Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Crime and Police Killings

Having done research and writing on the issue of crime in South Africa, it has been really quite something to see the outpouring of emotion and support in response to the recent murder of a police officer in Queensland.
Senior Constable Damian Leeding died in hospital after being shot in the face when he responded to an armed robbery on the Gold Coast.
In South Africa the killing of police members is an all too often occurrence. An article on the website from just last month states that 32 police officers have been killed there since January. "Other statistics show that about 109 police officers were killed between 2008 and 2009 while 110 were killed between 2009 and 2010."
I remember doing an interview some years ago with the wife of a policeman who was killed when he tried to stop an armed robbery. She had some support from his colleagues, but her husband's death was regarded in many ways as just another statistic.
How different is the situation here in Queensland where the last police officer to be shot dead on the job was four years ago. There has been so much discussion on radio and television about the murder. On the day of the funeral I heard an interview with the police commissioner, whose voice was breaking while he was talking to the reporter. The funeral was held at the Gold Coast Convention Centre -- the only venue large enough to hold the number of people expected to attend -- and attended by about 4000 uniformed officers. Every unit within the police from all over Australia was represented at the funeral, and the support was even from further afield with representatives from the New Zealand Police, the FBI and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police also attending.
There was a funeral procession down the Gold Coast Highway, which included mounted police, a police band and a guard of honour.
And then there was the response from members of the public. A fish and chip shop owner closed her restaurant for the day to attend the funeral and other people took a day off work to attend the funeral to show their support for the police. There was also a funeral service held for police members and members of the public in a few other cities around Queensland.
The local mayor announced that a park will be renamed in the policeman's honour or a memorial built in his memory as a "constant reminder of his heroism and also, of the courage displayed by all our police officers on a daily basis as they go about their tasks and responsibilities". The police union established a remembrance fund that had raised more than $120,000 within a week.
Incidentally, the armed robbery that Damian Leeding was responding to was one of a spate that's occurred on the Gold Coast recently. And the police have established a special task force to address the violent crime. I've tended to think that an "armed robbery" by definition involved a firearm (they generally seemed to in South Africa), but here the robbers are quite regularly armed with items such as knives, syringes and screwdrivers. In fact, the police mentioned in one interview that about 20% of the armed robberies involve firearms.


Carol said...

Hi, I found your blog via South African Expats. I'm finding it quite interesting reading your views of Australia and Brisbane as we plan to move to Brisbane/Gold Coast somewhere in the not to distant future.. I'm a Kiwi living in Auckland - arrived here from South Africa in 2003. Love New Zealand with the exception of the weather hence my desire to move to Aus. Do you mind if I ask what suburb/area you live in in Brisbane - I've been checking the suburbs out on the internet but it's difficult to decide on an area not having lived there. Thanks and regard. Carol

Cheryl Goodenough said...

Hi Carol,
Thanks for your comment. We live in Redland Bay, which is south of Cleveland and north from the Gold Coast. It's south east from Brisbane CBD. A lot probably depends on where you or your partner will be working, how long you're happy to spend commuting, and the kind of area that you want to live in.
I also found it really difficult to look at things on the internet, and it was only really once we moved here that we decided in what area we wanted to settle. And although we're know set on this area, I'm not sure that we'll buy in this suburb. It really does take time.
Feel free to email me cherylgoodenough (at) if you've got more questions.