Po­lice fired up over foul lan­guage case

Townsville Bulletin - - News - by Roanne John­son roanne. john­son@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

THE Queens­land Po­lice Min­is­ter has re­sponded an­grily over com­ments that po­lice of­fi­cers should ac­cept be­ing sworn at while on the job.

Min­is­ter Neil Roberts said he was ap­palled that Queens­land Coun­cil of Civil Lib­er­ties pres­i­dent Michael Cope did not con­demn the use of the ‘‘ C word’’ and the ‘‘ F word’’ to­wards po­lice.

‘‘ No worker in any oc­cu­pa­tion should be ex­pected to ac­cept ver­bal abuse as part of their job – why should po­lice be any dif­fer­ent?’’ he said.

‘‘ Be­ing ver­bally abused in per­form­ing one’s work is un­ac­cept­able in any work­place and, in ap­pro­pri­ate cases, the courts can and should im­pose penal­ties on those who step over the line.’’

Mr Roberts called for Mr Cope to apol­o­gise and re­tract his com­ments made to the Townsville Bul­letin in­clud­ing the re­mark that po­lice just used bad lan­guage as an ex­cuse to charge peo­ple with an of­fence. ‘‘ Does the Civil Lib­er­ties Coun­cil also be- lieve that am­bu­lance of­fi­cers, fire and res­cue of­fi­cers and other emer­gency ser­vice work­ers should also ac­cept such abuse?’’ Mr Roberts said.

The Queens­land Po­lice Ser­vice yes­ter­day posted the Bul­letin’s ar­ti­cle with Mr Cope’s com­ments on their Face­book site with the mes­sage: ‘‘ We are post­ing this story be­cause we be­lieve it is an im­por­tant is­sue for our of­fi­cers, and thought you might like to de­bate it.’’

The site re­ceived 800 com­ments from its mem­bers in just four hours, while on the Bul­letin web­site 67 re­sponses were posted and an­other 107 on www. news. com. au. Mr Cope re­sponded to the con­tro­versy claim­ing that while he did not con­done the use of of­fen­sive or abu­sive lan­guage at po­lice, it was some­times used as an ex­cuse to slap on the hand­cuffs.

‘‘ What the coun­cil says is that the use of such lan­guage to po­lice has too of­ten be­come the pre­text by po­lice for charg­ing dis­ad­van­taged or ine­bri­ated peo­ple,’’ he said. ‘‘ The point about po­lice is they have the power to ar­rest peo­ple and have a his­tory of mis­us­ing that power in this con­text.’’

The pres­i­dent made the com­ments when re­mark­ing on a Townsville Mag­is­trates Court case ear­lier this week af­ter a drunk male was saved from an an­gry mob at a Pim­lico party by two po­lice­men. Vin­cent labourer Zachary Shane Robert­son called t hem ‘ ‘ c** t s’’ and l abelled t hem prejudiced when he saw that none of his at­tack­ers were be­ing locked up. The 20-year-old chal­lenged his ar­rest on the ba­sis ‘‘ the of­fi­cers should not be of­fended by the use of the word’’ but lost, cop­ping a $ 1200 fine from Mag­is­trate Rod Mad­sen.

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