What will we do about these tragedies? 273



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In the last week, it seems like police shootings have been all over our TV screens. You’re not imagining it – in the last week there have been 3 fatal shootings by Queensland Police, bringing the total for this year to 6 shootings and 4 fatalities.

It is a double-edged sword and a topic of much discussion and controversy. There are so many questions. Who was in the wrong here? Who do we blame? Why did it happen?

This morning, Terry O’Gorman from the Civil Liberties Council spoke to Richard Fidler on 612 ABC about the latest police shooting on Monday night in Southport – the second in two days. He said that immediate action needs to be taken by the Crime and Corruption Commission as coronial inquests into fatal police shootings can take anywhere from 12 months to two years. He also said that he was unsure why tasers were not being used in these incidents as they were sold on the sole purpose that they would prevent police from drawing their firearm. “The police don’t need the trauma and neither do the families…Clearly there is an issue in the number of police shootings in recent times”, he said.

Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart also spoke to the ABC and defended police by saying that the QLD force receive 500,000 calls a year, meaning these rare occurrences are just a mere blip in the amount of crimes that police deal with annually. He admitted that the three fatal shootings in the past week by his police have affected the community’s confidence in them but wanted to reiterate that the very last thing that officers will do is pull their firearm and shoot. So is poor decision making to blame or is it lack of time to make any other decision?

With these two conflicting opinions, who is in the right? Putting the crimes of the deceased aside and whether or not they were in the wrong, is it ever O.K. for the police to shoot someone fatally? Why can they not shoot to maim instead of kill? Apparently because they are being presented with a dangerous situation where they have no choice but to draw their gun and shoot where they need to.

I feel like it is a case of the police being trigger happy but then again, what would I know? I am just an outsider who was not there. So is it fair for me to say it was not right to shoot these three men dead in the last week? I guess the only thing I struggle to understand is why other tactics to apprehend someone with a knife weren’t used, i.e. tasers, batons or even the humble pepper spray. And like anything, isn’t it better to have someone explain their actions and have a chance to redeem themselves, instead of responding in a way that will scar both the family of the victim and the police officer? Again, the Queensland Police do believe their officers will do what they have to in the face of crime using any means possible, but is that satisfactory? Are we safe on the streets knowing that if we look like we have a weapon, the police may just shoot us to save themselves?

The shootings aren’t a great look for the Queensland Police, who have been compared in recent days to the Michael Brown case in America, where it is believed excessive force was used on a teenager. Today a verdict was handed down to Ferguson, Missouri officer Darren Wilson and he was cleared of all charges, causing riots to spark again on the streets of the US town.

It is clear that police are being watched carefully by the public now, with more and more crying out for something to be done. The question now is what exactly needs to change? The police’s mentality surrounding the use of their guns or the people who face the cops with a weapon?

Tell us your thoughts about the issue below. Do you think the police should do what they need to? What would you do if you were a police officer? Or should police officers use other means to apprehend someone they suspect of attempting to kill them? 

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  1. shoot to maim ..don’t shoot to kill, at the moment the Police appear to be trigger happy, but in saying that I know they have a difficult job.

    3 REPLY
    • Libbi if a man was coming at you with a knife and threatening you would you take extra seconds to aim at his leg, you may miss and where would you be then?

    • all good in theory, Libby, but if you’ve got someone a few metres away, who suddenly runs at you with a knife, body, arms and legs going in all directions, not even the best target shooter in the world would be able to hit a particular part of the body.

    • Anne I have never ever even seen a gun, I am not trained to shoot at anyone but our police are well trained, I am not condemning them, I can imagine in that situation you shoot first and think later. It is very sad for all concerned

  2. Why do these people have a weapon in the first place, unless they intend to do harm to whomever gets in their way. I don’t think shooting is an option any police officer wants to take but unless we are there, how do we know the situation. Simple, don’t want to get shot then don’t brandish a weapon!!!

