Kids and crime: the beginning of winning


The good cop – bad cop routine has been part of law enforcement since Eve stole the apple. Now it’s set to take on the entrenched juvenile delinquency of Alice Springs.

Strike Force Viper is definitely the bad cop, judging by frequent police media releases about their use “tyre deflation devices” (remote control model pictured above), car chases and drones surveillance since October 13.

And now enter Operation Lunar, cops teaming up with government departments, NGOs and angels in heaven to entice the arch baddies from the social media pages to swap sides for “a normalised structure of being at home, go to bed over night, go to school, have their leisure activities and sports over the weekend … becoming positive contributors to society, that would be a long term goal. There is obviously a bit of a way ahead for us,” as new police Commander Craig Laidler (at right) puts it.

He looks into the future with assertiveness and a healthy dose of self-confidence.

Asked what progress the Southern Command has achieved lately, he answers: “They’ve got me for one.”

The Viper unit is not distracted by other duties, exclusively focussed on property crime.

“But you can’t arrest your way out of these problems and that’s where Operation Lunar comes into it. That’s the real difference.

“It’s a co-located model – police, Department of Territory Families, Housing and Communities, Department of Health, Department of Education, who also work with NGOs, providing the intervention which the at-risk youths require to shift them away from offending,” says CMR Laidler.

Tens of thousands of words have been written or spoken in Alice Springs about what needs to be done with out-of-control kids on the street.

A 24/7 drop-in centre is the current consensus on what has been the missing link. We now have one, instigated by Families Minister Kate Worden, at corner Wills Terrace and Stuart Highway.

Now the debate has turned to the following key issue: Should that facility have an open-door, with the kids able to come and go as they please?

What if kids start to regard the drop-in centre as a convenient place between plundering forays? The present public view seems to be: Let’s give the current open door policy a chance to work.

NEWS: Should the 24/7 facility have beds?

LAIDLER: I don’t think that’s a call for me to make. There is crisis accommodation available for youths.

NEWS: What happens when a young person leaves the premises in the wee hours? Are police notified? What do they do?

LAIDLER: It depends on the circumstances, who the young person is, on the time, their reasoning for leaving. Are they collected in a vehicle to be taken home? We have a duty of care. We need to find a safe location with a responsible adult. If that is not possible we would transfer that custody to Territory Families.

NEWS: At Logan, near Brisbane, police partner with social workers on their rounds (report by JULIUS DENNIS).

VIDEO: Norton Peters, from Yuendumu, in town last weekend.

LAIDLER: I am familiar with Logan. I think we’re already doing very similar things at the moment and to some extent we might be a little bit in front. They seem to be doing a great job.

NEWS: Police have spoken out against a youth curfew. Why?

LAIDLER: I don’t believe it’s the solution. That lies with what we’re doing at the moment, with engagement, positive intervention, a number of agencies all contributing.

NEWS: Leaving politics aside for the moment, how many fewer officers could you get by with if a youth curfew were introduced, if there were no kids in the street after dark?

LAIDLER: I think that’s an over simplistic view, that the curfew would be the silver bullet. A curfew would simply put another law in place. It’s not changing the behaviour of the youths. Just having another rule in place doesn’t change their behaviour. We still would have youths and behaviour to deal with.

NEWS: The Southern Command, judging by establishment numbers, has three times as many police officers per head of population when compared to the national average. How come, with all those police, there are entrenched problems – youth crime at the top – that we can’t get a handle on?

LAIDLER: I don’t think we have youth problems that we can’t get a handle on. We are seeing a lot of these problems with positive outcomes already.

NEWS: What do you think about the assertion that police don’t reduce crime. Society does.

LAIDLER: Absolutely, society makes a difference. That’s why I said before we can’t arrest our way out of these problems. Police are part of the picture but absolutely, society sets the standard. It takes a contribution of the entire community to make a difference, working in partnership.

NEWS: There is an ongoing debate about what illegal incarceration means. I understand it means taking someone to a place and stopping him or her from leaving, although they have not committed a crime and nor are they suspected of one. Apparently those detained in such a way can take legal action. Some people believe this is even interfering in the relationship of parents with their children. How does the police deal with these issues?

LAIDLER: Arrest for us is the last resort. There are a number of options until we get to that point. What do we do with the small percentage of youths with ongoing unacceptable behaviour? [At times] police must go through the justice system and through arrests. That’s not a new thing. We don’t focus on the youth hub for them to be kept against their will. There are times, at the moment, when we have to take youths into custody, and that’s as per legislation.

LAIDLER: If we locate and identify a youth to be at risk then we have a duty of care to take them into our custody until we can have them with a responsible, appropriate adult, or into the care of Territory Families. That already occurs. We don’t need the youth hub for that. If we consider them to be at an unacceptable risk we can take them into custody, under the Care and Protection of Children Act. The welfare of the child is a priority for us.

