In this week’s episode of The Adelaide Show, we explore the SA Police Security Response Section and discuss its significance in the role of policing.

Our special guest is David Olney, recently of The University of Adelaide, now Senior Analyst at SAGE International Australia, which is an Adelaide based strategic think tank.

We also chat to United Nations peace keeper, Vic Sukacz, a former SA Police officer who is familiar with the weapons and training that SRS officers will be undergoing.

The SA Drink Of The Week is 2015 Cabernet Shiraz by Eight At The Gate Wines in Wrattonbully.

In the Musical Pilgrimage, we hear a new song from J-MILLA.

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Running Sheet: SA Police Security Response Section

00:00:00 Intro

Introduction to the show.

00:03:40 SA Drink Of The Week

2015 Cabernet Shiraz from Eight At The Gate Wines, Wrattonbully. We also have a special offer available at the moment. Go to eightatthegate.com.au and when the sign up form pops up within the first 30 seconds, join the club and get 25% off this ripper of a wine. No kickbacks to us, this is just a straight-up wine bargain!

You’ll get to meet the winemaking team, Claire Davies and Jane Richards.

00:10:37 David Olney

In the words of Commissioner of Police, Grant Stevens, “successful policing requires the support and goodwill of the public, as much as it does the dedication and effort of each police officer and employee.” With the announcement of SAPOL’s new Security Response Section, which features police officers armed with automatic machine guns and extra body armour and technology, the community discussion has frequently brought up sentiments shared by these two commenters:

Sam Powrie: I’m not at all convinced about the need for this or it’s stated value. And I’m not aware that there was any sort of public consultation or fielding of the idea, given the enormous impact it will have – mostly deleterious it seems – on the public’s view of and relationship with SAPOL. I believe it to be a very poorly judged move from which it will be very difficult to step back from.

Isabelle Keane (in response to a SAPOL video saying we should still go up to these militia police to say hi): Im not approaching a cop with a rifle in Elizabeth to ask why they have them.

My personal fear is that this move threatens SAPOL’s long held ability to maintain “the support and goodwill of the public”. The SRS is a far cry from the community policing narrative that many of us grew up on and upon which SA prided itself.

So, I have turned to David Olney, recently of The University of Adelaide, now Senior Analyst at SAGE International Australia, which is an Adelaide based strategic think tank, because he will be able to put this move into perspective in various ways.

I should also point out you can hear David on his own podcast, Blind Insights With David Olney.

And one last thing. I am not here as a lefty or a snowflake or any other type. I am here as a passionate South Aussie who cares for his community and has always had utmost respect for our police. I am also someone who holds opinions in a way that they are always open to change when I discover new evidence. I am completely disappointed that we couldn’t get officials to join this community interview. I really wanted to hear their responses to my earnest questions in an atmosphere of trust. But that is not going to happen.

David, there are a number of strands to this story that I want to unravel tonight.

  • One is whether there are such things as universal expecations of policing held by communities
  • The signficance of upping the lethal weaponry being carried by our police
  • The efficacy of having high profile militarilly armed police in regard to terrorism and violent events, or whether this is what is known as Security Theatre
  • How you wield the sledgehammer of military weapons when dealing with peaceful but protesting citizens
  • And the holes in our ability to hold public discourse on contentious issues in a civil way.

For the record, I approached the SA Police and the minister, Corey Winguard, to join this discussion and both declined.

Gill Hicks was also invited. Gill is the Adelaide woman who lost both her legs and suffered other injuries in the London Terrorist Bombings that happened 15 years ago today in 2005. Unfortunately, she is tied up in anniversary events and other media engagements, including with my ABC colleague, Peter Goers – I shall have words. She has sent some comments, which I’ll share later.

Gill Hicks: My thoughts have turned to the London that I knew ( not so long ago) where 2 police constantly strolled their ‘hood’ and said hello and knew the community – I lived in Kings Cross and always felt safe… I think at a time when people are suffering from the threat of an untreatable deadly virus, of great uncertainty in life / work / finances … the LAST thing the public psyche needs is an added ‘heavy’ addition … it’s not how we live, especially in Australia/ SA … we’ve proven to be very prepared to physically distance and doing the ‘right’ things …

Anonymous: Firstly, it is security theatre and secondly, civilian police shouldn’t have military weapons IMHO. Thirdly, I have been unable to find any empirical evidence that heavily armed police have stopped any terrorist attacks compared to normal police. Examples being London in 2005, Manchester, France, etc. All since 9/11, police haven’t been able to prevent the attacks even with heavy weapons and heightened threat levels. In summary it projects a false sense of security and is part of the tough on crime and terrorism narrative. Money would be better spent on in intel and programs to divert youth away from radicalisation. I’ve already had one argument on FB with one hung go clueless twit. Also heavily armed very professional soldiers in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan couldn’t stop terrorist attacks so the evidence is that it isn’t firepower that works. People watch too many action movies and think that’s how the world works.

Ryan Martin: John i already felt safe with SAPOL around. You didnt need to upgrade your loadouts. Jesus. Whats an assault rifle gonna fix if your going to have to spray a crazy person in a public place?

In relation to public discourse, I have found various uses of straw man ploys and attacking the speaker, instead of a listening and delving into the arguments.
Peter Ross Love: all the keyboard warrior experts on use of force. I bet they also would be happy if Qantas staff did no maintenance on planes until there was a crash to identify a fault? I for one am happy to have better police and equipment any day to deter incidents and criminal behaviour and violent offenders. All the commenters will be crying blue murder if their family were attacked by armed extremists like in London..it will be too late asking for better equipped police when that happens..which for sure one day will. Saying it has never happened so far does not mean it will not. Maybe now there is more deterrent. Now just disband the SAPOL band and put that money into better operational police training and more equipment and ammo to keep up weapons skills.
Attacking the speaker: Keyboard warrior experts
Is that a sound analogy: military grade armed police is the same as Qantas doing maintenance?
Statement: I like police being heavily armed to deter incidents. Is this how it works?
Poor example: Commenters will cry blue murder if a London bombing incident took place. That’s actually a counter argument. The British police DID have extra force but bombers got around them.
Moving the goal posts?: Saying it hasn’t happend does not mean it won’t
New argument: Get rid of SA Police band and use money for more operational training and ammo

01:11:26 Vic Sukacz

We chat to Vic Sukacz, a member of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, who also happens to be a former SAPOL officer and is experienced in the sort of conditions SRS members will be trained to confront.

01:27:27 Musical Pilgrimage

In the musical pilgrimage, we have a song, Unlock The System, by J-MILLA.

Here’s this week’s preview video.

No preview video this week.

SFX: Throughout the podcast we use free sfx from freesfx.co.uk for the harp, the visa stamp, the silent movie music, the stylus, the radio signal sfx, the wine pouring and cork pulling sfx, and the swooshes around Siri.