http://www.news. com.au/heraldsun /story/0, 21985,22494154- 25717,00. html
Herald Sun (Melbourne)
Females face the front line
By Andrew Bolt
The latest police Gazette has great news for women - unless they're women in urgent need of police with muscle, Andrew Bolt writes.
Or, as constables Sharna and Nicole found last Sunday, they're police who need that muscle themselves.
The Gazette notes that squad five of this year's recruits has been sworn in as constables, so congratulations to Sylvia, Simone, Skye and the rest.
In fact, nine of these 16 new constables are women, which should thrill those people in heavy knits who believe in gender equality in all things -- from policing to childbirth.
Such heavy recruiting of women is now typical under Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon, who wants our force to be more feminised and "anti-authoritarian ". So 14 of the 21 new constables of squad four, and 11 of the 18 of squad three, were women too -- which means only a third of all new officers since July have been men.
What a triumph for Nixon. It shows what you can do when you try hard to promote people with the right gender, rather than the right qualifications.
And, no, I'm not being too harsh. You see, one of those qualifications now being overlooked to help the ladies is the one requiring new police meet fairly stern physical standards.
The old tests that demanded recruits drag weighted tyres at speed, or scale 2m walls, have been relaxed or scrapped since the Labor Government came to power and started to preach gender politics.
How well that change worked. Soon the Auditor-General could note: "Since 1999, the proportion of female applicants who successfully completed the (fitness) test is 80 per cent, compared with approximately 30 per cent in the 1990s before the changes were made."
This seems to be only good news to Nixon, who prefers police to back off rather than biff, even when confronting the rampaging lawless, and who now has officers in Frankston writing letters to repeat offenders asking them, pretty please, to stop.
But Nixon's feminisation of the force has not just given us police who seem unwilling to stand up to a rabble -- as we saw at last year's G20 riots -- but police who seem physically unable to.
Frustrated male officers have told me of having to work on patrol with women who couldn't be counted on in a confrontation with hoons, needing as much police protection as the public.
Now, I read the incident fact sheet that poor constables Sharna and Nicole filed on Sunday to explain how Sharna came to scratch her hands.
"(We) responded to YCT (Youths Causing Trouble alert), on arrival observed approx 30 males walking Nth in Clarendon St throwing flares after leaving a soccer match at the Bob Jane Stadium", the women wrote.
"Members att(empted) to s/t (speak to) one particular male who was in possession of a flare.
"As members have attempted to s/t male, other males in group have pushed members away and closed ranks around suspect. Members were repeatedly pushed away from suspect.
"During scuffle member has dropped set of car keys belonging to police va. . . During scuffle u/k (unknown) person has stolen keys . . .
"While members have backed off awaiting for assistance, males have decamped . . . Keys not recovered." And so a police van was put out of action.
Of course, confronting 30 youths gone giddy over the soccer is a bit of an ask even for two male officers, so I'm reluctant to criticise these women.
Yet, I wonder if the louts who pushed them around would have dared do the same to a couple of six-foot male officers with that authoritarian attitude Nixon has vowed to destroy.
That said, no real harm done . . . this time. But one day this lack of frontline muscle might be fatal.
I say that after NSW police last month issued this press statement: "Senior police have praised members of the public who came to the assistance of two female officers . . .
"The constables . . . attended a car dealership . . . after receiving reports of a man causing problems . . .
"The policewomen were speaking with the man when his behaviour turned aggressive and violent. The officers attempted to subdue the man with capsicum spray . . . He then allegedly assaulted both officers before unsuccessfully attempting to remove one of the constables' firearms from her holster. The man . . . then allegedly pushed the other officer into a parked vehicle, causing her to hit her head. As a result, she dropped her baton, which was picked up by the offender.
"He was allegedly about to strike the officer with the baton when he was restrained by up to 10 passers-by . . ."
God know what the man, apparently schizophrenic, might have done had he got hold of that gun.
Again, a caveat: male officers can also find it very hard to restrain a struggling man, and some have come off the worst when trying to.
Yet, I suspect the public won't often have to rescue two male officers as the public had to rescue these two women.
I also suspect few women could have saved themselves the way acting Sergeant Shane Gray did last year. Again I quote, this time from a report on an inquest which closed this week:
"A policeman was in fear of his life when he shot dead a man he pulled over for stealing petrol in remote Western Australia . . .
"(A witness) told the inquest today the officer did not know (William John) Watkins was on the run for the rape and double homicide of sisters Colleen Irwin 32, and Laura Irwin, 21, whose bodies were found in Melbourne on January 28, 2006 . . . Watkins . . . attacked the unsuspecting officer,repeatedly bashing and kicking him, breaking his nose . . . Fearing for his life, Sgt Gray shot Watkins . . ."
Would a Sgt Tanya have survived or stopped this double killer?
It's true police aren't often called upon to use their strength. But it's reckless to pretend officers on patrol don't need to be able to handle themselves physically, especially now street violence is getting luridly worse.
Even the very women who gain most from the feminising of the force worry that perhaps the standards have been dropped too much, after all.
This time I'll quote the minutes of a police women's support group, which met in Echuca and discussed an earlier article in which I raised these concerns: "(T)here was general agreement that training requirements at the (police) academy had been dropped not just for women but for both sexes. The feeling of members is that the standard of recruits has been dropped for both sexes."
Of course, these 16 women insisted this was not to be "seen as a female gender issue" -- although the standards were dropped precisely to get more women into the force.
Well, job done. But even feminists on the force are now uneasy about the results, and someone -- maybe them, maybe you -- may soon get hurt.