THE VICTORIA POLICE MAGAZINE
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Virtual training A STATE-OF-THE-ART TRAINING FACILITY IS GIVING POLICE THE SKILLS TO FACE WHATEVER THEY MAY COME UP AGAINST. PLUS WOMEN OF THE WATER POLICE > A DAY WITH PSOs > SOLVING CRIME WITH SOCIAL MEDIA > OUT AND ABOUT IN KYNETON AND MORE
Virtual training A state-of-the-art training simulator will be used to train police to deal with various incidents.
Women in policing A number of inspirational women have joined the specialist Water Police.
COVER: Police are using virtual training to enhance their skills. Photography: David Johns 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
Skimming stopped The Fraud and Extortion Squad cracked a major case of card skimming and fraud.
Inclusive workplace Police Life talks to some of Victoria Policeâ€™s employees with a disability.
Editor Maria Carnovale Journalists Janae Houghton Jane McCubbin Ashlee Williams Graphic Design Fluid â€“ 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
Stopping crime online Police are using social media to engage with communities while also keeping a close eye on crime.
A MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF COMMISSIONER As National Police Remembrance Day approaches on Thursday, 29 September, I encourage everyone to stop to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. It is also an opportunity for us to show our support for the family, friends and colleagues left behind.
The police who have died in the line of duty will not be forgotten and I hope that many of you will join us to honour them at services across the country on Remembrance Day.
I am constantly moved by the heroism shown by our police and their willingness to step up for the benefit of our communities each and every day.
Graham Ashton AM Chief Commissioner
Sadly, over the 163-year history of Victoria Police, 159 Victorian officers have died in the line of duty, and we recognise their sacrifice and service. The Victoria Police family is a strong one. It is one that the community can turn to in a stressful situation or to calm the chaos, but it is also important to remember that our police are human and they need support also.
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Follow CCP Ashton on Twitter at @GrahamAshtonCCP Join Victoria Police in honouring fallen police at 10am on Thursday, 29 September at the Victoria Police Memorial, St Kilda Road, Kings Domain, Melbourne.
MAKING NEWS For the latest police news visit vicpolicenews.com.au
REMEMBERING SILK AND MILLER Slain Victoria Police officers Sergeant Gary Silk and Senior Constable Rodney Miller were posthumously awarded the National Police Service Medal (NPSM) recently. The presentation happened in the lead up to National Police Remembrance Day, held on Thursday, 29 September each year. It is a day for police and the public to honour the dedicated men and women who have died serving their community. The families of Sgt Silk and Sen Const Miller attended the annual memorial service, on 16 August at St Kilda Police Station for what was the 18th anniversary of the tragic deaths. Sgt Silk and Sen Const Miller were staking out a restaurant in Moorabbin at about midnight when a car took off. They followed it down Cochranes Road, pulled it over and as they approached the vehicle, were gunned down at close range.
The murders sent shockwaves across the state, but to the Victoria Police family, it was devastating. After a massive manhunt, Bandali Debs, from Narre Warren, and Jason Roberts, from Cranbourne, were found guilty of the murders and sentenced to life imprisonment. At the recent memorial service, Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton presented a NPSM to Sen Const Miller’s son, James, and Sgt Silk’s brother, Ian. Sen Const Miller’s wife, Carmel Arthur, held back tears as she described what receiving the medals meant to her family. “It’s such a significant medal and enormously moving for our whole family,” she said. “James was just seven weeks old when this happened, so it means a lot that it was presented to him.” Ms Arthur said she appreciated the yearly memorial.
“I love the ceremony, it shows that the work Rod and Gary did is never forgotten. It also helps signify the very special bond my family has with Victoria Police.” Wangaratta Police Station’s Senior Constable Scott Miller is Sen Const Miller’s nephew. He has been a police officer for 10 years. “Days like today remind me of the importance of my police mates,” he said. “Not everyone who attends these services knew Gary and Rod, but they are all here to support our family and it is fantastic.” Sgt Silk’s brother, Ian, said the NPSM would have pride of place at his mother’s house. “Receiving the medal shows us that the police family continues to recognise our slain officers, even 18 years after their death. It means a great deal to the families.”
Image Proud moment 01 Ms Arthur, CCP Ashton, James Miller, Ian Silk and his mother, Val, and bother, Peter, attended the service. Editorial: Janae Houghton Photography: Andrew Henshaw POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
SMALL TALK VOXPOP
DID YOU KNOW?
Do you think having Protective Services Officers (PSOs) at train stations has made a difference? SALLY HAILEY Daisy Hill
Victoria Police used to issue drivers licences and vehicle registrations around the 1930s. An early licence included a Road Safety Pledge, stating a number of promises a driver must keep. Each licence was signed by the Chief Commissioner at the time.
“It has made me feel safer having them here at night when I’m waiting for the train.”
FACES OF VIC POL SLIMEET MALHOTRA Tarneit
“From day one, they’ve been a great help at the station. Very friendly and welcoming.” HAYLEY ALEXANDER Glen Waverley
“They make a difference on my train line, especially at night, and they also make me feel safer about walking to my car.”
Read about what a day in the life of a PSO involves on page 12.
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
Former Senior Constable Ron Hunt achieved two important milestones in his long life – the first was to serve the community as a Victoria Police member and the second was to become a world-class athlete. The first leg of his dual lifetime goals was realised in 1949 when he joined Victoria Police and served as a senior constable with the Highway Patrol Unit. He subsequently went on to train recruits in operational safety and tactics for many years, before retiring in 1987.
But it was in 1960 at the Rome Olympics that Mr Hunt realised the second of his life’s ambitions when he represented Australia in Greco-Roman and Freestyle Wrestling, finishing 15th overall. As a former Olympian, Mr Hunt was also granted the honour of running with the Olympic torch ahead of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. These days Mr Hunt can be seen at his Kooweerup home proudly wearing his 1960 Olympic dressing gown, which is still in mint condition. 02
Images Wrestling star 01 M r Hunt in his Olympic gown.
Photo courtesy of Star News Group. 02 At the height of his wrestling career.
See more Faces of VicPol at facebook.com/victoriapolice
POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
BEHIND THE BADGE
PETER ANDERSON Rank: Sergeant Age: 54 Graduated: 1981 Station: Buninyong Police Station Why did you decide to become a police officer? I followed my older brother Robert, a sergeant at Ballarat, into the job and joined as a Police Cadet in 1979. As a teenager living in rural Victoria, some of my best memories are going to Ballarat and spending time at the Highway Patrol office with Robert and his colleagues. It was very exciting stuff for a farm kid. My brother and I have had very different careers, but have now found ourselves working in the same area as sergeants performing general duties. I valued his advice and guidance back then and still do today. Tell us about working at Buninyong Police Station. I have been officer in charge at Buninyong for 16 years. I have a great team of people around me working in absolutely first-class facilities. While the town itself is reasonably quiet, we are never short of work, often supporting units elsewhere in the Ballarat area. The members here all have young families and I regard it as a high priority to support them as much as possible in balancing their needs as parents and partners with the demands of modern policing.
