Police are suffering, inquest hears
POLICE officers are afraid to say they need help after being involved in a shooting death, for fear of being labelled weak, a union president has told an inquest.
Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said the organisation's culture needed to change in the way it dealt with the well-being of officers who had been involved in a line-of-duty shooting.
State Coroner Terry Ryan is conducting an inquest in the wake of five police shootings in less than a year.
Between August 2013 and November 2014, in separate incidents, officers from Queensland Police Service acting in the course of their duties, shot and killed five men.
Mr Ryan is considering what recommendations, if any, will prevent these sorts of incidents occurring in such circumstances again.
The inquest, which continues until Thursday next week, will look at the circumstances around two shootings on the Sunshine Coast, two in Brisbane and one on the Gold Coast.
On Tuesday, Mr Leavers spoke about the impact of so-called "critical incidents" on police.
He said those who had been involved in such incidents were often left suffering without adequate support from the service, for fear of how it would be perceived.
"I'll be honest. I tell people 'if you need help, don't be outward, go and get private assistance' because of the way the organisation works," he said.
"I think people do hurt and they hurt for a long, long time, but they're certainly not outward in doing it."
Mr Leavers was reflecting on recommendations to track the impact of critical incidents on police over their entire policing career.
He said an external organisation should conduct it and should look at what happens outside of their policing career because often it did lead to family dysfunction.
Some police who have left the organisation as a result of critical incidents, they never get over it in any way, shape or form.
"They've got to live with it for the rest of their lives because they've never got treatment for it," Mr Leavers said.
He said while the organisation was changing, a perception remained that those who sought help were weak, "that you can't cut it and it's held against you for promotion and transfer forever and a day".
Mr Leavers said he had examples in recent times of people who had sought help and it had been used against them.
He also said when it came to response to critical incidents, the size of the state was an issue.
He said remoteness of postings could interfere in dealing with critical incidents, noting suggestions to mandate two-hour gun residue testing after any incident.
Mr Leavers said this would be logistically impossible in some circumstances, despite being beneficial in interpreting the critical incident.
- ARM NEWSDESK
POLICE SHOOTING DEATHS
Laval Donovan Zimmer: Age 33. He grew up in Mackay, Kingaroy and Brisbane and had a history of paranoid schizophrenia. He was killed after running at police with a knife at his home in Redcliffe. They had attended his home after he made numerous nuisance calls to 000 and PoliceLink at Redcliffe and Maroochydore which became increasingly aggressive.
Anthony William Young: Age 42. Lived with his older brother, his brother's partner and their 12-year-old daughter. Brandished a machete at police when they attended his home at Yandina-Coolum Drive, after numerous reports of a disturbance at his home on August 21, 2013. Was told to "drop the knife" three times before he was shot. Police found two bodies inside the home and concluded Young had murdered his brother and partner before his death.
Edward Wayne Logan: Age 51. He was visiting his son Thomas Logan at Outlook Drive, Tewantin. A fight with his son escalated into a domestic dispute in which he smashed up cars, windows and garage doors. He was killed when police attended and he lunged at them with a splayed metal letterbox.
Shaun Basil Kumeroa: Age 42. Was killed after a four-hour siege at Inala. He allegedly had been avoiding police for a number days after assaulting his former partner, who he was involved in a custody dispute with. He brandished a replica gun at police, which they believed to be real.
Troy Martin Foster: Age 32. Police shot him in Southport after he held a knife to his mother's throat on November 24, 2014. He suffered from mental health issues and had consumed drugs and alcohol. His mother alleged problem with police began at age 11 after an alleged police assault at Tweed Heads.