SAFER COMMUNITIES: NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione at Lismore Police Station.
SAFER COMMUNITIES: NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione at Lismore Police Station.

It won't happen here

THE fatal shooting of a teenage boy in inner Melbourne could not happen in Lismore, NSW Commissioner of Police, Andrew Scipione, said yesterday.

Commissioner Scipione, who was in Lismore to officially open the new $13.9 million state-of-the-art police station, declined to comment on the specifics of the Victorian incident.

However, he said a recent roll-out of more than 250 Taser stun guns to police stations state-wide was part of a plan to arm police with appropriate weapons in the fight against modern street crime.

But the State Opposition says the numbers are not enough, calling for all frontline patrol cars to be installed with the equipment.

The calls come after the NSW Ombudsman recently recommended a two-year moratorium on the roll-out of Taser stun guns to all general duties police, saying operating procedures were ‘inadequate’ and should be reviewed.

The response comes in the wake of a fatal shooting of a 15-year-old boy in inner north Melbourne on Thursday night, after the victim entered a K-Mart and demanded knives. Police tried to pacify the boy but in the end he was fatally shot in the chest as he approached and allegedly threatened officers with two knives in the Melbourne suburb of Northcote.

Police said they fired warning shots and used two hits of capsicum spray to subdue the boy, with no apparent effect. The Victorian police union is calling for officers to be armed with Tasers.

Lismore has two of the $2000, 1200 volt stun guns based at the new police station, and one is assigned to a mobile supervisor on every shift.

While Tasers have been in NSW for five years, they have only been assigned to specialist areas of policing. By the end of this financial year 1500 officers will have undergone extensive training, both practical and theoretical, to become qualified Taser users.

Commissioner Scipione said another fundamental difference between Victorian police and their NSW counterparts was the type of weapon all officers carried. In Victoria police use a six-shot revolver, which takes time to re-load. In NSW Glock pistols are assigned with up to 16 bullets in each quick re-load cartridge.

Glocks were assigned after the 1995 shooting of police officers Robert Spears and Peter Addison at Crescent Head.

“There is no better service weapon for front-line police,” he said. “I can’t afford for my officers to be under-armed if they come under attack,” he said.

“Use of any weapon is a last resort option, and to monitor police use of the new Tasers, all NSW Police stun guns are fitted with video and audio recording devices.

NSW Police are the only ones in Australia to use this recording technology and only one of three or four forces worldwide.

“Every time a Taser is taken out of its holster and the safety switched off, recording begins. Police policy is that every recorded incident is downloaded to the network and viewed by an Assistant Commissioner of Police, in our case Lee Shearer, Commander Northern Region.”

Commissioner Scipione said the recordings guaranteed appropriate Taser use on the public, and protected police using the stun gun correctly from malicious complaints.

— With AAP


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