In return they support me by providing a high standard of service to our community. My wife Pam and I have raised our children at the nearby police residence, they were all educated locally and grew up as locals. Our grandchildren are regular visitors now, so things are never quiet for too long. What is the most challenging aspect of your role? The challenge is to never forget the importance of leadership and support to assist our police to make the right choices in an increasingly complicated policing environment. The responsibility is non-negotiable and you have to bring your best game to each and every policing shift. What has been a memorable moment in your career? In 1998, 20 hours into the abduction of a 16-year-old girl, I located the offender and victim about 200 metres in an old mine beneath Black Hill Lookout in Ballarat. After securing the offender, I turned to the girl and told her everything would be OK. She couldn’t really see me behind the torch beam and she asked “who are you?” I told her it was the police and she dissolved in tears. She told me she thought it was someone else coming to hurt her. As she was assisted from the tunnel by a policewoman, I recall her being asked if she would like something to eat. She answered, “can I have McDonald’s? I didn’t think I’d get to eat it again”. I’ve never forgotten that, and no matter what else I do in Victoria Police, I know we all did something really good that day.
Editorial: Janae Houghton Photography: Craig Sillitoe POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
IN BRIEF PROACTIVE POLICING STORIES
WOMEN OF VICTORIA POLICE EXHIBITION NOW ON Behind the Badge: Women of Victoria Police is the latest exhibition to open at the Victoria Police Museum and highlights the contribution police women are making to the organisation. The exhibition by photographer Morgana McGee features the photographic portraits and personal stories of 10 serving female members and highlights the passion and commitment women bring to policing every day. It also demonstrates the diversity of roles women can undertake at Victoria Police. The exhibition is showing at the Victoria Police Museum, Mezzanine Level, World Trade Centre, 637 Flinders Street, Melbourne, open Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm.
CHIEF COMMISSIONER HOSTS YOUTH SUMMIT
WOMEN AND POLICING NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED
Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton hosted a landmark Youth Summit at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Victoria Police received 40 nominations for the 18th Australasian Council of Women and Policing (ACWAP) Awards for Excellence in Policing.
More than 200 representatives from across government and the community came together to share their ideas on how best to address the issue of serious repeat offending and victimisation involving young people.
The awards are a chance to publicly acknowledge staff who are contributing to improving policing and law enforcement and ensuring policing services are enhanced for women in the community.
“We know that the majority of our young people are doing well and that overall youth crime is decreasing,” CCP Ashton said. “But there is a cohort of young people whose lives are being irretrievably set off course by early involvement in serious and violent crime. “We want to stop this trend. Like family violence, this is something that requires a holistic response. “It’s only by trying to understand what is driving these trends, that we can start to think about how to intervene. Now is the time for action.”
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Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said it was a privilege to host this year’s event in Victoria. “This year’s nominations are once again a testament to the vast achievements of women across Australasian policing,” he said. “I congratulate all nominees on being recognised for their work.” The ACWAP seminar runs from 11 to 13 September. The winners will be announced at the awards night on September 12 at the National Gallery.
WE’RE THE DWYERS
POLICE REMEMBRANCE DAY
Rowville Police Station’s Sergeant Kevin Dwyer is retiring after 38 years of dedicated service but, not to worry, the Dwyer name will live on in Victoria Police because three of his sons, not to mention his daughter-in-law, have followed in his footsteps.
Police will take part in a march and service to honour police who have died in the line of duty on National Police Remembrance Day.
In the lead up to his retirement, all three sons Detective Sergeant Scott Dwyer, Detective Senior Constable Trent Dwyer and Detective Senior Constable Jarrod Dwyer, together with Detective Senior Constable Caitlin Ryan, accompanied Sgt Dwyer on one of his last patrols. Sgt Dwyer is looking forward to getting familiar with four things in retirement… “My passport, pushbike, golf clubs and my six grandchildren.”
At 10am on Thursday, 29 September, the march contingent will arrive at the Victoria Police Memorial, St Kilda Road, Kings Domain, Melbourne for a memorial service. In its 163-year history, 159 Victorian police have died while serving their communities. Victorians are invited to recognise those police at the Melbourne service or one of many to be held across the state. Visit police.vic.gov.au to find out more.
ODD SPOT CORNER Cop on the hop
S-bee-ding driver stung
Sunshine Police Station’s Constable Thomas Stewart hopped to the rescue of an unlikely victim in Derrimut.
Police in Victoria’s east were faced with an un-bee-lievable situation when they pulled over a speeding car.
A black and white bunny was being chased by a felon of the feline kind when Const Stewart stepped in and scooped him up.
The police were on the side of the road at night, in the rain, when a swarm of bees surrounded them as they spoke to the driver.
After a quick visit to the local vet, the rabbit was given the all-clear.
The police quickly made a beeline to another street, but not without bee-ing caught up in a sting. Police stated that they would bee more vigilant in future. “The bee-haviour of the bees will be monitored and intelligence gathered as to their numbers and to identify any ongoing aggressive bee-haviour.”
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A state-of-the-art virtual simulator for police training is set to take police capabilities to a new level. The Craigieburn Operational Safety and Tactics Training (OSTT) centre has all the facilities needed to keep police training up to scratch – a firing range, padded rooms for physical training, an indoor track and lecture theatres. But it is the small, lesser known section that will make an impact on the future of police training. A 300-degree police training simulator has been installed, featuring five large screens to surround trainees and immerse them in various situations they are likely to encounter on the job, but may be difficult to replicate in traditional training.
POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
Police and Protective Services Officers taking their regular training courses can use the simulator to act out scenarios and hone their skills in a safe environment.
It is a situation that police are confronted with daily. However, while the threat is not real, it allows police and their instructors to learn the best strategies to deal with it.
OSTT’s Leading Senior Constable Gary Pemberton, a police training instructor, demonstrated a typical simulated scene police might face in training.
Sitting at a computer just outside the simulator is OSTT’s Leading Senior Constable Kon Kypreos.
A local street opens up around him and a man stands about three metres away with his hands in his pockets. “What?” yells the man aggressively. “Take your hands out of your pockets” Ldg Sen Const Pemberton tells him as he stands with a hand on his hip, ready to retrieve his weapon. In this scenario, the man looks like he has a weapon in his pocket, but, as he pulls one of his hands out, he reveals a mobile phone. “What are you going to do?” the man screams at the officer with one hand still in his pocket. He taunts “come get me”.
He is directing the scenario and, based on the response of the person in training, can change elements to make the man even more aggressive or calm him down. Ldg Sen Const Kypreos can also make the characters produce weapons to elicit responses from the police trainees and introduce more people into the area to distract and encourage them to be aware of their surroundings. “These situations make police think about how to proceed and the choices they would have in their day-to-day duties,” Ldg Sen Const Pemberton said.
“In this situation, we would expect that a member faced with this scenario would be trying to communicate with the man and get him to calm down and remove his hands from his pockets.
As police are in the midst of their training in the simulator, an instructor watches while a safety officer is close behind. After taking part in their scenario, the trainees can watch a recording of themselves in the simulation.
“But if the scenario escalates, the member can be faced with the decision to use their capsicum spray, a conducted energy device [taser] or, in the most critical situations, their semi-automatic pistol.”
“When the members come out of the simulator, you can see that they’re breathing heavily and their adrenalin is running,” Ldg Sen Const Pemberton said.
As part of the simulator, police can use these devices as they would in reality. “The pistols used in the simulator have been made especially for Victoria Police, they are a replica of what we use,” Ldg Sen Const Kypreos said. “The capsicum spray is electric and shows almost an exact imitation of the spray and even the prongs of the taser show up on screen.”
“It really immerses them in the scene.” Craigieburn OSTT’s Superintendent Peter Seiz said the simulator was a great investment that would see many benefits for Victoria Police. “We don’t want to take away life training but this is a new tool for police to learn to be aware of their surroundings and develop their skills,” he said. “They can be put in stressful situations and remain calm and focused in different circumstances.”