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Cairns Aquarium accused of misusing coronavirus funding, referred to Crime and Corruption Commission by State Government

The State Government has referred the Cairns Aquarium in Far North Queensland to the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) over allegations it misused coronavirus support funding.

The aquarium operators were informed yesterday by the Department of State Development that a $3.5 million State Government Industry Support Package grant they had received would be terminated.

A letter to the aquarium from the department obtained by the ABC alleged the money was used to make payments to related entities, donate to a political party, and purchase a new vehicle.

The Cairns Aquarium denied it misused the funds and said the purchases were made with their own operating costs.

The State Government said the financial assistance should be used to cover a shortfall of funds for the aquarium to “meet its reasonable costs of operating and maintaining essential facilities and caring for animals, and due to extraordinary events that prevented businesses operating as normal, or at all, due to COVID-19 restrictions.”

The Cairns Aquarium had so far received about $1 million out of the total $3.5 million grant.

Aquarium CEO Daniel Leipnik said he was taken aback by the decision, and that the aquarium had transparent accounting.

“One of the important things is the grant that we received was to cover operating costs, and the items that we have purchased have been purchased from the revenues that we’ve received from ticketing sales.

Two men in white hard hats and workers bibs hold red levers in an underground area with grey pipes.
Cairns Aquarium CEO Daniel Leipnik, right, denies the allegations made by the Queensland Government.(Cairns Aquarium)

“We reopened the business on the 27th of June and there has been a decent amount of sales … but we’ve used our discretion and purchased things that we feel are important for the business and for the region, and we’ve used that with our own operating costs.

“Where the state seems to have taken issue is they asked us to provide all of our costs through the business and we’ve provided that, and I believe there is some issue taken where they feel that it was their money used for these operating items, but in fact it wasn’t.

Donation disclosures from the Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) showed the Cairns Aquarium and Research Centre made a $10,000 donation to the Queensland Labor Party on August 8, 2020.

Mr Leipnik said the grant funds were not used for the political donation made by the Cairns Aquarium.  

Fish in large tank looking at hand drawn pictures
The Cairns Aquarium, opened in 2017, has 16,000 specimens in 71 major exhibits.(ABC Far North: Brendan Mounter)

“The aquarium’s actually been providing political donations, and one’s we consider to be quite small, to both sides of politics for several years now,” he said.

“We find that’s a very important aspect to arm these candidates or MPs with support from the tourism industry so they go in to bat for the tourism industry both in Brisbane and in Canberra.

“And again, we’ve utilised our own revenues to make those donations.

“We’re so disappointed with this letter, with these allegations, with this cancellation because we’ve worked so hard to create an amazing attraction.

“We work tirelessly all throughout the work to look after visitors to Cairns to create jobs for 50 staff.

In a statement, Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Steven Miles said the State Development Department had referred the matter to the CCC for investigation.

He said the the Industry Support Package was established to support businesses and help them stay afloat during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have a responsibility to taxpayers to ensure these grants are used appropriately to help Queensland’s economy recover,” Mr Miles said.

“The state’s decision to withdraw this grant has not been taken lightly but is the result of strict checks to ensure grant funds are not misused.

Headshot of smiling Steven Miles
Deputy Premier Steven Miles says the Queensland Government’s decision to withdraw the funds came after strict checks.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

“I can confirm Queensland Labor is in the process of refunding their donation.

ECQ records also showed Mr Leipnik made a personal $2,000 donation to the Queensland LNP on June 6, 2020.

However, that donation was not referred to in the letter from the Department and is not part of the allegations.

LNP leader David Crisafulli said he had not seen the details but was “happy to look into it”.

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NT Police confirm property crime spike in Darwin’s rural area, urge residents to share information

Cheryl Vries used to feel so safe in her rural Darwin home, she’d leave the keys in her car’s ignition. Now, she locks every door.

She was one of roughly 300 residents who attended a meeting in Bees Creek on Saturday morning, following a spate of petty crime in the area.

Northern Territory Police confirmed there had been a spike in property crime in the rural area since mid-September, with 34 incidents reported in the past 12 weeks.

But many more questions were raised about why police had not made an arrest.

Ms Vries said she had lived in the rural area for 38 years and frustrations were boiling over.

About 300 people attended the meeting in Bees Creek on Saturday morning, questioning what was being done to curb the spike in property-related crime.(ABC News: Sowaibah Hanife)

‘I would just like to feel safe’

Jenny, who didn’t want to provide her last name, was at the meeting and said while she hadn’t experienced a break in, the stories she’d heard were traumatising.

