QT: Police call for bigger guns, technology to take on bikies
POLICE have called for extra firepower to take on outlaw motorcycle gangs, saying their pistols are no match for rifle-wielding gang members.
Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said that while he supported 'tougher' laws to take on bikies, police needed the resources and technology to do the job.
"The bikies have high calibre weapons at their disposal,'' Mr Leavers told ABC radio on the Sunshine Coast.
"We need to have the same firepower to protect ourselves and do our job and protect the community.''
He said police needed technology to access their databases out on the field - not do it via the police radio - where they could be monitored by anyone.
"On the Gold Coast they are being told to do all the checks via the telephone - on the private phones of police.
"That is not acceptable.'
"We don't have a digital radio network ... everyone knows what we are doing down on the Gold Coast.''
He said the lack of such technology was a failure of senior police, which was putting officers' lives at risk.
"We need to protect the police doing the job because it is too late when a tragedy happens involving a police officer.
"As we know, I said before Damian Leeding was murdered, that someone was going to die as a result of the organised crime down the Gold Coast, I just never thought it would be one of our own.
"I don't want to go down that track again.''
The police union has also raised concerns that some officers are being told if they don't get on board with the bikie crackdown they should consider their futures.
Mr Leavers said the government still needed to give police legal power to raid homes suspected of being bikie strongholds.
The Police Union warned police were being ordered to employ questionable tactics including executing "dodgy'' warrants on homes and businesses.
And he said the focus should not be only on bikies.
"What we have to remember is that bikies aren't the only criminal organisation on the Gold Coast.
"Successive governments have said there was not a problem with bikies or criminal organisations on the Gold Coast.
"I have known there is a problem.
"We have seen murders and shootings with bikies on the Gold Coast.
"They are more overt than what your other criminal organisations are.
"We need to tackle the whole industry of criminal organisations not just bikies.''
Mr Leavers said he was very concerned police were not being protected.
"I wrote to the Commissioner asking for police to be properly protected ... for their names to be removed from public databases,'' he said.
"We are the ones going to be enforcing the laws and our lives are going to be put at risk.''
Police were advised they could personally have their names removed from electoral rolls and other places.
Mr Levers said the response was not good enough.
Asked to comment on suggestions that bikies only contributed to a small part of criminal activity, Mr Leavers said their criminal impact should not be underplayed.
"There is a drug trade that is unbelievable in relation to the criminal motorcycle gangs," he said.
"They are responsible for a lot of violent crimes, a lot of standover tactics, people are too frightened to even come forward."
Police Commissioner Ian Stewart told ABC radio in Brisbane that police are not afraid of retribution from bikies and will step up to the challenge of a bikie crackdown.
"If people aren't prepared to do that, to step up in times when the going gets tough, then they really do need to consider another career or another line of employment," he said.