One scenario is based on the Columbine High School massacre, where two students killed 13 and injured more in the shooting, which also involved explosives. That incident has since changed police training and tactics in the United States. “The simulator gives us the ability to create our own scenarios using Victorian places and methods to teach our members what actions would work best to deal with a situation,” Supt Seiz said. “Our instructors are able to tailor the scenarios to suit the training police need and get the best out of our people. “We’re bringing together old and new training practices to give our police the best ability to keep the community safe in any incident they might encounter.” Image Advancing training 01 L dg Sen Const Pemberton inside the impressive virtual training simulator. Editorial: Maria Carnovale Photography: David Johns POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
Working for Victoria Police’s Water Police can be challenging, physically demanding and unpredictable. The three women in the squad wouldn’t have it any other way. With waves up to two metres high in Port Phillip Bay, the Water Police’s rigid hull inflatable boat approaches the passenger ferry that travels between Sorrento and Queenscliff. The crew are being smashed around and soaked by the waves but, despite the conditions, they must get on board the ferry as a serious incident has occurred. These are the conditions of a recent training exercise for the Water Police’s elite Marine Response Team (MRT). The role of the MRT is to provide boarding capability within the ports of Victoria to assist counter terrorism agencies and respond to serious incidents or crimes that take place on the water. Leading Senior Constable Felicity Bell has been with the Water Police for 10 years, works part-time and has just completed the physically gruelling MRT course. “It was hard work, but it was fantastic, a great personal achievement after having three children,” she said. “It was a three-week course and some days the conditions weren’t ideal, but I’m now qualified to tactically operate the inflatable boats, giving me the ability to be part of the MRT and enabling me to respond to high-level incidents aboard other vessels.”
A recent one included a drug and alcoholaffected man on a houseboat in Eildon.
“Working at the Water Police gives me the ability to combine work with my own interests.
The boat was on the lake with a group of people on board. At 2am, the MRT was called to pair up with local police and respond to a family violence incident where a man was angry and violent. The MRT crew boarded the boat and arrested him.
“I enjoy the challenges this role offers, learning all the new technical skills and being out on the boats. Seeing Felicity recently complete the MRT course has given me the inspiration to aim to achieve that as well.”
Another incident occurred in Corio Bay, when a group of men living aboard a boat were making threats to kill an Imam at a mosque. The MRT boarded the boat in the middle of the night, surprising the occupants and making an arrest without incident. Water Police members also run the 24hour Rescue Coordination Centre, which coordinates search and rescue incidents across the state. Victoria Police’s Water Police has 60 members and, while there are only three women there at the moment, Ldg Sen Const Bell hopes more will join. “Joining the Water Police is not just about boats,” she said. “A love of the water and a healthy respect for it are important. “To work in the Water Police you need to be resilient, tenacious and creative with how you go about your work.
Sergeant Matthew Henderson said he was thrilled to have Ldg Sen Const Bell as the MRT’s second female member, but the first in 10 years.
“It is important for women to be selected on merit and there is nothing at all precluding them from joining the squad.”
“Felicity is a great example of how hard work and determination can help anyone complete this course,” he said.
Senior Constable Madeleine McDonald joined the Water Police in May and Senior Constable Bonnie Hewett joined in December last year.
“It does take a certain amount of fitness, but at the Water Police you will be supported and get help to increase and maintain that level of fitness.”
Sen Const McDonald came from the Operations Response Unit and was looking to do something different.
Sgt Henderson said the MRT responded to many and varied jobs year-round.
“I’ve always had a love for water sports and the outdoors,” she said.
Sen Const Hewett decided to join the Water Police because she wanted to combine the outdoors with policing. She said moving from the Ballarat Family Violence Unit to a specialist role was challenging. “It’s a steep learning curve when you first get to the office and a different environment than a fast-paced police station. “Working at the Water Police is very rewarding. I’ve been involved in interesting jobs that require a lot of responsibility, while you also get to have a lot of fun on the water. “I’ve really enjoyed learning about navigation, rope work and being involved in the coordination of search and rescue incidents.”
Images Marine team 01 Ldg Sen Const Bell is kitted up for Marine Response Team training. 02 Recent training for the team involved boarding a ferry in Port Phillip Bay. 03 Ldg Sen Const Bell with the other women in the Water Police, Sen Const McDonald and Sen Const Hewett. Editorial: Janae Houghton Photography: Shane Bell
To find out more about the inspiring women at Victoria Police, visit the Behind the Badge exhibition at the Victoria Police Museum. More details on page 6.
POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
A DAY THEIN AINDAY LIFE OF OF THE LIFE
PROTECTIVE SERVICES OFFICERS
Commuters feel safer since the rollout of Protective Services Officers (PSOs) at 215 train stations in Victoria. Police Life went on patrol with PSOs at Ballarat and Werribee train stations to find out how they are making a difference.
Ballarat PSOs Nicholas Derecki and Heather Ritchie stand at the station platform waiting to greet a Melbourne train carrying peak hour commuters. With trains generally arriving on the hour, the PSOs do a lap of the station, holding yards and nearby car parks before making their way back to the platform. “We try to meet every train, unless we are with someone. It’s a good way for us to let people know we are here and to make them feel safe. Everyone gives us a big smile,” PSO Derecki said. While on patrol the PSOs are on the look-out for people drinking alcohol or committing crimes such as criminal damage and theft from and of motor vehicles. They also walk commuters to
POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
their cars if they feel unsafe late at night. At the end of a shift the PSOs have walked about 10 to 15 kilometres. PSO Ritchie said she really enjoys the job and that every day is different. “It can be really quiet and all of a sudden three different things can happen at once. Luckily the local police station is really close if we need back-up,” she said. Before the introduction of PSOs at Ballarat, local police were regularly called to the train station. The presence of PSOs helped to change behaviours and has given commuters a greater sense of safety. PSO Derecki said they talk to people about appropriate behaviour, help police find people wanted on warrants and ensure people with drug and mental health issues are referred to support services. For him, one of the more rewarding parts of his job is when people thank them for their presence. “We had a lady in her 80s tell us how she hadn’t gone to the theatre in 20 years because she was too scared to travel on the train into the city, but now she feels safe enough to travel and has started going again,” PSO Derecki said. PSO Derecki was part of the first PSO squad to graduate and was deployed for service in February 2012. Victoria Police has 1145 PSOs and fulfilled its commitment to have PSOs based at every metropolitan train station and four regional train stations. Transit and Public Safety Command’s Assistant Commissioner Chris O’Neill was happy to see the project reach fruition. “At the start, the project was met with some scepticism, but I am proud of the hard work that has gone into implementing the PSOs and helping create a safer public transport system for Victoria,” he said.
AC O’Neill said police and PSOs worked brilliantly together.
“Behind the scenes, we’ve had a number of transit sergeants working with the PSOs mentoring and supervising them. It’s been a real team effort,” he said. At Werribee, the outside temperature plummeted into single digits when PSOs got ready to head out to local train stations for their shift. Transit West’s Sergeant Troy Groves and PSO Kristian Martenyi brief the 22 PSOs about a man wanted for assault and teenagers connected to a string of aggravated burglaries. Often detectives from the station’s Tasking Unit and Crime Investigation Unit (CIU) sit in on these briefings as PSOs regularly come into contact with offenders using the train network. One time the CIU needed to identify eight offenders for a robbery and after showing their photographs at the PSO briefing they identified every single person.
