Police call for union to hold confidence vote on Commissioner Jamie Chalker

by | Apr 21, 2022 | Cops, News | 0 comments

NT Police officers in Alice Springs have voted to force the NT Police Association to hold a Territory-wide vote of confidence in Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker, sources have told the NT Independent.

The vote was held at a NT Police southern region meeting in Alice Springs on Wednesday, with one source saying the vote passed unanimously.

Another source said the idea of a vote of no confidence in Mr Chalker was raised after Constable Zach Rolfe was charged with the murder for the shooting death of of Kumanjayi Walker during an attempted arrest in November 2019. They said NTPA president Paul McCue said at the time they would have to wait until after Constable Rolfe’s trial, which ended in a not guilty verdict in the Supreme Court in early March.

But the source said, Mr McCue has now said they would be unable to hold a vote of no confidence in the police commissioner citing the need for “evidence”.

A third source said that a majority of the 11 different NTPA divisions across the NT would have to pass similar votes in order to get a confidence motion against Mr Chalker to be formally put Territory-wide.

The NTPA and the NT Police did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

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.

Constable Rolfe was charged with murder four days after the shooting, and after 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.

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

Petition calling for Chalker to resign hit 9000; Commissioner denied being involved in charge despite contradicting evidence

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 office of the ICAC inspector, showed evidence of his involvement in the investigation five times, in the four days after the shooting.

That included seemingly making the decision along with other police executives to charge Constable Rolfe with murder, and the fact he was in a private meeting with those executives directly after the DPP meeting and minutes before detectives investigating the death were told to arrest the officer.

At least five of the detectives investigating, including the two in charge wrote in their notes about their concern over the haste in the investigation moving towards a charge, and resistance to Constable Rolfe being arrested.

Following the verdict, a change.org petition calling on Mr Chalker to resign or be sacked garnered roughly 9,000 signatures in about 10 days.

The NT Police attrition rate continues to be roughly double what it was two years ago, with Mr Chalker saying it was due to burnout from the force’s role in COVID-19 management, while Police Minister Nicole Manison alternated between giving that as a reason, and saying NT police officers were the best in the country and were being recruited interstate.

In a recent media statement, Mr McCue referred to the last almost two years as having “one of the greatest resignation rates of police officers in NT history”, but which he blamed Mr Gunner for, not Mr Chalker.

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