Police fired up over foul language case
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.