy Millen said the trial was likely to continue.
The man stumbles, hitting his head on a park bench and blood starts gushing. An ambulance quickly arrives, with its lights flashing and sirens echoing. A paramedic steps out of the vehicle along with two police officers. The paramedic starts first aid, ensuring he is okay, and then the police take over. The man is later arrested for being drunk and displaying offensive behaviour. It’s this combined effort of emergency services working together that has resulted in a swift and coordinated response.
“Having police and paramedics working together is a great win for the community. Not only does the initiative improve response times, it also aims to prevent further harm,” she said.
Peak times were between 10pm and 4am on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Sgt Griffiths said these statistics demonstrated service providers were attending a number of the same jobs. “Having an ambo working alongside police provides an improved community response to minor incidents including first aid treatment, giving advice to the victim or offender and reduces the need for another police crew to be dispatched,” he said.
Operations Response Unit’s (ORU) Sergeant Matthew Griffiths came up with the idea after witnessing excessively violent incidents that often needed urgent medical intervention as well as police response. In the Melbourne CBD, between March 2014 and March 2015, there were 420 calls for ambulances requiring police assistance and 3213 reported assaults, brawls and serious collisions. Image Teaming up 01 The ORU’s Senior Constable Steve Fernando on the beat with a paramedic. Editorial: Mandi Santic
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
Police working with a psychologist in Footscray have learnt how to better manage high-risk family violence cases and improve outcomes for families.
“The complex causes and consequences of family violence means that, in addition to being a crime that must be policed, family violence is a public health issue, requiring a coordinated health and social service response.
The Enhanced Family Violence Unit paired a mental health professional with a dedicated police unit during a six-month trial at Footscray Police Station.
“By embedding a psychologist with police we were able to introduce police risk assessment and management practices, improve confidence and reduce the rates of repeat family violence incidents over time.”
Working together, police would manage family violence incidents with support from forensic psychologist Dr Melisa Wood. The trial was a success and will be reinstated in the coming months. North West Metro's Superintendent Stuart Bateson said police responses to family violence incidents improved significantly since the trial. “Family violence often co-exists with a range of other social problems, such as substance misuse and mental disorder,” he said.
“Police are constantly confronted with scenarios where serious physical violence and even death are a real possibility,” he said. “The input of a specialist psychologist in these situations is invaluable in helping to facilitate a rapid and intensive police response. “It also means police can develop tailored risk management strategies that link victims to appropriate support services and perpetrators to relevant rehabilitation programs.”
During the trial, police increased the use of risk management strategies by a third and improved their expertise in the field through regular interactions with Dr Wood where family violence cases were discussed.
The trial was developed after a Macedon Ranges and North West Melbourne Medicare Local community needs assessment in 2014 identified improved responses to family violence was a health priority.
Supt Bateson said the results supported the concept of police working with specialist agencies to tackle family violence in the community.
The second trial will involve forensic psychologists embedded with police in several western suburb family violence teams. Image New approach 01 Inspector Martin Allison, Dr Wood and Supt Bateson discuss family violence strategies. Editorial and photography: Jane McCubbin POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
CAREER IN FOCUS
TACTICAL FLIGHT OFFICER LEADING SENIOR CONSTABLE MELINDA LENDERS Leading Senior Constable Melinda Lenders is one of just a few women to have worked as a tactical flight officer in Victoria Police's Air Wing.
“The local search and rescue unit asked if I wanted to go up in the helicopter to help. The bug set in from there.”
“Every job we go to has urgency to it, most are life critical, whether it’s a search and rescue, chasing an offender, or looking for a missing person.
She signed up to volunteer with the Southern Peninsula Rescue Squad and then secured an international deployment with the Australian Federal Police, heading off to the Solomon Islands for two years.
“Being up in the air and flying is always amazing.”
“I made sure to keep my skills up while I was there and got the job of air liaison officer.
“It is a very physically demanding job, which isn’t for everyone.
“I was told to go out and get life experience before joining, so I did a hairdressing apprenticeship and hated it. Every time I saw the divvy van drive past I just knew I wanted to be doing that.”
“Everyone there, especially in the remote areas, relied on the helicopters. Most flights were for resupply, personnel changes, extradition of prisoners and disaster relief flights.
“Things like winching people to safety, lifting heavy stretchers, swimming out in the bay, all of this can be very tiring, but I love it.”
She has had a varied career as a police officer, but knew early on she wanted to end up working in the Victoria Police choppers.
“We also conducted many search and rescue jobs with the Medivac crews.”
Ldg Sen Const Lenders had aspirations to join policing as a child. “I always wanted to be a police officer. My dad used to set up a replica of the Police Academy obstacle courses in our backyard for me to train in, even when I was young,” she said.
Ldg Sen Const Lenders worked in the south eastern suburbs initially and also did summer policing stints at Sorrento and Rye. “I was working at Sorrento in about 2002, when I had to oversee the search for a missing boat and its crew,” she said. 28
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
During her time at the Air Wing, Ldg Sen Const Lenders has either been the only woman, or one of two or three.