Sgt Groves and PSO Martenyi brief PSOs before their shift at Werribee Police Station.
Werribee PSO Aaron Thanas recalled arresting a man trying to steal a bike at the train station. “We later found out that police were looking for the same man, wanted for an armed robbery,” he said. PSOs also assist police to keep a look out for registered sex offenders and notify them if they are caught loitering around children or in breach of their parole conditions. Sgt Groves said PSOs provided a strong visible presence at stations and deterred antisocial behaviour.
Police and PSOs meet at Werribee train station to discuss reports of antisocial behaviour at the station.
“We’ve got a great rapport with PSOs and have three police members who started out as PSOs, but our main expectation is that they are out greeting commuters when every train arrives and interacting with the public to make sure they are safe,” he said. “PSOs are really here to help.” Ballarat PSOs Derecki and Ritchie chat with Maryborough teen Mitchell Walker while he waits for his train.
“We constantly monitor trends and issues on the public transport system and our intelligence is telling us that the community is feeling much safer travelling on the system at night, knowing the PSOs are there.”
The program was increased earlier this year with the introduction of the Night Network. This meant 24-hour public transport on weekends for Victorians, seeing more PSOs employed.
Image Safer stations 01 P SOs Derecki and Ritchie patrol the Ballarat
train station's car park. Editorial: Jane McCubbin Photography: Craig Sillitoe
To find out how you can become a PSO, visit policecareer.vic.gov.au/pso
Train station car parks are regularly patrolled by Ballarat PSOs Derecki and Ritchie.
POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
-GriefIt has been almost 20 years since his daughter was murdered, and George Halvagis continues to pave the way for other victims of crime to achieve better outcomes.
POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
Saturday, 1 November, 1997, was the ‘Feast of Unmercenary Saints’ – a celebration of good deeds for the Greek Orthodox community. But on this particular day, not all deeds were to be good. At 8pm George Halvagis received a call from his daughter Mersina’s fiancé asking if he knew where Mersina was. She hadn’t contacted anyone all day and the family was concerned. It was totally out of character. Mersina was 25, a university graduate and Mr Halvagis’ second oldest child. They were as close as any father and daughter could be. “She was intelligent, pretty and popular, in love and engaged to be married,” Mr Halvagis said. “She was my rock, the one I turned to.” Becoming frantic, Mr Halvagis’ other children searched for Mersina, while he and his wife Christine waited anxiously by the phone. “The radio was tuned to 3AW and we heard a report that a female body had been found at the Fawkner Cemetery. I just knew it was her,” he said. Soon after, police attended and informed the family of Mersina’s murder, changing their lives forever. “I grew up as an orphan in Greece,” Mr Halvagis said.
“I had no formal schooling and no prospects. At 16, I arrived in Melbourne, then moved to the Mallee, I married and started my family. I considered myself one of the lucky ones, living in the luckiest of countries.
He also supported the successful campaign for the abolition of suspended sentences for serious crime and played a part in getting additional investigators in the Homicide Squad’s Cold Case Unit.
“Mersina was a dutiful daughter. I kissed her goodbye [on the day of her murder] and said I’ll see you tonight. That was the last time I spoke with her. I wish I’d said more.
However, Mr Halvagis’ proudest achievements relate directly to Mersina’s killer, Dupas.
“On her way home she stopped to tend my mother’s grave at the Fawkner Cemetery, which she did often. On this day, evil was waiting.”
students emotionally in the class. It motivates aspiring detectives to see an incident through the eyes of our community, through the eyes of a victim.”
Since then, while some people would have retreated from the world, Mr Halvagis used this experience to make changes in the community. Over the 14 years it took for Mersina’s killer, Peter Dupas, to be convicted and exhaust all his appeal options, Mr Halvagis sat in court daily, getting perspective on the legal process.
He initially shared his experience, supporting and providing advice to other families. He became the highest profile member of the Victims of Crime Group, using his position to effect change through the media, fundraising and individual counselling. A constant figure in black, he roamed the corridors of the Supreme Court offering moral support to families struggling with the complex legal world.
Images Fighting for victims 01 M r Halvagis is passionate about helping victims
of crime and their families. 02 M ersina Halvagis at her graduation.
Prior to this, unless the person in custody consented, police had to wait until their release
“His story, told in detail, always affects
Through his own sad eyes, Mr Halvagis realised victims of violent crimes could be better supported.
Amendments made to the Crimes Act in 2000 enabled police for the first time to question a person in custody for an unrelated matter.
He became heavily involved in increasing maximum compensation for victims of crime from $10,000 to $100,000 and contributed to increased rewards offered for information about serious crime from $100,000 to $1 million. Later he campaigned for the reform of double jeopardy laws in Victoria, allowing those acquitted of a crime to be retried under certain circumstances.
to interview them, meaning anyone serving a life sentence was effectively immune from additional prosecution. It was because of this amendment that Dupas was able to be interviewed about Mersina’s death. Police also lacked the power to take DNA samples from convicted criminals suspected of additional crimes. Mr Halvagis saw this changed. “I sat in state parliament every day during the debate. At midnight I got a call and I came in to see the finalised bill passed.” Mr Halvagis’ plight continues as ambassador for Crime Stoppers Victoria. He often tells his story to students at Victoria Police’s Detective Training School (DTS). DTS’s Sergeant Steve Trewavas said police officers striving to be detectives should hear Mr Halvagis’ story. “George is inspirational,” he said. “His story, told in detail, always affects students emotionally in the class. It motivates aspiring detectives to see an incident through the eyes of our community, through the eyes of a victim.”
Editorial: Senior Sergeant Anthoula Moutis Photography: Courtesy of the Herald Sun POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
“We had some very, very vulnerable victims, kids who had been offended against so often in their lives, they failed to even identify they were victims.”
POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
THE CIDER HOUSE
TASKFORCE Child Protection Week will be held from 4 to 10 September this year. To raise awareness of the plight of vulnerable children, Police Life looks at a taskforce set up to investigate at-risk youths and how it has improved the way police deal with victims with cognitive impairments. In 2013 investigators working at the Dandenong Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT) noticed a pattern of teenagers within state care being exploited. Troubled missing teens were being found in Dandenong, despite not living there, and some were telling their carers stories of sexual exploitation featuring the same children and various houses in the area. The jobs became quite complex and were eventually referred to the Sex Crimes Squad. From here Cider House Taskforce was set up and became a joint investigation between Dandenong SOCIT members, Sex Crimes detectives, child protection workers and staff from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Sergeant Holly Dalrymple was part of the taskforce and said the investigations were about so much more than just prosecuting offenders. “We had some very, very vulnerable victims, kids who had been offended against so often in their lives, they failed to even identify they were victims,” she said. “A lot of them had various cognitive impairments and we had to adapt our investigation techniques and use more tailored methods that would work with such vulnerable victims.” Sgt Dalrymple said most of the offending started on social media.
