Working together to protect our future

The use of Part IV

There have been so many references as of late being made to the "culture" within the Northern Territory Police Force and how after several "cultural reviews" it has been found that there are "cultural issues" within several work areas within the NT police force, that I, along with most of the officers who I speak to have become completely numb to the use of the word "culture" and any refence to it now requires an immediate eye roll followed by just a touch of anger and frustration.

Every organisation goes through phases where they have a buzzword that is used to explain why they are doing the things they are doing and to try and promote what they would like to achieve. This is nothing new, however what other organisations tend to do is follow up the use of the buzzword with outcomes that are tangible and clearly visible to those being affected by the changes.

To date the only glaringly obvious outcomes and changes that have clearly and visibly been put in place because of the NT Police "cultural reviews" is that a very big stick is being waived around and many dedicated, hardworking, experienced NT Coppers are getting whacked with it. Now dont get me wrong, the Association does not condone or support behaviour that is against the code of conduct or in breach of any regulation, that is not where the issue appears to be lying. It is the way it is
being managed that is where the gripe is.

Yes, I am relatively new to the NT Police family so my view of the ways things are happening might be questioned by some&. But when I am hearing almost daily from long serving dedicated NT coppers that things have never been like this before and things have never been so bad I feel my opinion is valid and I know some of my sentiments if not all are being felt by a vast majority of our members.

The methodology that members feel is being adapted is one where shots are fired first then questions are asked later, and it is this approach that has left many officers wondering where the integrity in the force has gone. There appears to be a step that is desperately missing between an officer being accused of doing something wrong and them being issued with a section 79 notice. The absence of basic human resource management that is being displayed is a big part of the problem, but this is understandable due to the complete lack of training that gets provided to an officer before they step into a supervisory role. The "go to card" seems to be straight to Part IV, when in most instances had an officer been pulled aside and spoke to about some of the issues the matter could have been resolved effectively without having to put someone through the wringer and completely shatter their faith and confidence in the force.

I have seen firsthand so many members being subjected to Part IV in a long drawn out process only at the end of it all to be either returned to their workplace from where they had been immediately 14Bd out of when the allegations were made, side stepped into a different work area, or are still out on personal leave due to the stress of having to go through the "experience". The end result is that so many dedicated and hardworking officers have had their dedication and integrity questioned, their reputations ruined and their faith in the force has been tainted.

I have seen the complete devastation that a member goes through when being subjected to any action involving Part IV of the PAA.

The complete lack of obvious consideration being shown to our members when an alleged breach of discipline is served upon them is something that I still cannot get my head around.

Members have been left hanging and waiting for extended periods of time wondering what is going to happen next, the whole time questioning how or why the alleged breaches even got that far and this is nothing short of torture. The impact this has on both the officer, their family and friends is far reaching and hard to swallow.

There have been several members who are long serving career coppers dedicated to their job who are now left pondering how a force that they have given so much of their life to can treat them with complete disregard- the most common phrase I hear is "if they are going to give me a whackthen just do it, tell me what I did wrong- tell me what I need to do to improve and let me get on with my job".

Again, don't get me wrong, I want those who are investigating these alleged breaches of discipline to ensure they are getting it right, but what I don't get is why once a members response has been provided there is a need to drag the process out- surely once it has been deemed an allegation is worthy of such a harsh process the ducks should be lined up in a row prior to the notice even being served on a member and preparations should be in place to ensure that the next steps are ready to be taken without delay. The Commissioner himself has stressed the importance of only making decisions based on having strong- solid and tangible evidence in front of you. Decisions should be intelligence informed, evidence based, and values led.

It's the "not knowing what's going on, or what's going to happen next" that sends many of our members over the edge, and in some instances that edge is really, really hard to get back from. The NT is a relatively small force, word spreads quickly, and members who are left hanging and waiting for an outcome know that a vast majority of their fellow officers know about some part of the allegations. They find themselves being approached daily by co-workers who are willing to offer their opinion about whats going on and many report back saying they feel like they are constantly being watched and talked about. They start to second guess everything they are doing and have ever done throughout their career and wonder how things ever got to be that way in the first place - disillusioned is a word that sums the sentiment up, along with anger and frustration, and how do you come back unscathed from feeling that way? I dont know the answer because the fear is always going to be there that when you least expect it the big stick will appear again, and the truth is your fear is well founded.

With all of this in mind , Id like to try and end it on a positive note and say that the Association has been advised that the review of Part IV has apparently been progressing and that this may bring about some changes and reform to how this process is being managed, we shall wait with baited breath, and in the mean time we will keep stumbling through the growing number of Part IV processes that are currently in place and try and pick up the pieces at the end of it all best we can.