OFFICERS ON RED ALERT
Police on edge after escalation in violent crime
IT IS only a matter of time before a police officer is seriously injured or killed, concerned cops say, after two nights of alleged violence targeting the men and women in blue.
Frontline officers are fed up, frustrated and feeling powerless after bricks were allegedly thrown through cop car windscreens, rammed while sitting idle and run off the road in two nights of mayhem. Seven marked cars have been allegedly damaged and two officers have been hospitalised.
Multiple police sources told the Bulletin that officers were frustrated, and every day at work was a risk.
“We’re worried about coming to work every day, that’s the reality of the job,” a source said. “It really is only a matter of time before one of us is hurt or killed.”
The latest incident started about 11.35pm on Tuesday at the intersection of Ronan and Palmerston streets in Vincent when police say that a person in a stolen car threw a rock into the side window of a police car.
The glass shattered and went into the eye of a police officer, who was taken to hospital.
Less than an hour later, another police car was allegedly rammed by the same stolen car. An officer in the second car suffered a back injury.
It comes two days after kids allegedly attacked five police cars on Sunday by running them off the road and throwing bricks at their cars.
Townsville Chief Superintendent Craig Hanlon said that the behaviour was “despicable” when he announced the start of Operation Tango Capella to hunt down the alleged offenders.
“Police go out to the community to … keep them safe. But when you have people deliberately ramming police cars, it’s concerning,” Superintendent Hanlon said.
“It is very worrying. We will
be out in force and we will put every available resource at our disposal to hunt these people down and take them off the streets,” he said.
So far, two juveniles have been arrested over the incidents on Sunday night, but more are still on the run.
A 26-year-old man has been charged with unrelated offences, but more charges are expected.
Dozens of officers have arrived in Townsville from Cairns and the southeast to alleviate a stretched and exhausted team and track down those remaining.
Another police source told the Townsville Bulletin that officer morale was being damaged by the lack of punishment given to those they arrest.
“They’ll always get caught, but what will their punishment be?
“That’s what’s frustrating people more than anything,” the source said.
Northern Region Assistant
Commissioner Mark Wheeler said staff welfare was paramount, and the attacks should never have happened.
“Of course, they are getting frustrated, we’re fortunate it wasn’t worse, but it should never have happened,” Mr Wheeler said.
“But it is the unfortunate part of the job, you can ultimately be putting your safety on the line.”
Superintendent Hanlon said that police would track down the remaining suspects over the next few days. “We haven’t got them all. So we’re in the process of gaining evidence, rattling a few cages and getting more evidence and then locking more people,” Superintendent Hanlon said.
The attack comes a day after Townsville magistrate Cathy Wadley was allegedly threatened in her home and had her car stolen by a man who allegedly committed a crime rampage from Sarina to Townsville.