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Veteran police officer fears backlash

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by Jeffco, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. From Todays HS at someone there is willing to speak out

    A VETERAN police officer has broken ranks to say a tough new speed policy will turn people against the force.
    Sergeant Phil Wild, who has been with Victoria Police for 42 years, said the push to book people for low-level speeding offences was a bad move.
    “The consequences of this flawed and unfair policy will be felt by the mostly law-abiding members of the motoring public, the mums and dads who are struggling to make ends meet,” he said.
    “My junior members, the constables and senior constables at the front line of policing will also suffer when the respect and confidence of the public dries up.”
    He said there was near-unanimous community opposition to the policy and he could not argue with widespread opinion that it was about revenue raising.
    Sgt Wild said vehicle speedometers were not calibrated to be 100 per cent accurate and a driver drifting over the limit by a few kilometres an hour did not represent a significant safety threat.
    “Policing in this way would have the effect of turning the public away from the police and the ramifications of that would be horrendous for all,” he said.
    “I took an oath to serve the people of Victoria. Nowhere in that oath did it say that I had the right to persecute the public or to encourage my junior members to do so.”
    Sgt Wild said he accepted that he ran the risk of “consequences” for going public.
    Victoria Police recently announced officers had been instructed to start fining more motorists for low-level speeding offences.
    Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill said at the time that 15 deaths and 300 injuries could be prevented each year if drivers cut their average speed by 1km/h.
    Mr Hill wanted to make low-level speeding as socially unacceptable as drink-driving.
    “Research indicates that 20 per cent of our fatalities involve low level speeding,” he said.
    He said police officers had discretion about when to apply the law but denied they had been instructed to fine drivers going 1 or 2km/h over the limit.
    “A commonsense approach has always been encouraged,” he said.
    “While we are disappointed at the comments made by the serving police officer, Victoria Police is committed to improving the safety of our roads for all members of the community.”


    There is an examination that all Victorian Police members must pass.
    It is not an exam to gain entry to the Force or to obtain a promotion.
    We do not simply sit the examination, pass it and move on.
    We must pass this examination on most days of our careers and often several times a day.
    The examination is known as the S.E.L.F. test, and it works like this …
    Before taking action or making a decision to take an action, we must ask ourselves the following (in brief):
    S — Scrutiny Will my decision withstand public scrutiny by the community?
    E — Ethical Is my decision ethical?
    L — Lawful Is my decision lawful?
    F — Fair Is my decision fair on the community, my colleagues and others?
    If the answer to any one of these questions is “no”, then I am required to reconsider my decision and take a different course.
    My superiors tell me I must, the organisational values of the force tell me I must, my own conscience tells me I must.
    On the 20th of January this year, Road Policing Command forwarded an instruction to members to the effect that we (Victoria Police) are to commence writing penalty notices for low-level speeding offences.
    The instruction goes on to say that all speed limits should be strictly enforced (my emphasis).
    This means that the motoring public can now expect to receive a penalty notice for travelling at perhaps 1, 2, or 3km/h above the limit (The ‘wipe off five’ ads having conditioned us accordingly).
    In delivering this instruction, I am of the view that certain of our leaders have failed the S.E.L.F test themselves — not just on one or two of the points, but on all four!
    (a) The instruction does not withstand public scrutiny:
    I refer to pg40 of the Herald Sun of the 24th January where 18 of the 20 letters to the editor on that date provide totally negative feedback (the remaining two were unrelated). Radio talkback callers have been almost unanimous in their condemnation of the policy.
    (b) The instruction is not ethical:
    The reasons given for the implementation of this program are in my view, demonstrably wrong. Some of the conclusions reached as a result of “research” are questionable and cannot be properly measured.
    For example, it is claimed that if every driver on our roads were to lower their average speed by 1km/h, 15 lives would be saved every year.
    If the reasons given are wrong, then there must be another reason. The greater portion of the community appear to believe that the reason is revenue raising and I cannot disagree with that.For a government department such as Victoria Police to be used in such a way is unethical.
    (c) The instruction is of questionable legality:
    Much of our legislation, particularly the less serious summary offences were never intended to be policed to an absolute degree or at all times. There are many instances where police “turn a blind eye” to offences occurring in our immediate presence because of their trivial nature or because the circumstances in which they occur make rigid policing inappropriate.
    If this were not the case we would create a huge backlog in the courts as the majority of people “booked” would opt to take the matter before a magistrate who would, in most if not all cases, dismiss the charges as “trifling”.
    Policing in this way would have the effect of turning the public away from the police and the ramifications of that would be horrendous for all.
    (d) The instruction is unfair:
    Vehicle speedometers, even in brand-new vehicles, are not calibrated to be 100 per cent accurate. There have also been instances where speed measuring devices used by enforcement agencies have been shown to be inaccurate. Any driver, even the most prudent, can find his vehicle speed to have increased without his being aware of it simply by virtue of him coming to a slight dip in the road.
    He will correct his speed immediately upon becoming aware of the fact but may well have been photographed or clocked in that brief moment. That small increase in speed on a straight stretch of road over such a short period does not represent any significant threat to road safety. That, in my view is an irrefutable fact.
    When I joined Victoria Police in 1972 I took an oath to serve the people of Victoria. Nowhere in that oath did it say that I had the right to persecute the public or to encourage my junior members to do so.
    I have written to Road Policing Command and expressed my concerns to them. In a series of emails and a face-to-face meeting with the Assistant Commissioner, I have outlined my views on the likely consequences of their policy and urged them to reconsider their position.
    I have also asked for their advice on what I can do about this matter. They have offered no advice other than to try to convince me that their actions are appropriate.
    On January 29th I wrote, and hand delivered, to the Office of the Chief Commissioner (Ken Lay) a detailed letter in regard to this issue.
    I asked that he advise me as to what avenues are open to me, as I do not wish to retire at some time in the future knowing that I could have done something further to ward off a lessening of the community’s respect and confidence in its police.
    The Chief Commissioner did not reply.
    The consequences of this flawed and unfair policy will be felt by the mostly law-abiding members of the motoring public, the mums and dads who are struggling to make ends meet whilst feeding and educating their children and wondering whether they will still have a job when their employment contract expires in the next few months.
    They are not, however, the only ones who will suffer. My junior members, the constables and senior constables at the frontline of policing will also suffer when the respect and confidence of the public dries up.
    As Chief Commissioner Lay has stated often enough, we (the police) need to have the public “on side”.
    Otherwise, a very difficult job will perhaps become nigh on impossible.
    There is no doubt that compliance with this instruction will have the affect of swelling the government coffers and that in turn may enhance the promotional prospects of the programs authors and/or those who champion it.
    The long-term effects however will be sorely felt by the general public and our members alike.
    The Victoria Police manual, under the section covering professional standards and conduct, lists the organisational values of the Force. Under the subheading ‘Integrity’ the manual advises us that we are, among other things:
    (i) required to act with honesty, respecting the right of fair process for all;
    (ii) demonstrate moral strength and courage; and,
    (iii) behave with honour and impartiality.
    In the absence of any meaningful instruction or advice from the hierarchy of my department, I see no other avenue open to me but to voice my concerns via this public forum.
    Phil Wild, Sergeant 17312