“For these kids, Facebook is a primary social outlet, they can sit there when they are alone and still socialise,” she said. “On the other end we had a group of men working in low-income jobs, who live in share houses and their only social outlet is also Facebook and other social media. They send out friend requests until someone accepts them and they then go through all their friends and request them as well. “As soon as they hear that ‘ping’ that they have been accepted, they will start messaging the girls, things like ‘you are beautiful, do you want alcohol? I can buy you alcohol’.” From there the grooming and offending happened quickly. “Sometimes they would just be taken to a place they didn’t know and blackmailed into sexual acts, other times the men would throw parties and encourage the girls to bring friends, ply them with alcohol and then sexually assault them,” Sgt Dalrymple said. The first aim of the investigation was to ascertain what had happened and then start to build a rapport and trust with the victims. “While it took a while for the victims to start to open up to us, in the background we were able to use a number of techniques to disrupt the offending,” Sgt Dalrymple said. “We were also teaching the victims, boys and girls, about grooming, about how these men might tell them they love them, but that it was unsafe to hang around these people. “This was the beginning of the end of the cycle of offending, with many of the victims starting to cut ties with these guys. Mostly the kids were simply craving the connection and affection that the predators showed them, right before they were offended against.” Cider House investigators also worked closely with Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA) outreach workers.
“This relationship was fantastic,” Sgt Dalrymple said. “A lot of our victims would never have reached out to get counselling because, like I’ve mentioned, they didn’t necessarily see themselves as victims. But with the CASA staff working side by side with us, they got this specialist assistance.” Cider House detectives arrested 28 men, charging six with crimes ranging from assault to rape. Charges were also filed against a seventh, but he was deported. Farhan Rezaie pleaded guilty to one count of sexual penetration of a child under 16 and multiple charges relating to online grooming. He received 2½ years’ imprisonment. Douglas Stillman pleaded guilty to one count of sexual penetration of a child under 16 and received a community corrections order. Police also issued 15 harbouring notices and served 18 intervention orders designed to keep the offenders away from the children. While Cider House is no longer operating, the information and lessons learned will continue to be taught to police across Victoria Police. “We learnt that this issue is widespread and that by actively engaging with DHHS and other stakeholders we can learn so much about building trust and rapport with some of the state’s most vulnerable victims. These kids are amazing and they deserve our most thorough and committed response to these investigations,” Sgt Dalrymple said. Victoria Police investigators are now running presentations and training across the state, specifically about the child exploitation investigation. “In addition, a state-wide policy is being created and will be introduced to ensure the way we deal with this type of offending and these victims is best practice.”
Editorial: Janae Houghton POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
CRACKING DOWN ON CARD SKIMMING 01
POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
A A THE MONEY TAST A FOLLOW A THE
A team of detectives at the Fraud and Extortion Squad joined forces with major financial institutions to stop international crime gangs from stealing money through ATM card skimming. In 2010 the Fraud and Extortion Squad’s Detective Sergeant Mick Graham noticed a spike in the number of ATM card skimming cases coming across his desk.
A year later Detective Leading Senior Constable Peter Jessup joined him in his mission to stop the proliferation of card skimming syndicates.
A pattern was emerging – offenders were usually on tourist visas and were skimming people’s bank cards by attaching custom-built devices to ATMs.
“We started looking at it from an organised crime perspective and began charging offenders with conspiracy to defraud, which was leading to longer sentences,” Det Ldg Sen Const Jessup said.
These devices used card reading technology to record bank card information and captured pin numbers with small hidden cameras.
In the following years the squad made about 25 arrests with higher conviction rates and lengthier prison sentences.
There was a level of sophistication to the crime, as the card-skimming devices had to be undetectable, with the capability to retain and store large amounts of data and the capacity to extract the data to clone fake bank cards.
“The feedback we’re getting from the banks is that ATM skimming dropped in that time,” Det Ldg Sen Const Jessup said.
At the time, card skimmers who were caught were charged with obtain property by deception and deported, while others left the country before police could arrest them. Often the crime would result in tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars stolen. Unsatisfied with this outcome, Det Sgt Graham wanted harsher penalties for offenders. Working closely with a number of Australian banks, Det Sgt Graham and squad detectives got their first substantial conviction in 2010, with a card skimming ringleader jailed for six years.
The success was largely due to the relationships the Fraud and Extortion Squad developed with key partners including the banks, Border Force and Interpol. Information sharing was crucial with the banks providing real-time intelligence to detectives when security breaches occurred. Live monitoring and instant data sharing helped detectives crack a card skimming syndicate in 2014. Dubbed Operation Spiritless, the Romanian card skimming gang wore workmen’s clothes, wigs and construction hard hats to conceal their identity. The disguises stopped police from immediately identifying the suspects, but the activities of the crime gang were captured through bank data which, through careful analysis, led police straight to the suspects.
Don’t become a victim • Use your hand to cover the keypad when entering your PIN at an ATM. • Before using an ATM, try to wriggle the keypad or card reader. Do not use the machine if anything seems loose or if there are excessive scratches or damage to the machine, particularly around the card reader. • Monitor your bank account and credit card activity online and via your bank statements and keep an eye out for unusual transactions. • Immediately report any unauthorised purchases or withdrawals to your bank. For more information on how to protect yourself against fraud, visit police.vic.gov.au and click on the Crime Prevention and Community Safety tab on the left side of the page.
Did you know? The Fraud and Extortion Squad is responsible for investigating complex fraud and extortion cases including company fraud, corruption, cybercrime, identity theft and financial scams.
“We asked the banks to contact us as soon as they picked up any data activity connected to the gang and we were available on the phone 24 hours a day to coordinate any arrests,” Det Ldg Sen Const Jessup said. As the information started coming in, detectives were able to see patterns in the offenders’ behaviour and relayed this information to the banks. Bank staff then alerted police when they saw stolen bank card data being used to withdraw money and notified police, who swooped and arrested two suspects carrying a large amount of cash and cloned bank cards at an ATM in Malvern. Beaconsfield man, Dan Schneider, was the ringleader and received a 5½ year jail term after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud. His accomplice, Gheroghe Oltean, pleaded guilty to similar charges and was jailed for 2½ years. They had stolen almost $300,000 over three months. Det Ldg Sen Const Jessup said the same intelligence helped them catch another card skimming syndicate targeting similar ATMs more than a week later. “We shut them down really quickly because of the relationship we had developed with the bank and that has prevented a lot more money from being stolen,” he said.
Image Skimming stopped 01 D et Sgt Graham and Ldg Sen Const Jessup
with items used to transfer data from a skimming device to replicate bank cards. Editorial: Jane McCubbin Photography: Shane Bell POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
OUT & ABOUT
KYNETON POLICE STATION
Administrator Maxine Clohessy inspects stolen property items in the property cupboard.
POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
Kyneton Police Station staff make a stand against family violence.
Sgt Mark Bell talks to a victim outside the Kyneton Courthouse.
Nestled in amongst the Macedon Ranges police service area, Kyneton has a mix of history, art and culture. The local police work hard to be part of the community and keep crimes, such as family violence, at bay. Kyneton Police Station’s Sergeant Mark Bell freely admits his views of family violence have altered over the past few years. A police officer of more than 22 years, Sgt Bell has attended many family violence incidents. He said once upon a time, he would have thought to himself ‘why don’t these women just leave?’ “I’m not proud of it, but I sometimes did think that,” he said. But, since taking on the role as the Kyneton Family Violence Officer and dealing with family violence victims, support services and court services, Sgt Bell’s attitude is very different. “I now always think, what can I do to help?” Compared with metropolitan areas, Kyneton doesn’t have the same volume of reported family violence, but Sgt Bell said it was a serious problem for the area. “There are still far too many,” he said. “Our biggest concern is actually the people who aren’t reporting, so we hope to be able to reach them in some way.” Sgt Bell is the chairperson of the Macedon Ranges Family Violence Network which is made up of representatives from local council, community groups, local churches and businesses. “Of course a big part of our job is as first responders to family violence incidents. But another part is to help raise awareness and to ensure victims and survivors are aware of the resources available to them.”
