‘I am proud to be Commissioner’: Chalker issues written statement, refuses to stand down amid allegations

by | Mar 14, 2022 | News | 0 comments

Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker has refused to stand down, issuing an extraordinary written public statement amid growing calls for his resignation, stating that “we will continue to work on relationships with all Territorians” and defending the decision to charge Zach Rolfe with murder.

Mr Chalker issued the statement just after 5pm on Monday, following a day in which the union representing police suggested there was political interference around the decision to charge Zach Rolfe, and allegations made in a radio interview by Constable Rolfe’s father accusing Mr Chalker of acting corruptly by concealing a report into the shooting death of Kumanjayi Walker.

Mr Chalker defended the police investigation process that saw Constable Rolfe charged just four days after the shooting, stating that “the integrity of the criminal judicial process had to be maintained once charges were laid” and that the decision to charge was made with the assistance of the Office of the Director for Public Prosecutions.

“To suggest that this normal investigative and prosecutorial process, between a police force and DPP, was in any way interfered with, or had any political involvement or interference is factually incorrect,” he wrote.

“Such unfounded allegations are an affront to the critical independence of the Northern Territory police and the DPP and damage the trust and confidence in the criminal justice system which must be held by the community.”

Mr Chalker was publicly criticised after holding a press conference on Friday following the not guilty verdict, in which he took no questions and failed to mention Zach Rolfe, Kumanjayi Walker, Yuendumu or the charges and subsequent Supreme Court murder trial.

He finally acknowledged those key issues in the written statement Monday afternoon.

“I acknowledge this has been an extremely difficult and distressing time for many in the community, the Northern Territory Police Force, and Constable Rolfe, his family and friends,” Mr Chalker said in the statement.

“Since the time of the incident my thoughts have been with everyone involved.

“Notwithstanding the acquittal of Constable Rolfe I can understand that there are still many questions that the community has that are unanswered.

“A substantial coronial inquest is scheduled for later in the year, and many of those questions will be answered in that process.”

The coronial inquiry has yet to be confirmed, the Court said on Monday, but is likely to run for three months starting in September, presided over by Judge Elisabeth Armitage.

Mr Chalker claimed he was “constrained” in what he could say until the inquest is held.

“The Northern Territory police will fully co-operate with the Coroner, and the inquest is the proper venue to answer or address those questions,” he said. “Until that inquest is held I am constrained in what I can say.

“We will continue to work on our relationships with all Territorians.

“The Northern Territory police has a proud history of engagement with people across remote, regional and urban areas of this place we call home.

“I am proud of our people and I am proud to be the Commissioner of Police and CEO of the Fire and Emergency Services.”

Director of Public Prosecutions Jack Karczewski and deputy director Matthew Nathan announced they were both leaving their senior roles last June, following a mass exodus of other senior staff.

Nick Anticich, the officer in charge of the murder investigation into Constable Rolfe also resigned last year.

It was revealed during the trial that Mr Anticich made no notes during discussions about whether to charge Constable Rolfe.

NT Police Association president Paul McCue said on Monday that “political interference was alive” when the charges were laid in November 2019. Mr Gunner later denied any political involvement.

The Opposition CLP has called for a fully independent inquiry into the circumstances around the decision to charge Constable Rolfe with murder.

READ JAMIE CHALKER’S FULL STATEMENT BELOW:

From the outset I have been clear that the integrity of the criminal judicial process had to be maintained once charges were laid following the death of Kumanjayi Walker in Yuendumu on Saturday 9 November 2019. 

An investigation into the incident at Yuendumu began immediately. As a result a brief was provided to the Director of Public Prosecutions and consequently a charge was laid.

The DPP, on further consideration of the brief, subsequently added a further two alternative charges.

To suggest that this normal investigative and prosecutorial process, between a police force and DPP, was in any way interfered with, or had any political involvement or interference is factually incorrect.  Such unfounded allegations are an affront to the critical independence of the Northern Territory police and the DPP and damage the trust and confidence in the criminal justice system which must be held by the community.

Constable Zachary Rolfe was found not guilty of all charges in the Darwin Supreme Court on Friday 11 March 2022.

I acknowledge this has been an extremely difficult and distressing time for many in the community, the Northern Territory Police Force, and Constable Rolfe, his family and friends.

Since the time of the incident my thoughts have been with everyone involved.

Notwithstanding the acquittal of Constable Rolfe I can understand that there are still many questions that the community has that are unanswered.

A substantial coronial inquest is scheduled for later in the year, and many of those questions will be answered in that process.

Although not a criminal proceeding, the coronial inquest process also deserves the utmost respect.  The Northern Territory police will fully co-operate with the Coroner, and the inquest is the proper venue to answer or address those questions.  Until that inquest is held I am constrained in what I can say.

We will continue to work on our relationships with all Territorians.

The Northern Territory police has a proud history of engagement with people across remote, regional and urban areas of this place we call home.

Our people work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year serving and protecting the community.

I am proud of our people and I am proud to be the Commissioner of Police and CEO of the Fire and Emergency Services.

Jamie Chalker APM

Commissioner and CEO

 

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