The last word: Carroll closes the book on ‘toughest ever years’ as state’s top cop

The role of Queensland police has substantially changed but first responders are not social workers “ who were the be-all and end-all” for everything, says the state’s top cop on her final day.


Mar 01, 2024, updated Mar 01, 2024
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll announces her resignation to the media at Police Headquarters in Brisbane.  (AAP Image/Darren England)

Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll announces her resignation to the media at Police Headquarters in Brisbane. (AAP Image/Darren England)

Outgoing Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said the role of police needs to be considered in the very near future.

“Some of this work has already been done nationally and overseas, is to really look is what is the role of police in the future? In what, what do police do and what don’t police do.

“The role of police has substantially changed and are we ready for that? Do we stop saying say no to some things and I do believe that has to be the case because the police cannot be the be all and end all,’’ she said.

In a pre-recorded 12-minute interview released to media, Commissioner Carroll also spoke of the challenges ahead including attending jobs involving mental health as one of the “biggest impacts”.

“Police are not clinicians. They’re not social workers. They do require further assistance in this space. Other policing jurisdictions that we’re looking at closely looks at triaging a lot of those jobs at the front end with experts.

“And that’s not necessarily attending all of those jobs either but having a really good risk assessment to deal with it. You reduce police having to respond to about 30% of them in some instance, we do have to respond as you know, because they could be extraordinarily difficult and dangerous to deal with,’’ she said.

Commissioner Carroll said she hoped she was remembered as a fair and compassionate commissioner who led the organisation through the “toughest of times ever”.

“And that the organisation performed outstandingly during that period of time. When I look at the last five years in this organisation, I cannot remember in my time or even in history that there has been a tougher five years.

“We went through COVID,  a number of task forces a commission of inquiry, the deaths of three police officers and the challenges and the demand that we’re dealing with. They have been the toughest of five years,’’ she said of her term.

Commissioner Carroll finishes up today, four months short of when her contract was due to expire on July 9.

She announced last week she would not be asking for her contract to be renewed following weeks of criticism over her response to youth crime and growing unrest in her ranks. Commissioner Carroll said she no longer wanted the speculation about her fate to be a distraction.

She was Queensland’s first female Police Commissioner – a job she took after being the state’s first female fire chief. She says said when she entered the Oxley Police Academy 41 years ago she concentrated on getting through training and achieving “little things” as she rose through the ranks, not envisioning she would one day lead the organisation.

“But I’ve got to say it has been the greatest honour. I’ve worked and studied all my life, trying to always be an operational police officer for most of my life because I think that’s incredibly important and I joined this job because I loved seeing what police did in their community, how important they were community, how important community was to them.

“And I think I leave that way as well. I leave knowing that policing is so important to the community that we serve,’’ she said.

She said COVID was “extraordinarily challenging” for the Queensland Police Service (QPS) as it added to the organisation’s fatigue and suspended some of changes she wanted to make.

“But we took into it a strategy of compassion, of communication and then compliance. We worked so well with the community. I was extraordinarily proud of the organization because they work so well community and I look at other jurisdictions, I think we had one of the best responses to COVID in the world,’’ she said.

Post-pandemic daily police statistics reflected exponential increases in domestic violence, mental health and social media fuelled behavioural changes in youth crime, Commissioner Carroll said.

“These are the some of the things that we did not see prior to COVID that the exponential increase in violence in terms of the weapons that young people are using.

“So yes, the environment has changed substantially. And it is more challenging and demand has definitely increased,’’ she said.

Leadership has also become “incredibly difficult” after COVID but the best part of her job was engaging with her frontline, Commissioner Carroll said.

“You have to communicate with your workforce and engage with them. And one of the strongest and my most powerful ways of doing this is to be highly visible, and to spend time with victims and to spend time with your frontline…’’ she said.

Within those discussions with her frontline, Commissioner got a “real sense” of the difficulties around the processes and systems when police respond to domestic and family violence.

Commissioner Carroll has previously publicly acknowledged it takes police between four to six hours to process a domestic and family violence incident.

She said the people in the QPS and the communities it serves was her career highlight and what she will miss most.

Commissioner Carroll said she looked forward to spending time with her family and a slower pace than the frenetic life of policing.

“I have not had many, many holidays or many breaks in the last 12 years. I think I need to learn to slow down,’’ she said.


Local News Matters

We strive to deliver the best local independent coverage of the issues that matter to Queenslanders.

Copyright © 2024 InQueensland.
All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy