Police officers swear an oath to uphold and enforce the law, and many feel it is both hypocritical and damaging to the integrity of the force for officers to commit criminal offences during their period of service.
Many also believe that dismissing police who commit crimes while on the public payroll is a ‘no brainer’.
Police Not Sacked for Breaking the Law
South Australian MP Robert Brokenshire has raised concerns that a dozen police officers have been caught drink driving or drug driving in the state over the past four years, but none dismissed.
The officers were convicted for their offences, fined a total of $23,000 and disqualified from driving for an accumulative period of seven years – four of them later quit the force, but eight were not dismissed.
While SA police are “disappointed” by the conduct, Assistant Police Commissioner Bryan Fahy believes drink and drug driving do not necessarily warrant dismissal.
He points out that the Commissioner has power to fine, reprimand or dismiss officers if it is “deemed appropriate’’, but this is a discretionary decision.
A National Issue
There have been five recorded incidents in other states and territories where police have tested positive for drink driving over the past 6 months.
A Brisbane officer tested positive after being pulled over for roadside random breath testing on Boxing Day, and a Victorian officer blew a reading of 0.179 on 30 January – more than three times the legal limit.
In March, a NSW Police Officer who was driving an unmarked police vehicle also returned a blood alcohol reading of nearly three times the legal limit.
Drink and Drug Driving
As we are told by police time and again, drink and drug driving can significantly impair driving ability, and contribute to injuries and fatalities on our roads every year.
According to police statistics, South Australia has the highest incidence of drink driving in Australia per capita, followed in order by Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and New South Wales. Victoria has the lowest incidence per capita.
There are calls for police forces to adopt a ‘zero tolerance policy’ – whereby officers who are convicted of crimes lose their jobs, rather than receive warnings and paid suspensions.