GRIMLEY (Western Victoria) (18:53:58): My adjournment matter is for the attention of the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, the Honourable Lisa Neville, and it relates to all frontline Victoria Police officers carrying conducted energy devices, otherwise known as tasers, as part of their tactical options. Having been trained in the use of tasers as an alternative non-lethal tactical option, I can personally attest to the effectiveness and increased ability of tasers in keeping our police members and public safe. The increased assaults upon our police members have become all-too-familiar occurrences. Our protectors are placing themselves at risk on a daily basis. It is irresponsible and reckless of us not to allow every police member on the front line access to tasers to protect them from such horrendous attacks. Currently police have access to tactical options and equipment that include the ASP baton, OC spray and firearms. These options are limited as to their use and effectiveness in certain situations.
For instance, OC spray is only effective where there is very little wind and can often affect bystanders nearby an incident. From my experience, the ASP baton is rarely used and can only be deployed upon certain areas of the body to limit serious injuries, and obviously the firearm is the lethal option and only deployed in life-threatening situations. The non-equipment-based options include the hands-on approach, which places officers in close physical contact with an offender, and the verbal option. With the verbal option it is not uncommon for offenders to be alcohol or drug affected, and the verbal option provides very little effect, if any at all, in these situations. Tasers, therefore, are a necessary component of the frontline police member’s options if we are to be serious about protecting their welfare and the safety of our community. Tasers are currently available to members of the critical incident response team and special operations group and in limited regional areas, including Mildura, Warrnambool, Wangaratta and Geelong. There were around 3000 assaults on police last year, and I have also been a member of that not too exclusive club. Tasers have been rolled out to police in New South Wales and Queensland. Why is Victoria seemingly always playing catch-up with other states?
Why are we not giving our protectors all the tools necessary to keep them and us safe? Minister Neville was quoted in the Herald Sun on 10 February saying that the government will: … continue to ensure that police are equipped with the necessary equipment they need to perform their duties safely and effectively. While this assurance continues the assaults upon our Victoria Police members will also continue, and I note that the rollout of tasers to all frontline police members has the full support of the Victoria Police Association. The action I seek is for the minister to roll out conducted energy devices to all general duties police officers across the state as a matter of urgency. This would provide all police officers with the necessary tools to keep themselves and the general public safe and further prevent the escalating violence against Victoria’s finest.