A recent story published by major news outlets highlights the frustration of Police officers in the QPS.
The QPS is an organisation stuck in a web of red tape, consisting of but not limited to, ridiculous amounts of statistical gathering, unprecedented amounts of internal scrutiny and surveillance of officers and all from a desire to portray itself as a paragon of modern day policing. What this Senior Sergeant talks about is 100% correct. Queensland Police Officers have never had such low morale and the reasons come right from the top, beginning with Governments and filtered down with very little resistance from upper management, to middle management, right down to the officers on the front line. There’s so much I could talk about that I don’t know where to start. In my view the QPS has shifted way too far toward ass covering and self promotion that it is placing enormous pressures on those on the front lines who are trying to get things done. Sometimes you are more worried about the potential ass kicking you would get from making an honest mistake, that you second guess yourself so much that you either end up not doing what you should be doing and as an aside to that, in certain situations your indecisiveness places you in potential personal danger of injury or even death. The police used to be the ‘pointy end’ of the stick, now the police are a pointy stick with a rubber tip at the end of it. The QPS used to also have Officers in Charge of Stations who had balls, and stood up for their staff. With the stipulation that I am generalising here, these days they are just puppets of higher levels of management.
Let’s be honest, the QPS has a computer system that is antiquated and not user friendly. It is more a system for statistical gathering than a system that allows officers to efficiently do their jobs. This goes hand in hand with the ridiculous amounts of paperwork associated with even the simplest and most straight forward matters. To a large degree this is a result of statistical gathering, organisational ass covering, and increasing judicial requirements. Soon police will need law degrees just to be able to put a document together without getting criticism. Every area of policing is also getting broader by the minute. There’s information overload coming from every direction, but if you dare not know every guideline and procedure, then get ready to get your ass rimmed. I would humbly suggest that not many police have photographic memories. The courts aren’t helpful either. You may say one wrong word to an offender in a stressful situation from a predetermined spiel and not only does your case get thrown out but you then roasted by the boss. When you are involved in a so called use of force incident, guess what the organisation is first more interested in? It’s definitely not whether you are o.k. They want to know about everything that happened first, so they can, not only cover their ass, but also determine what wrongs you’ve committed. Let’s be honest, that is their primary focus, irrespective of their denials of this. Your well being is only a secondary consideration.
There are now increasing numbers of body cameras and cameras in cars in use. Sure they are definitely effective evidence gathering tools, but the organisation also loves them as they’re great for scrutinising of the actions of officers, no matter how small or trivial those actions may be. They are also very effective tools for tracking every single thing officers do throughout their shift, from tracking every location you are at, to what you say in the cars. Sure there needs to be a certain level of ‘surveillance’ for what officers do, but who wants to work under surveillance every second of their shift? We all need private time talking about personal things, whether they be serious or in jest, or to stop somewhere for a few minutes to get a mental break. It’s enough to make you feel like a criminal yourself and in some instances knowing that your every move and every word is being scrutinized to the max can make you hesitate to do your job in certain situations. In policing, hesitation can result in catastrophe not just for the officer but for others. I don’t believe constant surveillance is widespread at the moment, however it’s definitely heading in that direction.
One of the major issues creating low morale, is the ever increasing focus on individual performance. Policing used to be about getting things done as a team. Sure personal achievements were recognised, but the main desired outcome was that the job got done and nobody got hurt.
These days there is huge pressure to perform to predetermined expectations. There are unwritten requirements on how many ‘pinches’ and tickets are expected per month. There are frequent comparisons with the personal performance of others and if you dare suggest that you are more like a team player or that you are more community oriented, you quickly get shut down and told to be more selfish as your pinches and tickets will be what your performance as a police officer will be measured against. Your professionalism, character, helpfulness with your colleagues and the way you interact with members of the community are just secondary considerations. No wonder the public sometimes complain about unfair police actions as there are too many of them getting shitty tickets, such as parking in the wrong parking spot at a train station, because those otherwise great officers, have to fulfill unwritten quotas. Management also have warped expectations. When it comes to drink driving for example, a lot of which has to do with funding and therefore also an issue related to governments, management would rather see officers do 1000 breath tests with no positive results than officers do 10 breath tests with 5 positive results. Yes, they like the positive stats and will use it to show how effective their officers are, but when it comes down to it, the number of breath tests as opposed to the number of positive results, is more important.
I don’t even want to start with pursuits. It’s pretty obvious to most people that the criminals are just laughing at police. It’s of course a tragedy if someone gets injured or killed as a result of a pursuit, but I would dare say that there is far greater societal damage done by not allowing pursuits generally. Look I could go on and on about many other things, but I think we all get the idea. Too much paperwork, unrealistic expectations, too much red tape, too much statistical gathering, excessive scrutiny, not enough support and warped priorities to name a few. As for the comments by the Premier that no one has been telling her about these things, well I’ll tell you why. They have themselves and their families to feed and don’t want the dramas that speaking up would result in.
It’s funny too, how many of those in management dictating to modern day officers how perfect they need to be are the same ones, whom in “their time’ were the ones driving home pissed, dealing police justice to certain offenders and generally participating in dodgy practices, as discovered through the Fitzgerald Enquiry. Very ironic I think.
NOTE OF CAUTION: IF YOU ARE A SERVING MEMBER OF THE QUEENSLAND POLICE SERVICE PLEASE BE CAREFUL OF WHAT YOU COMMENT ON. FREEDOM OF SPEECH DOESN’T SEEM TO APPLY TO SOME ORGANISATIONS. THE QPS MAY OR MAY NOT BE ONE OF THOSE.