    2 REPLY
    • Totally agree, don’t attack the police and you will not get hurt. It is easy for the person who wrote this garbage about police shootings while he is desk jockey. The police lay their life on the line every day and I am sure if someone came at me I would shoot as well. As for shooting to maim, I am sure in the split second you have a decision to make you do what comes naturally, self preservation so you can prevent that person from harming others. Tasers and pepper spray are not the be all and end all. It is a very very difficult situation that causes pain in both the police and the families concerned.

  3. Who closed down all the mental hospitals? ?? LABOR. …since then the Police have had to deal with these people

    12 REPLY
    • please note the dates.. this is has been happening for years..In 2013, the Australian Institute of Criminology released a report detailing fatal police shootings between 1989 and 2011. In that period,
      police fatally shot 105 people. The victims were almost entirely male
      and 60% were between 20 and 39 years of age.Of those persons shot by police, 42% were suffering a mental illness at the time of the shooting. Schizophrenia was the most common illness
      (59% of those with a mental illness) suffered. In ONE of the
      recent Queensland shootings, the person shot was allegedly a sufferer of
      mental illness…CHECK YOUR FACTS

    • DRUG induced schizophrenia CHECK the facts!!!!

      1 REPLY
      • Regardless of how the mental illness was induced, it is nevertheless a mental illness. The best way to deal with one of these episodes is to watch and wait – keep everyone else out of harm’s way, but back off and keep yourself and the suspect safe.

    • I am not condemning the Police, I am simply pointing out the ignorance in blaming Labor when the facts are out there and speak for themselves, if your going to blame Labor for anything make sure its not BS because I will check and find the facts and refute what your saying

    • Absolutely agree – would ask the question, were these people suffering from mental illness? What is the government doing about providing proper support for sufferers? They simply get them out of hospital asap and leave the problem to the community and the police force who should not have to deal with it.

    • How do we stop this? Maybe a lobby group like the Daniel Morcombe Foundation to lobby government support for our relatives who suffer from mental illness?

    • How many under 35’s mentally ill so far has the Liberal and National Government taken off the DSP? there is bound to be problems..it was never a good idea

    • Gives them less money for drugs and booze Shana…everything else they get for free…the problem is they are committed by a Dr and because of all the politically correct nonsense they cant make them stay…theu just sign themselves out when I was young there was a large facility at Ryde….probably apartments now

    • So silly to get into politics ,who did what when….The mental health system has been ignored and under.resourced for years and years…..All governments have passed the buck for years and years….Someone needs to stand up……The government doesn’t even support their own police with their mental health…….This is the real issue!!!

    • Not all schizophrenia is DRUG Induced! But a great deal of crimes committed ARE drug related……

      1 REPLY
      • That is it Chris. Schitzophrenics are much more likely to harm themselves than others. It is the drug induced psychosis that is the problem.

  4. How many police have been killed in the line of duty compared with the shooting of adversaries? I dont condone nor condemn them. Solution… who knows? The world has gone crazy. There are so many laws protecting the people for various reasons but what about the police who put themselves out there to protect us, work their butts off to convict the criminals for them to walk free due to some technicality then get blamed for not doing there duty. For most of us, if we are forgetful in our work on a small detail due to pressure it may mean just a rap on the knuckles but for the police it can be life changing. I admire those that are still willing to put themselves out there by joining the police in what seems to be a thankless job.

    3 REPLY
    • It cannot be ignored that police do from time to time face threats to their lives. This is supported by a study into police deaths in Australia, which showed that 15 officers were killed by attacks in Australia between 1991 and 2007. Stabbings or shootings were the main causes of death.

      1 REPLY
      • And that is not taking into account the number of police officers who suicide due to their job and PTSD.

    • I believe, that it all stems from the fact, that workers compensation has been severely cut. For instance, no more after 3 years! Not even lost legs or hearing aids were covered, until it is challenged in court! Where are we going with that one?

