NSW Police attacked as George Floyd violence rages
Young police constable Nicole Welsh was driving her patrol car through remote NSW when a rock was thrown at the vehicle, smashing the window and cutting her neck.
Constable Welsh's injury on Tuesday night added her name to the 2,500 NSW police officers injured in the line of duty every year - that's an officer wounded or hurt every four hours.
The attack on the young officer prompted police and government officials to call on the community to stand behind NSW police officers and not judge them by the failings of police in America.
Despite being injured on Tuesday, Constable Welsh, 22, was back on duty among the largely Aboriginal community in Boggabilla, an hour north east of Moree in New England, last night.
The rock was thrown as she and a colleague drove in search of a vehicle that had been the subject of an earlier pursuit. Police are still looking for the assailant.
Inspector Martin Burke from Moree said the incident was inspired by protests not only outside of Moree but outside of Australia.
"People latch on to bigger movements and feel that gives them the right to throw rocks at cops. It's just not on," he said.
"It is also particularly disappointing given all the work we have done with the community there to protect and inform them during the coronavirus pandemic."
Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said: "It is always distressing to see one of your officers injured in the line of duty.
"I think the real shame about this incident is that it was driven by something that happened in another country."
He said the events following George Floyd's death in Minneapolis bore no relation to the strong relationship forged between "the nation's first people and the NSW Police".
Mr Fuller said there had been a "notable" increase in anti-police sentiment since the death of Mr Floyd and a spate of riots and protests since May 25.
"We have certainly noticed an increase in negative comments, particularly on our social media pages," he said. "It is not justified."
Instead he said it was about a small group of activists "vandalising" what Mr Fuller said was a "gold standard" of democracy in the world today.
Aboriginal advocate Warren Mundine said protesters who protested in Sydney on Saturday, with one waving a placard saying "A good cop is a dead cop", were "poorly informed".
"The relationship between police and the Aboriginal people is a hell of a lot better than it ever was. To say there is a problem with the NSW police is absolute rubbish," he said.
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics show that there are around 2500 attacks on police officers every year - nearly 50 a week, or seven a day which equates to an officer being attacked somewhere in NSW every four hours.
In March 2020 there were 211 assaults on police bringing the total attacks on police officers in the last months to 2495, a 1.5 per cent increase on the previous 12 months of 2458 assaults.
In addition, since the COVID-19 crisis began, there have been 90 incidents of people spitting or coughing on police officers.
Police Minister David Elliott said: "I don't think the community fully appreciates the life of the police officer in 2020. They have to be experts in everything from counter terrorism to pandemic management and from fraud to child abuse.
"Very few other careers have the possibility that when you go to work in the morning you may not be coming home safe and sound in the evening," he said. "It is about time the people of NSW got behind our police officers given the challenging nature of their jobs."
Mr Elliott personally calls every officer injured in the line of duty. He said Constable Welsh's injury was another example of the risk NSW police officers ran every day.
"This is another example of the kind of risks officers face every day in their line of work. It is telling that last night she returned to the same streets where she was injured to fulfil her oath of office to protect the very people who sought to do her harm."
But he added: "I am extremely concerned that people are justifying attacks and vilification of NSW Police officers on the behaviour of officers in North America.
"The reality is that we have an excellent relationship between police and the community which was reaffirmed by the record number of indigenous cadets graduating from the NSW Police Academy this year," he said.
Tony King, President of the NSW Police Association said: "People easily lose sight of the thousands of positive interactions that the police have with the public, and we know that they have wide community support across New South Wales.
"So far this year those officers - who go about their work professionally and without complaint - have been on the frontline of bushfires, floods and the COVID pandemic, as well as carrying the load of day to day policing duties and crime prevention.
"The dangers they face see far too many officers subjected to injuries when they are physically attacked - as often as 50 times a week according to objective official data," he said.
Originally published as NSW Police attacked as George Floyd violence rages