Top cop promises to pursue police widow’s bullying claims
Allegations of bullying and intimidation shared by the widow of a Queensland police officer killed on the job six years ago are being taken seriously, the state’s top cop says.
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll. (AAP Image/Jason O'Brien)
Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll says she is “incredibly saddened” by the distress felt by Senior Constable Brett Forte’s partner Susie after his shooting death in May 2017.
“I personally met with Susie and spoke to her and these matters will be looked at, not only just in recent times but over that extended period,” Carroll told ABC radio Brisbane on Wednesday.
“It’s very difficult to listen to, she’s a good person and a good human, and we should be supporting our people.”
Forte and his police partner were “sitting ducks” when Ricky Maddison lured them down a dirt road and opened fire with a machine gun in the Lockyer Valley, west of Brisbane, according to an inquest into his death.
Coroner Terry Ryan said several systemic factors may have contributed to Forte’s death and it was possible the shooting could have been prevented.
Susie Forte said she and her husband’s partner, Senior Constable Cath Nielsen, had suffered ongoing bullying, intimidation, threats, gas lighting and manipulation from police colleagues after asking questions about the 2017 shooting.
“Many issues I asked questions about continue to be swept under the carpet and there is no doubt an incident like this will happen again in the near future as the problems have not been rectified,” she told reporters after the findings were handed down on Tuesday.
Susie Forte, who’s also a police officer, was on duty the day her husband was killed.
Carroll insisted that a reformed complaints system within the QPS means officers can have confidence about speaking up.
“The system has completely changed, it was highly decentralised,” she said.
“(Now) all matters of bullying, sexism, racism (and) misogyny come to one point, to senior officers.”
The commissioner is also pushing for a national firearms register following the death of two other officers in December last year.
Constable Matthew Arnold and Constable Rachel McCrow were murdered on a Wieambilla property, more than 300 kilometres west of Brisbane, by a trio of conspiracy theorists.
“That will make a difference to everyone…to have one system across the entire nation, where you can track firearms and who owns them is incredibly important,” she said.