  5. So there is no mention of taser guns being used. What type of people enter the police force, that allows them to shoot with guns?

    1 REPLY
    • Halina, I don’t know about Qld but in NSW they go through the academy (or did a few years ago) only with gun training and there is a back up of current officers for the laser usage training.

  6. We shouldn’t be trying to blame police for doing their job. We should be looking at the ever increasing violence in our society. It is scary.

    8 REPLY
  7. If someone nutty or not came at me with an knife an axe or tried to hurt my family I’d blow their head off without a second thought. The world doesn’t need killers and nut jobs running loose on the streets. Go cops kill them all save us the money it takes to keep them locked up.

  8. How many police have been killed or maimed by the public they have sworn to protect !!!!! let alone the suicide rate of police,this is a job that is demanding mentally an physically 24/7 so maybe if we didn’t breed murders,rapists,child molesters and people drugged and alcohol affected our dedicated police would not be put in these situations,what would happen if next time you needed to ring 000 no one came ??????????????????

  9. please note the dates, don’t let these Liberal supporters blame Labor..they are desperate to shift the blame for anything from this dysfunctional Liberal Party.. this is has been happening for years..In 2013, the
    Australian Institute of Criminology released a report detailing fatal
    police shootings between 1989 and 2011. In that period, police fatally shot 105 people. The victims were almost entirely male and 60% were between 20 and 39 years of age.Of those persons shot by
    police, 42% were suffering a mental illness at the time of the
    shooting. Schizophrenia was the most common illness (59% of those with a mental illness) suffered. In ONE of the recent Queensland shootings, the person shot was allegedly a sufferer of mental illness..

    1 REPLY
    • Being mentally ill or drunk, or angry is no excuse to attack ANYONE (not just Police) If a dangerous animal attacks and life is in danger and the best way to stop it is kill it then do it. It would be done without hesitation if it was a species other than human. Trust me a human on the rampage is harder to control than an animal.

      1 REPLY
      • Agree completely – it may be a reason, but it is NEVER an excuse.

  10. mike here- there should be 3 questions at the investigations into these shootings. 1. Was the person armed? 2/. Was the person told to put down the weapon? 3. Did the person put down the weapon? If the answers are Yes. Yes. & No. Then sorry matey, open season on morons.

    5 REPLY
    • June, some of those ‘morons’ are mentally ill people who have lost touch with reality. Until you know first hand how some mental illnesses completely alter a person when in psychosis or mania etc then you won’t understand the complexities and the heart break for both sides..police and the families of those shot dead.

    • A mentally ill person who has lost touch with reality is even more dangerous and unpredictable. Sorry for all concerned.

    • Mentally ill they may be but if one of my loved ones were hurt by these so called ill people I would want to shoot too Moxt of it is illegal drug induced anyway.

  11. Who knows …mental health is a joke .get back hospital where they are away from hurting themselves or others ….not clinics .we are going to need it as drugs and alcohol are full on …no jobs for people ..no life on the dole …debt ..you bring back our factories etc for working classes but don’t blame police we weren’t there …media beat up …it could have been different outcome if police weren’t called .. My thoughts and thanks go to the police 100% ..

    5 REPLY
    • Yes Libby I pray that given a chance from depression by talking to doctors they know life is important that there is hope call a friend make little changes everyday walk in safe places with a friend get interested in helping in your area ..

    • I think you’ve nailed the problem. Police aren’t social workers and have to respond to all sorts of situations daily. Mental health has been swept off the agenda by governments and health authorities leaving police, paramedics, teachers and the public to deal with serious, often life threatening situations.

    • How many mentally ill under 35’s have been taken off the dsp? there is bound to be problems

    • Spot on Elaine. It’s so easy for people to blame the police but who do they call when they are at risk of being beaten up or robbed? These same brave men and women who put their lives on the line every time they respond to a call.

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