The orginal cell block still exists at Kyneton.
It was through this network, that Sgt Bell came up with the idea of getting support service information printed on the back of local supermarket receipts. “For some of these women, with very controlling partners, having a phone number saved in their phone or a business card in their wallet could be very dangerous for them,” Sgt Bell said.
Senior Sergeant Tim Douglas recently transferred from the Sunbury Police Station to Kyneton and is enjoying the change of pace. “There is always plenty going on up here,” he said. “Some of the issues we encounter are family violence, mental health-related issues and of course drugs and the flow on effect from that.
“I thought, if we could put support service information on the back of a supermarket docket, where anyone can access it, it could be explainable to someone with a controlling partner to have this information in their purse or bag.”
“Our police station also has a Crime Investigation Unit (CIU) and a Highway Patrol unit (HWP).
Sgt Bell hopes to have the message on the back of shopper dockets in all supermarkets in the local area.
“All the members out here are great to work with, and all support each other where they can. Everything is a team effort.”
“I contacted Shop A Docket and they have been fantastic with helping us get this project to fruition,” he said.
Detective Senior Sergeant Steve Cole is the head of the CIU and said detectives were kept busy with residential burglaries.
“Based on their rough figures, within a six month time frame, the shopper dockets could be distributed more than half a million times.”
“We have some new estates nearby, with lots of houses under construction. We often see thefts of trailers and work tools as well.
Sgt Bell also hopes to distribute posters with the same information, to pubs, clubs and cafés in the area and to put on the back of the doors in women’s toilets.
“Over the summer, there is always the threat of fires in our area. We have seen some big ones over the years, so during that period we can also be kept busy with emergency management.”
“Where is the one place that women can go to get a minute’s peace if they are in an abusive relationship? The toilet. If the information is there right in front of them, they might then use those few minutes of alone time to ring the support services while they can.
“The HWP are kept especially busy with the Calder Freeway and keeping on top of serious injury collisions on that major thoroughfare.
“These are just some small ideas we are going to trial. We have to think outside of the box to try and reach our most vulnerable victims.” Sgt Bell is also planning a White Ribbon Golf Day for later in the year. The Kyneton Police Station was rebuilt in 2011 around the original cell building. Prisoners are no longer kept in the freezing cold bluestone building, but it holds historical significance.
Ldg Sen Const Paul O’Connell and Sen Const Joel Woods talk to a Kyneton local.
Image Out and about 01 Sgt Bell keeps an eye on things inside the Kyneton Police Station. Editorial: Janae Houghton Photography: Shane Bell
Sen Sgt Douglas and Sgt Bell discuss recent incidents.
POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
# # SOLVING CRIME IN CYBER SPACE
THE ARREST OF A MAN ON THE RUN FOR THREE YEARS, A WOULD-BE CAR THIEF CAUGHT IN 40 MINUTES AND A STOLEN WEDDING RING RETURNED TO ITS OWNER. THESE CRIMES MAY NEVER HAVE BEEN SOLVED WITHOUT SOCIAL MEDIA.
There are currently Eyewatch pages for Ballarat, Bass Coast, Bendigo, Boroondara, Brimbank, Casey, Darebin, Frankston, Geelong, Greater Shepparton, Hobsons Bay, Hume, Knox, Latrobe, Maribyrnong, Melton, Mildura, Stonnington, Warrnambool, Wyndham and Yarra Ranges.
POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
“The Eyewatch pages provide a platform for police to deliver safety messaging to the community and post local crime appeals.”
Social media is a big part of life in 2016 and Victoria Police continues to keep up, using it for solving crimes, finding missing people, locating wanted offenders, spreading safety messages and community engagement. Online Communications Unit’s manager Mark Bayly said Victoria Police’s Facebook page was one of the most engaging of all the policing jurisdiction pages in Australia. “The page has grown to almost 450,000 likes, up from 190,000 last year,” he said. “It has turned into such an amazing tool, not only for helping to solve crimes and locate missing people, but also for the positive stories that hit a real chord with the community.” Mr Bayly said the power of social media had seen more criminals turning up at police stations on their own accord. “We have plenty of police letting us know that criminals have come into the police station demanding Facebook posts with their faces on them be taken down, essentially handing themselves in,” he said. In 2012, Victoria Police set up Eyewatch pages on Facebook for a number of local government areas across Victoria. The 20 Eyewatch pages provide a platform for police to deliver safety messaging to the community and post local crime appeals. Creating a conversation between police and the community allows the public to provide information that can be vital to an investigation. Bass Coast is one area that is reaping the benefits of connecting with its digital community. It has more than 7000 followers and has seen some outstanding results in the short time the page has existed. Wonthaggi Police Station’s Senior Constable Chris Di Ciero is a regular contributor. “We recently posted information to locate a man wanted on warrants,” she said.
“He had been avoiding police for about three years, even moving interstate a few times but after publishing a post on Eyewatch, he was located and arrested within three days.” Sen Const Di Ciero said stories like this demonstrated the success of the medium. “It’s a great result. It’s got a few members talking about how effective Eyewatch can be for police.” This result is just one of many, with dozens of missing or wanted people located and crimes solved through Eyewatch. “Numerous offenders with outstanding warrants have either turned themselves in to local police stations or a member of the public has provided information about a person or crime,” Sen Const Di Ciero said. Another success story comes from the Eyewatch Latrobe page. Police posted a photo of a distinctive car that was stolen between 7.30am and 8.30am.
Social Media is also being used for crowd control and to stop public events getting out of hand before they even happen. Late last year three Rye teenagers quickly shut down a beach gathering they had planned using Facebook, when some unexpected guests RSVP’d. They had set up a Facebook event inviting more than 900 people to the Rye beach party. Local police heard about the party and a response was posted on the Victoria Police Facebook page. They posted: “Thanks for the invite Lleam, Tyson and Lachie. Rosebud police will definitely be attending? PS did you remember to get your permits from Mornington Peninsula Shire Council?” The post received more than 3800 likes and 180 comments. The event was taken down, and needless to say, it never occurred.
Morwell Police Station’s Leading Senior Constable Brett Godden said police received a call about 45 minutes later telling them where the car was. “Turns out a passerby stopped to help a man load a car onto a trailer,” he said. “His mum also stopped to see if she could help. They then followed the man to his house to unload the car. “The mum goes home and looks on Facebook and sees the Eyewatch story about the stolen vehicle and realises it was the one her son had helped load. The police were contacted and they recovered the vehicle and arrested an offender.” Earlier this year, a red Canon camera was found on a train and handed in to Chelsea police. The Online Communications Unit posted some of the photos on Facebook to see if they could find the owner. And they did. Brazilian traveller Juliana came forward to collect her camera. A Facebook post of her collecting the camera from Chelsea Police Station was viewed more than 220,000 times, was liked more than 4500 times and received 171 comments.
Do not report crime on social media. In an emergency, contact Triple Zero (000).
GET SOCIAL Facebook facebook.com/victoriapolice Twitter twitter.com/VictoriaPolice or @Victoria Police Instagram instagram.com/victoriapolice or @victoriapolice YouTube youtube.com/user/VPBlueTube
Editorial: Janae Houghton and Ashlee Williams POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
As Victoria Police strives to be a more inclusive workplace, Police Life speaks to three employees with a disability who have had positive careers in the organisation.
ALL INC One of the most popular staff members at Victoria Police’s Crime Command is Ejay, the guide dog.
