The State Coroner has noted a major link between fatal police shootings and the mental health of victims. It’s hoped a series of recommendations will improve police procedures and reduce future deaths but the union isn’t convinced.
Jessamy Tredinnick reports.
State Coroner Terry Ryan examined the deaths of five men shot by police in 2013 and 2014, three of which occurred in one week.
The Coroner noted a “…very significant over-representation of mentally ill persons in fatalities associated with police use of force…”
Recommendations include better communication between the police service and other Government departments as well as officers and alleged offenders.
A solution noted by the Coroner more training for police to help officers recognise mental illness in crisis situations.
Nick Callyer, Queensland Advocacy Incorporated: “Police need to have early exposure to people with lived experience and to have the opportunity to do scenario-based training with people.”
The recommendations met with a mixed response.
Ian Leavers, Queensland Police Union General President and CEO: “It is going to be a bureaucratic nightmare for police but at the end of the day, every other department in Queensland, if they fail, it becomes the responsibility of police.”
The Coroner also recommended more help for police officers, witnesses and victims’ families.
The coroner recommended that police must undergo at least one session with a psychologist or psychiatrist after an incident involving a fatality, to minimise trauma.
Victims’ families are hopeful the Coroner’s report will lead to change.
Ken Mackenzie, Victim’s family lawyer: “Mrs. Zimmer is very pleased that the Coroner has acknowledged that mental health are the core business of the police service.”
The Coroner also confirmed officers in each case did act appropriately in discharging their weapons.
Jessamy Tredinnick, QUT News.