How many lives have police saved by attending domestic violence incidents?
How many lives have police saved by attending domestic violence incidents? Cade Mooney

How many lives have police saved dealing with domestics?

"THREE fatal shootings by Queensland Police in the past week," the headlines have been shouting at us.

That's a terrible outcome none of us want to see.

But in all of the talk about police training and whether or not all our police officers are too trigger-happy at the moment, there seems to be something getting lost in the debate.

A question no-one seems to be asking is this: "Were the lives of other potential victims involved in these incidents spared as a result of police intervening?"

Obviously not all of the fatal shooting incidents police attended in the past week were related to domestic situations, but the past two were.

And in both of those situations, police were called because it was alleged there were emotional men, armed either with a knife or some other sort of dangerous weapon, who were behaving in a highly threatening way.

Police shot and killed a 51 year old man on Outlook Drive at Tewantin after the man allegedly had a weapon.
Police shot and killed a 51 year old man on Outlook Drive at Tewantin after the man allegedly had a weapon. Cade Mooney

So threatening, in fact, that it is alleged each of the men in the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast incidents made a lunge for police in a way that made the officers believe their lives were in danger and led them to fire their weapons.

I am not for a moment suggesting police should be sanctioned to use their weapons as a first line of defence, but nor do I think people believe this is really the case.

None of us who has not been in that situation can say how we would respond when given a split second to react to a highly volatile confrontation.

But beyond that human response to a potentially life-threatening situation, let's just take a step back and look at the nature of the incidents themselves.

This is not the place to decide what happened - that will be determined by subsequent investigations and court hearings - but there would seem to be little doubt that in both weekend incidents, there were family members of these men who were frightened for their lives.

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In the Tewantin incident, they had fled the house as the 51-year-old man went on a rampage smashing up cars in the street.

It is probably timely to remind people today is White Ribbon Day, the awareness day for the nationwide campaign that aims to stop violence against women.

It is also no coincidence that APN Australian Regional Media, has been running the Hands Off anti-violence campaign in an effort to put this issue back into the public consciousness and back on the policy agenda. 

Many of us probably know by now that women are killed every week in Australia by their current or formers partners. In some cases, children are victims of the same domestic crimes.

We know these statistics, but apparently we're not troubled enough by them to do much.

Certainly while governments express their concerns about the rates of domestic violence around the country, in reality very little has been done from a policy point of view to seriously address it.

If four women across the state or country had been killed in separate incidents, I don't doubt they would have received media coverage.

People would have been shocked and soon after forgotten about it.

The TWU NSW pledge for White Ribbon Day. Photo Contributed
The TWU NSW pledge for White Ribbon Day. Photo Contributed Contributed

 

But I'll be willing to bet there would not have been calls for wide-reaching inquiries or a rethink of policy, as there have been when police have shot dead a number of potentially dangerous men in emotion-charged situations.

Yes, there is a domestic violence taskforce being headed by former Governor-General Quentin Bryce, which has been asked by the Queensland Government to report back to it, conveniently before the next election is due.

But it remains to be seen what this actually achieves when it comes to crunch time, which will be after the election result has been decided.

Once again, I am not condoning the use of deadly force without a good reason, and there is no good outcome for anyone - victims, families, the officers themselves - when police fatally shoot members of the public.

But let's remember these were not random shootings. And let's remember the outcomes could have been very different for the families and loved ones of these men.



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