Ldg Sen Const Lenders returned to Victoria Police, in the Casey Family Violence Unit, for a few months before she got her job at the Air Wing in 2009. “What’s not to love?” she said. Editorial: Janae Houghton Photography: Shane Bell
BADGE AND BEYOND
A NEW TAKE ON POLICING When Neville Seamer graduated as a police officer, he was a 21-year-old keen to make a difference in the community. After 33 years of operational policing he returned to the Victoria Police Academy grounds, this time with his wife and two of his daughters there to proudly witness his graduation as a Police Custody Officer (PCO). PCO Seamer was one of three former police in the first squad of 15 PCO graduates in January. He made the move after working as a sergeant, mainly in the Pakenham area, to Dandenong Police Station where he now assists in the supervision and transportation of people in police custody. As a police officer who graduated in 1982, he has worked at South Melbourne, Oakleigh, Lilydale and Melbourne East police stations. It was during his time at Melbourne East that he ran a successful plain clothes operation, called Operation Leader.
The operation targeted drug dealers in the city and was recognised for arresting 4000 offenders over four years. After suffering a heart attack two years ago, PCO Seamer made the transition out of policing, but was pleased with the opportunity to stay in the organisation. “Before I became a PCO, as a sergeant, I used to train other police to look after the prisoners,” he said. “Now, with PCOs taking that job, it means I can help police get back on the street and do more work in the community. “This is what I know, what I have done most of my life and I wanted to stay in a job I enjoy. “The mates I have gained have been the best part of my career and I’m looking forward to another 10 years or so of this before retirement.”
SERVICE HISTORY 1982 Graduated from the Victoria
Police Academy 1982–1991 Worked at Russell Street
Police Complex, South Melbourne and Oakleigh police stations 1992–2001 Worked at Lilydale Police Station 2002 Worked at Melbourne East and received a commendation for involvement in Operation Leader 2008 Received commendation for disarming an offender who had a gun while working at Pakenham Police Station 2016 Graduated as a Police Custody Officer
Visit policecareer.vic.gov.au to find out more about becoming a PCO.
Editorial: Maria Carnovale Photography: Andrew Henshaw POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
HANDING OVER THE REIGNS The police in the Victoria Police Mounted Branch hung their saddles on the walls of the historic Southbank stables for the last time this month.
There are many quirks about the old stables on the corner of Dodds and Grant streets in Southbank, including the lone cat that wanders around the building, perches on the stairs and generally lazes around the premises, while occasionally heading off to hunt mice.
It is a belief among many of the police in the Mounted Branch that the historic stables they have been housed in for more than 100 years are haunted.
Juliette the cat, the old sewing machine and the Mounted Branch horses recently moved out of the old stables and into their new home – a purpose-built facility in Attwood that also houses the Dog Squad.
Back in the 90s, sleepy night shifters were jolted alert by the sound of a sewing machine in the saddler’s officer on the far side of the building. The sewing machine was used by a saddler to hand-make and repair equipment for the branch, but the saddler never worked at night.
POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
When the stables complex in Southbank was built in 1912, there were few cars on the roads and no police cars. It was the Mounted Branch that mainly serviced the city of Melbourne with hundreds of horses, along with police on foot patrol. Mounted troopers were also based across the state, servicing regional Victoria.
As the number of cars on the roads increased over the years, the use of police horses reduced, but their role has remained similar. Primarily, the Mounted Branch supports operational areas on jobs such as crowd control at demonstrations, sporting events and large public gatherings, as well as some ceremonial duties. Sergeant Amanda Crowley is one of many police who have spent a large part of their careers with the Mounted Branch. Twenty five of her 33 years in policing have been in the Mounted Branch and, like many others, she is sad to leave the Southbank stables. “In the 50s and 60s these stables would have been full of horses,” she said. “There is so much history here. It has been used by the Mounted Branch continuously since it was built.
“We’re still doing duties today that they were doing back in 1912.” The mounted troopers look after and train the horses, clean the stables and are deployed for operational tasks as they have since being introduced in 1938. The Mounted Branch stables were part of a larger complex, called the Police Depot, where training of police took place before the Victoria Police Academy in Glen Waverley was built. The site also featured a Police Hospital. During World War I the entire complex and stables were used as an Australian military hospital to treat troops returning from Gallipoli. After World War I, around 1919, the stables and Police Hospital were used for short periods to help with outbreaks of influenza and measles in Victoria.
As police training moved over to the Glen Waverley site, sections of the Depot were closed and taken over by the University of Melbourne in 1973.
While the city won’t be within arm’s reach for the squad, the horses can enjoy vast farmland and a bigger riding arena for training at the Attwood facility.
The Police Hospital remained at the site until 1981.
The Mounted Branch Southbank Complex will be refurbished for use by the University of Melbourne’s College of the Arts.
Among the ghosts, the ill and police, the stables have also had historic horses grace their halls. Sgt Crowley remembers riding Black Knight, a former Melbourne Cup winner, on the Flemington Racetrack while escorting the Governor General. Black Knight became a police horse in 1986, two years after his Cup win, and remained with Victoria Police for about 10 years before retirement. Other former and well regarded racehorses were Shadow King who ran in six Melbourne Cup races, coming second twice, and holds the record for the most number of starts in the prestigious race, and Samson, another well-known racehorse.
Images Historic stables 01 The stables were built in 1912 and used for policing since then. 02 The historic Southbank building. 03 Leading Senior Constable Brendan Binney with horse Nobby, who retired recently and now lives on a farm. Editorial: Maria Carnovale POLICE LIFE | AUTUMN 2016
Here are just a few of the 500 entries received in the Police Chief's colouring competition. Read the full story on page 3.