Top cop rises to the COVID challenge

 

QUEENSLAND'S highest-ranking cop Katarina Carroll has stared down some unprecedented challenges in her first year, but has fast earned a reputation as both fair and competent.

Since the career police officer and detective of 15 years was named as retiring Police Commissioner Ian Stewart's replacement, she has steered the state's police force through some turbulent times, including the mammoth job of policing rolling COVID-19 restrictions.

But the woman who made history as the state's first female commissioner has also not been afraid to show a more human side.

For instance, there are the selfies posted to her social media accounts with uniformed cops at stations around the state - such as Mundingburra and Rockhampton - complete with smiley police emoticons.

She'll turn up at staff luncheons and mix with the officers.

There's the personalised internal staff emails.

Her support for a more modern face to policing.

And Carroll is also happy to open up about her own life, talking at police press conferences about how she can relate to breaking incidents not just as the state's top cop, but as a mum. In short, she is well-liked by the troops.

 

 

Commissioner Katarina Carroll during one of the Premier's disaster coordination meetings at 1 William Street, Brisbane. Picture: Liam Kidston
Commissioner Katarina Carroll during one of the Premier's disaster coordination meetings at 1 William Street, Brisbane. Picture: Liam Kidston

 

 

Her approach has set the tone for a more approachable public image of the police at a time of intense scrutiny amid the Black Lives Matter movement.

The friendly image is in contrast to the more staid persona of her predecessor Stewart.

The positive police response to Carroll's proactive approach has proven useful during the massive exercise of co-ordinating the police response to the waves of unprecedented restrictions that came with COVID-19.

It meant mobilising officers across the state to police border lockdowns, along with social distancing and isolation rules.

New investigations were put on hold as detectives of all ranks across the state were asked to pitch in. While that sparked criticism about highly-trained cops sitting on remote borders, the response has been remarkably smooth for such a sudden and major operation.

It's not just the pandemic that has created some tough times in Carroll's first year.

The horrific murder at Camp Hill of Hannah Clarke and her three children by her estranged husband in February sent shockwaves across the nation.

Doused in petrol and set alight, the murder-suicide was an unthinkable act that rightly put the focus squarely on the scourge of domestic violence.

Carroll's careful handling of the crisis - visiting Hannah's family and frankly apologising for a misstep by the lead investigator - was well received at a time of high emotion.

Her candid comments about the personal shock she felt in learning of the murders gives insight to Carroll's approach to the job.

It was a shock to be repeated last month with the death of Rockhampton mother-of-four Karen Gilliland, who was allegedly stabbed to death by her estranged husband.

Carroll's assessment has been blunt but considered. The domestic violence scourge must be stopped. But importantly she believes the focus should be on early prevention rather than knee-jerk measures.

JIMMY'S GREAT ESCAPE

JUST when we needed a good news story, Jimmy from Gladstone pulls up in his ute.

The tradie found himself in a tight spot last month, when he was pulled over by police doing 123km/h along the Dawson Highway near Calliope.

But far from being disappointed, Jimmy was relieved.

He proceeded to tell the cops his incredible story.

He was speeding to get to the hospital, after a deadly eastern brown snake slithered up through the floor of his ute and started attacking him.

A resourceful Queenslander, Jimmy fought off the snake while bringing the vehicle to a safe stop, before killing the viper with his trusty knife.

At first the cops didn't believe him, until Jimmy showed them the dead snake.

After the ambulance arrived, it was ascertained the snake failed to land a bite on the nimble tradie. A single bite could have been fatal.

So good on you Jimmy. For putting a smile on our faces in tough times

Originally published as Top cop rises to the COVID challenge



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