“I would just like to feel safe in my own home, be able to stay in, walk outside without a problem after 8 o’clock at night,” she said.

“I haven’t slept. I just want something done.”

An angry woman with blonde hair is speaking. She is in a crowd and there are people around her who also look serious.
Residents in Darwin’s rural area said they felt scared in their own homes.(ABC News: Sowaibah Hanifie)

NT Police acting superintendent Paul Faustman said officers were confident their investigation would lead to arrests and believed a group of at least seven people were connected to the crime spree.

“Our indications at the point in time are that these people are targeting … unsecured premises,” he said.

“It appears they’re targeting money, alcohol and cigarettes.”

However, Superintendent Faustman said there was currently insufficient evidence to act and they needed the assistance of the public.

“There appears to be a lot of information out there and they are not sharing that with the Northern Territory Police … by not sharing it, they may be hampering our investigation,” he said.

Paul Faustman is wearing a navy NT Police uniform and talking into a microphone at a meeting. He looks serious.
NT Police Acting Superintendent Paul Faustman said a group of about seven people was believed to be linked to the incidents.(ABC News: Sowaibah Hanifie)

Rural residents want action

NT Police confirmed it had one patrol car dedicated to the Humpty Doo Police Station, but that could be called to Palmerston, about 18 kilometres away, if there was an increase in demand.

“Do you feel supported by our government? Because I don’t feel supported today,” one resident asked police.

Superintendent Faustman said police had made efforts over the past week to ensure the one car allocated to the Humpty Doo station was not diverted elsewhere.

No government minister invited to attend the meeting was present.

Jeanette Kerr is sitting on a chair and listening to someone speak. She has a serious expression and is wearing glasses.
Territory Families deputy CEO Jeanette Kerr told residents children in care were not involved in the crime spree.(ABC News: Sowaibah Hanifie)

Children in care not involved

Many residents expressed concern kids from a youth group home could be involved in the crime spree, but Territory Families said none of the children under the department’s care were suspects.

Deputy chief executive Jeanette Kerr said it was disappointing people often linked crime with children in care.

“While there is a very small percentage of children who have been involved in the youth justice system, that’s not the case here in the rural area,” Ms Kerr said.

“We have one house which is a residential house for three young people who’ve suffered significant trauma, and those young people aren’t involved in the youth justice system.”

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Homicide squad charge 81-year-old woman over Greensborough murder

Homicide Squad detectives have charged an 81-year-old woman with murder after a man, believed to be her son, was found dead in Melbourne.

Homicide Squad detectives charged the 81-year-old Greensborough woman with one count of murder in the early hours of Friday morning after she was interviewed overnight.

A 50-year-old man, believed to be the woman’s son, was found dead inside a house in Palmyra Court, Greensborough shortly after 11.30am on Monday.

Police also found the woman inside the house on the quiet suburban street and she was taken to hospital under police guard.

The woman is expected to face Melbourne Magistrates’ Court for a filing hearing on Friday.

Homicide Squad detectives investigate the circumstances surrounding a man’s death in Greensborough.
Camera IconHomicide Squad detectives investigate the circumstances surrounding a man’s death in Greensborough. Credit: News Corp Australia, Jason Edwards

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Dallas Asks State to Help Fight Spike in Crime after Cutting $7M from Cop’s Overtime

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is sending state police resources to the City of Dallas in response to a spike in violent crime. The governor responded to a request for assistance from the Dallas Police Department after city leaders cut the police overtime budget by $7 million.

“The rise in violent crime in the city of Dallas is unacceptable, and the Texas Department of Public Safety will assist the Dallas Police Department in their efforts to protect the community and reduce this surge in crime,” Governor Abbott said in a written statement. “Every Texan deserves to feel safe in their own community, and the State of Texas will continue to provide the city of Dallas with the resources they need to crack down on this heinous activity and protect Dallas residents.”

Governor Abbott responded to a request from the Dallas Police Department to provide direct support in reducing violent crime, the governor’s office reported. The Texas Department of Public Safety is sending multiple resources to help the city that is currently in the midst of a spike in violent crime. Those resources include DPS special agents, state troopers, and intelligence analysts. The additional manpower will be directed at helping support gang and drug enforcement operations.

The DPS will also provide two helicopters and two patrol planes to assist in providing air support. Finally, a team of Texas Rangers is being dispatched to support the city’s homicide division.

The call for help comes after the city cut $7 million from the $24 million overtime budget for the Dallas Police Department in September, the Texas Tribune reported. Instead of keeping commissioned officers on the street to attack violent crime, the city chose to divert funds to hiring civilian workers and improve street lighting.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson thanked Governor Abbott for sending in additional law enforcement resources, Fox4 News reported.