Ejay belongs to Rhiannon, who is blind and works in administration support for the Planning Performance and Risk Unit. Ms Smith-Paul said her two years working with Victoria Police have been excellent. “I’ve found the organisation incredibly accommodating. Everyone has gone out of their way to ensure I have all the specialist equipment I need to do my job and my colleagues have been amazing and supportive.” Ejay is loved by everyone in the office and they are happy to have her roaming around. “Everyone loves to have a pat with Ejay, when she is not on duty,” she said. “Not long ago, Ejay hurt her knee and needed an operation. I was unable to pay for it, but my colleagues sent around an email and within 24 hours they had raised the money I needed to have her knee fixed. It was truly amazing.” Victoria Police currently employs 57 people who identify as having a disability, a more than two-fold increase from 27 people in 2015. In the past two years it has also introduced its Victoria Police Accessibility Action Plan. The plan has four main goals to ensure that Victoria Police delivers accessible and equitable policing services, is an inclusive and engaging organisation, improves its capacity to employ, develop and retain people with a disability and is a workforce with the right attitude and capability. Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton wants Victoria Police to be a more inclusive workplace.
POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
LUSIVE “We want to ensure people with disabilities feel valued, safe and supported in the community, in their interactions with Victoria Police and as employees,” he said. The plan’s key priority is to develop a consistent service delivery for people with disabilities so they feel confident in reporting crime to police and for people with a disability to have equal access to safety and justice. “However, the Accessibility Action Plan is more than a service delivery blue print,” CCP Ashton said. “It also aims to improve the capacity of Victoria Police to employ, develop and retain people with disabilities within the organisation.” Natale Cutri is legally blind and has worked for Victoria Police for more than 20 years. He is currently a financial analyst with Business Services’ Financial Services Department and enjoys his job. Mr Cutri has seen a lot of changes within the organisation. “Victoria Police has always been excellent at providing me with the equipment I may need to do my job more effectively,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate in my career and am lucky I am a strong-willed person who will speak up if I think something needs to be improved.”
As part of the Action Plan, an Employees with Disabilities Advocacy Network has been established to advise the organisation on ways it can be an inclusive and responsive employer to people with disabilities. “This is a really important step for the organisation and will give people with a disability a voice,” Mr Cutri said. Marcus Purdue is an intelligence support officer for Dandenong Police Station’s Crime Investigation Unit. He has a disorder called Friedreich’s ataxia, a rare inherited disease that causes nervous system damage and movement problems. It usually begins in childhood and leads to impaired muscle coordination that worsens over time.
Mr Purdue was an electrician before working for Victoria Police, but needed to do something less physically demanding. He is now working full-time, plus studying a Criminology Degree. Mr Purdue enthusiastically encourages other people with a disability to apply for jobs with Victoria Police. “My experience has been great. Everyone has been accommodating and encouraging and I have had no issues whatsoever.” Victoria Police continues to seek to attract and retain a diverse workforce, including people of all genders, ages, religions, disability, sexual orientation, family and caring responsibilities and cultures including people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage.
He has worked for Victoria Police for 3½ years and said his experience has been fantastic. “My mobility isn’t great so I have had to work at a police station where I can be on the bottom level and not have to go up and down stairs, but other than that, I don’t need any extra requirements to do my job,” he said. “My work colleagues are awesome, I’ve never been made to feel any different, but if I do need a hand there are always 100 people there willing to help.”
Images Hard working 01 Rhiannon and Ejay are popular with colleagues. 02 Natale Cutri (right) reads a document with a workmate. 03 Sgt Dean Hayes and Marcus Purdue. Editorial: Janae Houghton Photography: Andrew Henshaw
Mr Cutri has special software installed on his computer that enlarges fonts and reads out loud. He also has a talking calculator and a device that scans documents and magnifies them. He said he’s always had great managers. “In my 20 years, it is so important to me that I have the same rights as anyone else to opportunities and I think I have always been offered this. I never ask for pity or favouritism,” Mr Cutri said.
POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
CAREER IN FOCUS
SENIOR CONSTABLE YONG LIM From the Korean Army to hospitality studies and investigating the sex industry, the only Korean-speaking police officer at Victoria Police shares his story with Police Life. The Sex Industry Coordination Unit’s (SICU) Senior Constable Yong Lim joined policing as a 37-year old in January 2005. “I came to Australia from Korea after serving in the army,” he said. “I went to Korea to look for a job, after deferring my PhD course. However, there was limited work in hospitality in Korea. One day, I went to a hotel to submit a job application and met the general manager, who advised me to come back to Australia and continue the course.”
responses from each woman that sounded rehearsed, he became suspicious of them and the driver. He completed an information report for the Australian Federal Police (AFP). This small act, which could easily have been overlooked by anyone else, initiated a 12-month gig with the AFP’s Human Trafficking Team, where he became a critical asset for human trafficking investigations.
“A lot of students won’t report crime as they think it might affect their visa,” he said.
He had a major role in smashing a sex worker trafficking syndicate that had been running for 10 years and was the start of a more extensive career in sex industry enforcement.
Sen Const Lim is known to have a dictionary always at his fingertips, teaching himself new words and phrases every day.
On his return to Victoria Police, he joined the SICU where he checks licensed and illegal brothels to identify signs of human trafficking.
Sen Const Lim studied at Victoria University and worked as a part-time kitchen hand at a nursing home, before seeing an advertisement encouraging multicultural people to join Victoria Police.
“Our work is very victim-oriented,” Sen Const Lim said.
“English was my second language and the advertisement of Victoria Police was very appealing to me.
“A lot of women in the licensed and illegal sex industry are from many Asian countries. I visit them and build relationships and make sure they know that if they need anything, if they are being treated unfairly or exploited, that we can help.”
“I put my application in and met with a couple of police and other employees, who provided invaluable information about Victoria Police and the recruitment process. Those people later supported me at my graduation from the Victoria Police Academy.” Starting with a year in Transit, he moved to Melbourne East Police Station where he remained until 2013. “That’s where I started to get into local street policing,” Sen Const Lim said. It was also where he got a taste of human trafficking investigation in the sex industry. While on duty, Sen Const Lim intercepted a car with a number of young Korean women inside. After asking a few questions and getting similar
While the team regularly trains police across Victoria about the signs of human trafficking, they did their first presentation to a group of international students at La Trobe University recently.
“Not only do we investigate and arrest offenders, but our focus is to look after the welfare of victims.
A recent operation conducted by the unit involved the team visiting the majority of legal brothels in Victoria to see how they operate and check on workers’ welfare. “After the operation one girl contacted me because the brothel she was working at was in a filthy condition; there was a dirty and mouldy bathroom, dusty ceiling fans and their towels were not cleaned properly,” Sen Const Lim said. “We went out there and spoke to the brothel manager and had them clean it up. We then checked a few weeks later too.”
“We want to build up trust, as a lot of students come from countries where they don’t trust police and might fall victim to exploitation.”
He is also constantly scouring the internet for illegal activity, often finding illegal sexual services being provided from massage businesses, homes, apartments and other outlets, and recently detected the illegal transfer of funds to other countries. “The sex industry is so huge and it is possibly connected to crime issues like drugs, illegal prostitution, money laundering, human trafficking and exploitation,” Sen Const Lim said. SICU manager Senior Sergeant Marilynn Ross said Sen Const Lim was invaluable to the team. “He’s the voice of SICU,” she said. “He’s able to speak and read Korean and identify criminal acts that we can’t see.” One instance was identifying a Korean website that provided details of how to get a fraudulent Australian visa application. Sen Const Lim forwarded the details to the appropriate area for their investigation. “Sen Const Lim has managed to get people who were being exploited out of the sex industry,” Sen Sgt Ross said. “He’s very caring and passionate about making a difference.”
