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The dangers of the police in Australia

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This is not the first time Australian police have been ambushed. Image used for representation/my font. qld.gov

On Monday night, two police officers, Constable Rachel McCrow, 29, and Constable Matthew Arnold, 26, were shot and killed, and two other officers were injured, after they were ambushed by offenders in a remote property in Wieambilla, Queensland’s Western Downs.

A civilian was also shot dead. Specialized police then arrived on the scene, where they shot and killed three suspects, two men and a woman.

Such events are relatively rare in Australia and shock us when they occur.
So how dangerous is policing in Australia?

Have we ever seen incidents similar to this?

Reports so far say police attended the address at the request of NSW Police to conduct a missing persons investigation, and were later ambushed as they walked up the driveway of the property. This is not the first time Australian police have been ambushed.

In 1988, two Victorian police officers were lured to Walsh Street, South Yarra, with reports of a stolen vehicle being located. Shortly after arriving, Constables Steven Tynan, 22, and Damian Eyre, 20, were shot dead in an execution-style attack.

In 1995, two NSW police officers were shot dead while responding to an incident in Crescent Head township, where the offender had gone into camouflage and was armed with a high-powered rifle.

The officers were armed with revolvers. The inquest into the deaths resulted in the police being issued semi-automatic pistols to better defend themselves against armed offenders.

In 2017, Queensland Police officer Brett Forte was fatally shot after he and other officers were ambushed by wanted suspect Ricky Maddison with an automatic weapon on a country road in the Lockyer Valley , west of Brisbane.

The information given to Forte and his colleagues about the risk posed by Maddison was the subject of coroner’s hearings.

How dangerous is policing in Australia?

A study of police deaths in Australia showed that 28 officers were killed in attacks between 1981 and 2007. Shootings, stabbings or assaults were the main causes of attack.

The study also showed that between 1981 and 2007, 22 of the police officers killed in attacks – or 79% – were killed by gunshots.

The Australian National Police Memorial lists police officers who have been killed on duty or have died on duty. Since 2010, five police officers have died as a result of the actions of armed offenders in Australia, including four with firearms and one with a knife.

Although the number of deaths is low, their impact on loved ones and colleagues is significant. It must be recognized that policing is an inherently dangerous and difficult profession.

In addition to fatal injuries, there are a significant number of non-fatal assaults inflicted on police. In New South Wales, for example, 2,694 assaults on police were reported in 2022.

How does Australia compare to other jurisdictions?

In the United States, some 224 police officers were killed as a result of attacks between 2018 and 2021. Over the same period in Australia, one police officer was killed by attack.

Longer-term data in Australia indicates a rate of one officer per year killed in attacks between 1981 and 2007.

Between 2010 and 2021, six police officers were killed in attacks in the United Kingdom: four were shot, one stabbed and another died in the explosion of a car bomb.

The higher rates in the United States can be attributed to a higher degree of gun ownership and a higher rate of violent crime involving firearms.

Where is the investigation going now?

This case will now be referred to the coroner for an inquest, where the focus will be on what happened and why. The inquest will examine the circumstances leading up to the death, police actions on the day and Queensland Police’s response to the shooting.

It will also include recommendations for any preventative changes or policies that might reduce the likelihood of death occurring in similar circumstances.

Information available to the officers present will also be reviewed, as well as any threat assessments made and the plan of approach adopted by the police to attend to the incident, both initially prior to the ambush and then when squads specialists were sent to witness the incident. violent scene.

The information made available to the police officers present will be of crucial importance.

But above all, the police and the wider community will have to mourn the senseless loss of those killed in this terrible incident. Those involved in the incident will be required to undergo a critical incident operational debrief.

Ongoing psychological first aid will also be required to support those affected. Ultimately, many will wonder why and how this could happen.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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