June 03, 2004


An update to the story earlier this week about psycho Western Australian police:

Assistant Commissioner Tim Atherton, who ordered six detectives be transferred out of their unit, said yesterday that the police service should not be judged by the actions of a "stupid few".

"In the same way that we do not judge the great nation of the United States by the actions of, perhaps, a few US army officers in a prison in Iraq," he said.

In accordance with standard global procedure, an apology has been issued:

After The West Australian's account of the incident appeared on several American websites, including Drudge Report, there were dozens of letters to the newspaper from outraged Americans here. Mr Atherton, who has apologised to the US Consulate over the incident, said he was concerned by the hysteria generated by reporting of the events.

Posted by Tim Blair at June 3, 2004 02:02 AM

I hope these "police" lose their jobs.

"Outraged" is a mild way of describing some of the American letters published in the West Australian over the past couple of days.

Despite Mr Atherton's comments, America as a whole was judged by the events of Abu Ghraib, at least in the letters page of the West Australian.

That being the case, you can't blame ordinary Americans for being equally revolted at the behaviour of our own morons.

Posted by: gaz at June 3, 2004 at 02:36 AM

Except Mr. Commissioner, six detectives make up a far greater percentage of the personnel, indeed senior personnel, of your police force than did a half dozen soldiers among the almost 140,000 in Iraq.
Transfers don't strike me as much of a punishment compared with going to jail, and the last time I looked Western Australia wasn't suffering the stress of a war zone.

Posted by: chip at June 3, 2004 at 02:52 AM

And those students weren't prisoners charged with crimes, high or low. Can you imagine the outrage had American policeman done the same to visiting students in the States?

But what's the story on the one American student who punched out the policeman? Was it an unprovoked assault?

Posted by: c at June 3, 2004 at 03:01 AM

I'm glad to see this response. It's appropriate and timely. Thank you, Australia, for being a civilized nation.

But I have one comment.....

"Mr Atherton, who has apologised to the US Consulate over the incident, said he was concerned by the hysteria generated by reporting of the events."

The emphasis is mine.

If Mr. Atherton wants to see an hysterical reaction, have him take those "stupid few" to the slums of a major US city, and repeat the same antics to a group of people selected at random. He'll see real hysteria.

The law enforcement profession in the USA is an honorable one. But not all officers are honorable, they only being human after all. But if an agency is to enforce the law with the cooperation of the citizens, there needs to be a mutual respect. And you don't earn that respect by behaving like drunken hooligans.

The alternative is to enforce the laws without the cooperation of the citizens. Those are generally known as "police states".

Posted by: The Real JeffS at June 3, 2004 at 03:04 AM

gaz, I hope ALL police officers lose their jobs, they are fucking worthless

Posted by: Oktober at June 3, 2004 at 03:07 AM

To be honest, I didn't notice any hysteria at all. Wasn't talked about at the office, hardly mentioned in the papers, radio talk shows (local) I listen to didn't mention it. I'm glad I missed all the hysteria.

People seem to be getting hysterical over a lot these days. Look at the hysteria over the 'Iraqi Prisoner Abuse' scandal. Some people still keep bringing that up.

People will behave badly. Deal with the bad behavior and get on with it. Don't make everything into some crisis that needs to be apologized for over and over and over .. ad nauseum.

Events worth getting very upset about are terrorist attacks, influential peoples in our countries who are apologists for the terrorists, college professors that teach our young people to hate the culture they live in, assistance programs that allow those who would kill us to live on our tax dollars in our own countries.

Cops and soldiers who behave shamefully should cause us to be upset, but not very upset. We can punish the cops and soldiers.

I think what the police did was wrong. Since they are Australian police, and Australia has pretty much the same values as Americans do, I'm sure their superiors will take care of it. This is how I felt about the soldiers. They will be punished.

What more can be asked but that those people be punished?

Posted by: Chris Josephson at June 3, 2004 at 03:43 AM

It's funny. A few soldiers get out of line and the mass media flog it for weeks as evidence that the war is a failure, the military consists solely of goons, the US administration is corrupt and evil, etc. etc. But when a few cops get out of line in a fairly similar way, we're warned against the "hysteria generated by reporting of the events."

Posted by: Harry at June 3, 2004 at 04:03 AM

Chris: Excellent take. I agree.

Posted by: CurrencyLad at June 3, 2004 at 04:36 AM

If this had happened in Southern California, where I grew up, and which has a population comparable to that of Australia, six senior cops acting this way would be a huge deal. Amnesty International would be all over it. Facsist American Police State Torments Unwelcome Forigners. I'm sure Australian editorial pages would be going berserk in a frenzy of condemnation.
And just for the sake of perspective, nobody with a life here in the U.S. has any idea this story even exists. Which pretty much means every one here but us internet news geeks. America isn't outraged. America doesn't even notice...nor should they.

Posted by: John at June 3, 2004 at 06:15 AM

And ANOTHER thing (Rant, rant). Having come of age listening to the subtle inflections of Police-Scandal-Speak (all thanks be to the L.A.P.D., progenitor of international superstars like Mark Furman, Rodney King, and Daryl Gates) I would like to point out the not so subtle difference between getting 'booted' and getting 'transferred'. Booted means you're fired, and while you might find another job, your career is over. Transferred means you go elsewhere 'till things blow over, then it's business as usual until you get your pension.
I'm not sayin' these guys should be booted, but they've yet to be fired...

Posted by: John at June 3, 2004 at 06:37 AM

Well I'll say it John. As a West Australian myself I think they should have been booted off the force.

These were detectives, not just your average constables, who abused their position and displayed an unbelievable lack of judgement. I can't see how people like this can be left on the force, sorry service, and still expect us to maintain any respect.

The nebulous term "transferred" is not good enough!

Lastly, I don't these guys were anti-US. I think their comments were simply aimed to humiliate the students. For example, if the students were french I'm sure they would have had a very different set of opinions.

Posted by: CJ at June 3, 2004 at 11:54 AM

Unlike the U.S. arm,y, the Vic labour party and the police party have a very large number of gangsters pretending to be decent folk. Sod Atherton, seeking refuge behind the battledress of genuinely decent men to justify the great protection racket called police forces.

Posted by: d at June 3, 2004 at 02:54 PM