    • Agree Agree x 4
  2. Unfortunately he will cop a backlash from his superiors
  3. Says it all, eg MUARC, TAC etc.
  4. Good on Sergeant Phil Wild for voicing what most of us motoring public are thinking, hopefully the force is open enough to let him have his views without severe consequences but I doubt it.
  5. he must be about to retire to be prepared to so thoroughly and damningly burn his bridges in this way, but good on him anyway
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1

  6. I would take a guess that more than 20% of all driving involves low level speeding.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  7. I'd suggest that the figures they rely on for their 20% include inappropriate speed under the limit.... Since they rely on it every other time they quote speeding stats
  8. Which is a convenient use of statistics - just the same as saying 97% of fatalities were wearing socks - ergo if we ban socks it will reduce fatalities by 97%

    The statistic that is relevant is how many of those fatalities were either caused by, or had the consequences changed by low level speeding, ie: if they had been doing the speed limit the vehicle wouldn't have crashed, or the fatality would not have occurred.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  9. Jesus is it April 1 already
  10. Sadly he is not the first police officer to say this or similar. I say sadly because the government have failed to listen to any of them. Rather, they prefer to believe the form that police have to fill out. A form, I am reliably informed, only just stops short of forcing the investigating officer to tick "Speed" as a cause of the accident.
  11. Great of him to come out and speak up for everyone. What really pisses me off is their statistics, the 15 lives for every 1km/h lower speed. There are just so so many variables in driving that the accuracy of such a claim can never truly be verified. Each and every drive you do is inherently different and statistics unless done for every road, condition time of day and area cannot be accurate in that regard. IMO
  12. too late she cried. latest version of the article starts

    A VETERAN police officer who broke ranks to say a tough new speed policy will turn people against the force, now faces an internal inquiry, as the state’s top traffic cop denied any harsh crackdown had been ordered.
  13. Which reminds me of the old political saying 'Never believe anything until it's been officially denied'
  14. It's too bad he is retiring soon. And I can see why he never made it too the top, he has a realistic view of the world. If he get's punished for speaking out, I hope the Commissioner gets fired in the backlash.
  15. I know it's my own fault for watching 7 News - but they had Bruce Corben from the Monash University Centre for We'll Say Anything You Want if You Pay Us recommending we reduce speed limits further.

    What the hell kind of drugs are they on?
  16. The crazy people are the ones who don't actually question if they are crazy.
  17. and with the road toll currently sitting at 12 more than the previous year the pollies & police will go crazy with the lower speed limits theory
  18. There is a reason members of police do not ordinarily speak out: Police Regulation Act 1958.

    Breaches of discipline

    (1) A member of the force commits a breach of discipline if he or she—
    (a) contravenes a provision of this Act or the regulations; or
    (b) fails to comply with a standing order or instruction of the Chief Commissioner; or
    (c) engages in conduct that is likely to bring the force into disrepute or diminish public confidence in it; or
    (d) fails to comply with a lawful instruction given by the Chief Commissioner, a member of or above the rank of senior sergeant or a person having the authority to give the instruction; or
    (e) is guilty of disgraceful or improper conduct (whether in his or her official capacity or otherwise);
    (f) is negligent or careless in the discharge of his or her duty; or
    (g) without the approval of the Chief Commissioner—
    (i) applies for or holds a licence or permit to conduct any trade, business or profession; or
    (ii) conducts any trade, business or profession; or
    (iii) accepts any other employment; or​
    (h) acts in a manner prejudicial to the good order or discipline of the force; or

    If the Chief Commissioner was to be dismissed whenever the PA disagreed with a decision, the appointment would never last 5 years as permitted under section (4).

    PM Transcript - VSC rules against sacking of two officers

  19. So Robert Hill was misquoted by the Hun? So the internal directive never existed? WTF?
  20. My immediate thoughts exactly, Wolve. WTF