Editorial and Photography: Maria Carnovale 26
POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
Police Pals A letter writing program in Melbourne’s western suburbs is creating lasting friendships between young people and their local police. Children from Sunshine Primary School were recently treated to a visit from their ‘Big Buddies’ at Sunshine and Keilor Downs police stations as part of a community engagement program.
Literacy Buddies, a volunteer letter writing initiative managed by the Ardoch Youth Foundation, aims to improve the literacy of primary and secondary school children while forming a bond with members of their community, including Victoria Police members. Once a Little Buddy is paired with a Big Buddy, they exchange letters about their lives, school and work.
“Previously some of the kids didn’t enjoy writing... now they love it.”
Images Literacy buddies 01 Sunshine Primary School Grade 6 students enjoy a visit from their local police. 02 First Constable Catherine Madden spends time with her Little Buddy. 28
POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
It’s been six years since the program was adopted by Sunshine and Keilor Downs police and there are no signs of it slowing down. This year about 20 officers of different ranks were involved. Eleven of those police visited the school to meet their little buddies and answer their questions about policing. Following an extensive Q and A session, the children tried on the police vests and hats, even testing out the police car sirens.
Acting Sergeant Rob Dampier has led the program for the past three years and said as well as having a positive impact on the children, it had many benefits for police. “It’s a delight to run the program – all the officers love it,” he said. “It gives us an opportunity to engage with people right at the beginning. We love the enthusiasm from the kids. If the first interaction with police can be a positive one, hopefully we can set them up for the future.” Sunshine Primary School Grade 6 teacher Donna O’Brien noticed a positive change in her students when they started the program. “Previously some of the kids didn’t enjoy writing,” she said. “Now they love it. The program has helped them reconnect with the community and they’re thrilled to write to the police and meet them.” Ms O’Brien said the enthusiasm from the police was also clear. “The police do a great job with their letters. They put in a lot of effort and even use stickers and police tape.”
Editorial: Ashlee Williams Photography: Shane Bell
BACK on TRACK “It really struck a chord with us and we decided to buy Josh a new bike ourselves. His mother broke down in tears when we told her our plan.”
A teenager was thrilled when police bought him a brand new mountain bike after his was stolen weeks earlier. Boronia Police Station’s Sergeant Sam Roach said 13-year-old Joshua Rexter was devastated when he reported the theft of his precious bike at the station. “Josh was quite emotional and told us how his parents saved long and hard to buy him his bike,” Sgt Roach said. “He was devastated and thought he had let his parents down.” Joshua’s mother later confirmed with Sgt Roach and Senior Constable Katie Arnol that they had to save up to buy the bike.
Image Bike back 01 Joshua with the new bike and newfound friends.
“It really struck a chord with us and we decided to buy Josh a new bike ourselves. His mother broke down in tears when we told her our plan,” Sgt Roach said.
Sgt Roach and Sen Const Arnol received overwhelming support from police at the station who dug deep donating money from their own pockets to fund Joshua’s new bike. Joshua had no idea he was getting the bike and was asked to meet Sgt Roach at the local store. Sgt Roach told him he needed advice on buying a bike and asked Joshua to read the price tag on one of the bikes because he had left his reading glasses in the car. The price tag read ‘property of Joshua Rexter from your friends at Boronia Police’. “It was then that Joshua realised the bike I was showing him was actually his,” Sgt Roach said. “His reaction was priceless and hugs were given all-round.”
Photography: Courtesy of Norm Ooloff, Herald Sun POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
BADGE AND BEYOND
01 Images Then and Now 01 E ileen Rainford as a young police woman. 02 Ms Rainford was proud to receive her medals.
EILEEN RAINFORD At 94 years of age, Eileen Rainford could be forgiven for thinking her days of receiving police medals were over. But the former police officer, sergeant 11628 and police woman number 26, was thrilled when Deputy Commissioner Andrew Crisp turned up at her nursing home to present her with a National Police Service Medal (NPSM) and a Victoria Police Service Medal (VPSM). The VPSM recognises more than 10 years of diligent and ethical service to Victoria Police and the NPSM is awarded to police officers for 15 years or more of ethical and diligent service. DC Crisp told her carers and friends that Ms Rainford led a distinguished career at Victoria Police between November 1952 and September 1976. “Ms Rainford served at public relations, Russell Street, St Kilda General Duties and went to Flemington as a sergeant,” he said.
“She then went to Frankston and worked in the operations department. In 1959 she was commended for devotion to duty.
“They said it was because it would be too difficult to do two jobs, like home and a job. Of course, it’s quite different these days.”
“Throughout her career she was known as considered, well conducted, capable, experienced, energetic, reliable and an efficient sub-officer with a pleasant personality. Upon her retirement it was noted that she was a 'distinct loss to the police department'.”
She said she will always have fond memories of Victoria Police.
Ms Rainford was overwhelmed with the presentation. “This is the most surprising thing,” she said.
“The friends I made were life-long. That sort of bond is very strong. We did the hard yards, but I’d do it all again.” The Past and Present Police Women Association of Victoria’s president Monique Swain and The Police Association’s Senior Sergeant Alex Griffith also attended the medal presentation.
“I still really miss being a policewoman and I just love these medals.” Ms Rainford reminded everyone how different things were for women in the early days. “We weren’t allowed to be married. It wasn’t until 1972 that the law changed. If you married, you had to leave.
If you know a former police officer who would like to share their interesting career during and beyond policing, contact firstname.lastname@example.org via email.
Editorial: Janae Houghton Photography: Peter Clarke 30
POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
.05 SAVES LIVES
Victoria Police led the way to safer roads with the introduction of random breath testing 40 years ago. In 1976, Victoria was the first Australian state to start randomly breath testing drivers using a ‘puff bag’, which took about five minutes to get a result.
“The percentage of drivers killed with a BAC of .05 and above more than halved from almost 50 per cent in 1976 to just over 24 per cent in 2009,” he said.
It required a driver to blow through a glass tube containing crystals that reacted with alcohol and inflated a plastic bag.
“By 2014 the number of drivers killed with illegal amounts of alcohol in their system had fallen to 22, just under 16 per cent of all drivers killed.”
The introduction of random breath testing was the first step towards reducing the lives lost on Victoria’s roads and innovation in road safety continued with the first booze buses and electric testing devices introduced in 1983.
Insp Boorman said Victoria was still leading the way in reducing road trauma.
From then on, Victoria Police continued to increase the number of random breath tests performed and, in 1987, legislation was introduced giving police the ability to immediately suspend drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 and above. Road Policing’s Inspector Martin Boorman said with the increase in enforcement came a decrease in Victoria’s road toll.
“Penalties for drink driving continue to increase and harsher sentences for repeat offenders have also been introduced,” he said. “But there are emerging issues like drug driving that is among the biggest killer on Victorian roads. “Victoria Police introduced random roadside drug testing in December 2004 and is now removing 18 drug drivers each day from the roads.”
02 Images Safer roads 01 Insp Boorman with a current breath testing device and one used in the 80s. 02 Four decades of breath testing equipment, including the puff bag.
Editorial: Maria Carnovale Photography: David Johns POLICE LIFE | SPRING 2016
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