Sunday, October 19, 2008

Morality and the police

I've been a cop in my life, for sixteen years in fact, although I did resign in 1997.   And there were times of moral dilemma that occured throughout that time, particularly in the early years when the old school coppers were still around.  I saw no great evidence of corruption, although there were times when blind eyes were turned to minor crimes and other times when people were bricked for offences when the evidence for conviction wasn't quite enough.   And I hasten to add that I never falsified evidence at any time, although I did let some people off minor offences using my discretion.    But I did know some old school coppers who did push boundaries at the time.   Blokes who learnt the ropes in the 60's and 70's when the world was a differnet place.    For the most part the old school detectives knew they may have to stretch the truth and the old school crooks knew it was a fair cop anyway.

Times change of course.  Footing a kid up the bum when they were wrecking letter boxes became unacceptable, beating confessions out of armed robbers is no longer allowed, and that's not a bad thing.   One of the things that has really changed is the release of information.  In the old days it was common practice to pass on information to outsiders, other agencies, law enforcement professionals, private investigators etc., but that can't be done anymore.

That's why the revelation that Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon said something to Collingwood Football Club President Eddie Maguire about the recruitment of Ben Cousins raises a number of concerns in my mind.  The Chief has to practice what she preaches.  Now the information is public it is in the public interest to know exactly what was said and in what context.  If it was innocent then there should be no issues.  If you are head of a department that prosecutes it's own for unauthorised release of information then you must be prepared to put yourself up to scrutiny when it appears you have done the same.   Of course people can have an opinion but when you are in the public eye and your opinion counts you have to be very sure of what you say.

At this stage it is Ben Cousins who stands to lose out because of what may have been said by the Chief Commissioner.  And in many ways it doesn't matter whether what she said was correct or not.  Perception is what is important here


Andrew said...

Gee, I can understand the frustration of younger to mid age cops who hear of how things used to be done, and they can't take a simple and effective course anymore. But they were the old days and things had to move on. Yours is a fair call on Ms Nixon and detect a bit of media no go area.

Blur Ting said...

Several days ago, a young girl of 14 committed suicide because she was worried about attending a court case. She was arrested for shoplifting earlier this year. The cop who arrested her felt sad and guilty for not letting her off.

I think sometimes the cops don't realise the trauma these kids go through. At 14, they're still very young and may not be able to handle such stress.

Today, an epilepsy counsellor wrote to the newspapers how our police should be trained to handle epileptics after one of their adult members was unfairly arrested by the police for drunkedness and denied medication and suffered additional seizures at the police station.

Well, sometimes the cops need to change the way they work or simply have a heart when the situation calls for it.

Loz said...

Andrew, things did have to move on, times have changed for the better.

Loz said...

Blur, cops are human too with all the foibles that brings and sometimes that means they have poor judgement or maybe simply a bad day. No excuse for that of course because the privilege of wearing the uniform brings responsibilities to treat people without fear or favour.