This week there was an incident where two police officers were attacked with a baseball bat, which left one of those officers with a fractured skull. This is yet another incident of our frontline officers being attacked at an ever-increasing rate and level of violence.
The fact is thirty years ago people would not have dreamed of laying a finger on an officer – purely because they had respect for the uniform, respect for authority, and they feared the consequences. Over the past few decades, serious assaults have increased by over 250%. Last year there were over seven thousand attacks. Add to this the fact that we have moved along the continuum from assaults to knives, now to firearms being used against our thin blue line, it is any wonder our courageous men and women on the frontline continue to serve.
What makes it worse is the current government has stalled, stagnated, and is stuck in neutral when it comes to giving protection and supporting our officers. Not only have they frozen funding for training new recruits, but they are also refusing to engage in a discussion about arming police and giving our officers what they need to protect themselves.
Funding cuts- a path to destruction
It is quite astonishing that we have a surge in gang numbers, their activity, and their violence on our streets, yet this government has made the decision to freeze funding for police recruitment. The police training college has the resources, staff, and equipment to train more – they just do not have the funds.
The baseball bat incident occurred when a 17-year-old was pulled over for a traffic violation and his car was going to be impounded. All the way through the process of the officers dealing with the youth he was compliant and good to deal with. At the point that the car was going to be towed the officers allowed the youth to take anything from the vehicle that he needed. The youth then decided to get a baseball bat from the boot, walk up behind one of the officers, and swing the bat at his head.
Not only should this 17-year-old be sent straight to adult court, but he should face adult time for the adult crime.
Currently attacks on our first responders including police, paramedics, and corrections officers are met with weak sentences that just compound the issue of our men and women becoming increasing targets for violent thugs. They simply have no real consequences for their actions.
There is a bill currently in front of the justice select committee that seeks to bring in a minimum mandatory six-month prison sentence for these attacks on our first responders. This isn’t what will fix the problem, but it will draw the much-needed line in the sand that will show we as a society will not accept attacks on our first responders.
Soft-on-crime vs Common sense
What is most important at this point, is for the National Party to back this bill. The increase in assaults against our first responders is a symptom of the current governments pro-offender, ‘soft on crime’ approach to law and order. We need an opposition to show they will change that if they make it to government – and supporting this bill is one way of showing that.
Ultimately, something needs to happen to stop these assaults. We cannot allow our officers to keep being assaulted and allow the government to continue to do nothing.
We need a change in approach to crime, how we deal with offenders, and what we are willing to accept from this government.
We cannot continue to have this blatant ‘soft on crime’ approach and expect anything to change.