“I am grateful for the Governor’s willingness to assist Dallas as we combat the unacceptable increases in violent crime in our city. As I said today, this ongoing situation requires an all-hands-on-deck response, and I will continue to push for strategies and partnerships that will reduce crime in our neighborhoods. The people of Dallas deserve our unwavering commitment to their safety.”

“The violent crime in the city is out of hand. I’m tired of it. I’m sick of it,” Mayor Johnson told reporters Wednesday afternoon. “This is not a joke. This is not a game. This is not about being on television. This is about ending the needless and senseless taking of lives in the city.”

Dallas has experienced more nearly 230 homicides this year — seven in the past 24 hours, local media outlets report. Johnson says the city is set to surpass a 16-year high and has already exceeded the total for all of 2019, NBCDFW 5 reported.

Breitbart Texas reached out to the Texas Department of Public Safety for additional information about the deployment of state resources to Dallas. An immediate response was not available.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior news contributor for the Breitbart Texas-Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Price is a regular panelist on Fox 26 Houston’s What’s Your Point? Sunday-morning talk show. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX, Parler @BobPrice, and Facebook.

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‘Prefecture D’ review: A crime novel without the mayhem

Before turning mystery novelist, Hideo Yokoyama worked as an investigative reporter for a newspaper in Gunma Prefecture, Japan. His book “Prefecture D” is actually four novellas, each an intriguing story describing the complex relationships and bureaucratic tensions between individuals in the prefecture’s police force. This book is a perfect introduction to the political and social undercurrents that govern Japanese society. Like all good mysteries, each novella holds the reader in suspense until the surprising end.

In “Season of Shadows,” the first novella, Shinji Futawatari, who works in the Administrative Affairs department of Prefecture D’s police headquarters, is told he must solve the problem of a revered, legendary detective who refuses to step down from an executive position. The detective has his own agenda that he refuses to reveal. To solve the mystery, Futawatari must carefully navigate not only the bureaucracy but also the complex hierarchy separating him from his superiors.

Internal Affairs officer Takayoshi Shindo, in “Cry of the Earth,” is told by Division Chief Takegami to look into an anonymous letter accusing Yoshio Sone, the Division Chief of Public Safety at Station Q, of seeing the proprietress of a red-light district establishment – a warning he soon learns is a red herring.

The third novella, “Black Lines,” focuses on the women working as police officers in Prefecture D. When forensics sergeant Yoshio Sone fails to show up for work, she is presumed missing, and Section Chief Tomoko Nanao is tasked with finding her. Like the rest of the world, Japan has its own problems with gender discrimination. Nanao must deal with this as she seeks to unravel the mystery of her colleague’s disappearance.

“Briefcase,” the fourth novella, begins when Prefecture D’s government members plan to take part in a question-and-answer session with the police. Political Liaison Masaki Tsuge learns that a wronged politician is preparing his revenge against the police, and he must quickly find out what he can do to silence the angry man. At first, it seems a briefcase may hold the answer, but twists and turns abound.

Yokoyama’s storytelling is unusual, and his denouements contain twists. His psychological insights into his characters’ behavior – together with his succinct, descriptive prose – make for enjoyable reading.

Japanese can be a difficult language to translate and translators need to pay close attention to cultural nuances to ensure the correct context is represented. A shout-out needs to be given to the book’s translator, Jonathan Lloyd-Davies, born in Wales, who has done a yeoman’s job here.

Yokoyama never clearly defines the location of Prefecture D. Though Japan has 47 prefectures from which to choose, it’s probably based on one in a mountainous location in the middle of the country. Regardless, his attention-grabbing prose soon sweeps you into his mysteries and holds your attention until the end. “Prefecture D” may be missing the mayhem of the usual crime novel, but its page-turning narrative is not only captivating but also provides insight into Japanese society.

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Margaret River: Police issue urgent warning after gunshots fired at residence on McKeown Place

Police have issued an urgent warning to people in the Margaret River area to avoid a house where multiple gunshots have been fired.

A WA Police spokesman said there was an “active police incident” at a residence in McKeown Place.

Locals have been urged to avoid the area between McKeown Place, Bovell Avenue, William Place and Georgette Drive, including the park area within that boundary.

The spokesman said there was a risk to public safety, with reports of “multiple gunshots” fired.

Residents reported hearing multiple shots at about 5.50pm but police were yet to make any arrests.

Officers have blocked access to the street and are asking nearby residents to stay in their homes.

A St John Ambulance crew was called to a house on McKeown Place earlier in the afternoon.

Neighbours saw police descend on the house around 6pm.

The ambulance remains parked in the street, but the ambulance officers were safe.

McKeown Place residents have been evacuated until more police arrive.

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