At least three police regions now support no confidence vote on Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker

by | Apr 27, 2022 | Cops, News | 0 comments

Officers in two more Territory police regions have voted for the Northern Territory Police Association to hold a Territory-wide vote of confidence in Commissioner Jamie Chalker and Deputy Commissioner Murray Smalpage, sources have told the NT Independent.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Palmerston region meeting of about 60 officers voted almost unanimously for the union to hold a vote, with only one officer voting against the motion.

A “region” known as Specialist Services – which includes the TRG, Air Wing, Water Police, the Dog Unit and Intelligence unit, also held a recent vote which sources said was unanimous in calling for the NTPA to hold a Territory-wide vote.

It comes after 30 officers in Alice Springs last week also voted unanimously for a confidence ballot to be held. These are motions that have come from rank-and-file officers, so the votes have not been organised by the NTPA.

The votes follow the unanimous March Supreme Court not guilty verdict for Constable Zach Rolfe. He was charged with murder four days after the shooting death of Kumanjayi Walker during an attempted arrest in Yuendumu in 2019. The charge was arrived at after police running the investigation had a 90 minute meeting with the Director of Public Prosecutions where police handed over an unfinished brief of evidence.

The decision to charge has been surrounded in controversy, with yet unproven allegations of political interference.

Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Michael Riches announced he would investigate the four days after the shooting that led to the charge, and has not ruled out Chief Minister Michael Gunner being called as a witness in the ICAC investigation into those allegations.

Mr Chalker told the media in the week after the trial that he had no input into the decision to charge Constable Rolfe with murder, but reporting by the NT Independent based on the diary notes of his own detectives, and a report by the ICAC Inspector, showed evidence of his involvement in the investigation five times, in the four days after the shooting.

Both Mr Gunner and Mr Chalker have repeatedly denied any political interference in the charge.

Mr Chalker did not respond to questions about the vote, including whether he would resign if his members continued to turn against him publicly.

NTPA president’s hesitancy to hold confidence vote on Chalker remains unexplained

NTPA president Paul McCue did not respond directly to questions of whether the NTPA was going to hold a confidence vote, or if there was anything stopping it from happening.

Instead he said in a statement: “Such motions at meetings are part of a normal industrial process and members have the right to vote on motions during industrial meetings”.

“This is not uncommon,” he said. “The motions will be referred to our annual conference which will hear and debate such motions to determine support or otherwise.

“No further comment will be made until this process has been allowed to occur.”

When asked to clarify that his intent was to suggest motions to support votes of confidence in police commissioners was common, the NTPA responded that “nowhere in the below statement does it say the motion you are referring to is common”.

“That’s an assumption on your part. Discussing motions of any nature at NTPA meetings is common.”

In an interview with The Australian in February 2020, Mr McCue said Mr Chalker was “out of touch with our troops if he can’t see the irreparable damage the swift charging of Constable Rolfe” had inflicted on police morale.

“Our members are still completely dumbfounded by the hasty decision to charge Constable Rolfe with murder, just days after the critical incident, and before a thorough investigation had ­occurred,” Mr McCue said at the time.

“The NTPA still receives ­numerous calls, daily, from members who are angry, disillusioned, and questioning whether they still want to remain in the NT Police Force …”

However after the verdict, Mr McCue has not once criticised Mr Chalker and said the NTPA would need to travel around the Territory to consult with members to gauge their feelings about the Commissioner, and the charging of Constable Rolfe.

Mr McCue would not clarify if these votes were taking place as part of the NTPA’s Territory-wide consultation, or explain if that consultation was being undertaken, or if the policy of waiting to the annual conference was a new one, as he had not raised it publicly before.

He told The Australian multiple police union regions need to pass the motion before Mr McCue will take the issue to its conference in August.

 

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