“WE’RE sick and tired of dealing with drunken idiots.”
That’s the message from NSW Police Association President Scott Weber, who’s fed up with seeing his colleagues treated like punching bags.
Last year in New South Wales alone, more than 2200 assaults were directly linked to alcohol.
To put this in context, that’s 58 per cent of all non-domestic violence-related assaults.
The whole ugly mess affects more than just the victims, their friends and families. Far too often the very emergency workers we trust to step in when things go wrong are the ones on the receiving end.
In 2008, West Australian constable Matthew Butcher was just doing his job, trying to break up a fight in Perth, when he was floored by a flying headbutt.
It left him with permanent brain damage and paralysis. A life shattered.
Mr Weber said every police officer accepted a level of risk when they signed up for duty. What they did not expect was to risk their lives dealing with violent drunks.
For him, enough is enough.
“Police officers are attacked left, right and centre,” he told news.com.au. “They’re the victims of vicious, cowardly attacks – hits from the side, hits from the back, a glassing to the face.
“We want to deal with major issues and not deal with drunken idiots night after night after night.”
Just a few weeks ago a police officer was assaulted with a wine glass in Sydney. But this is the kind of incident that can become the exception rather than the rule with a few changes.
These start with licensing laws, Mr Weber said. “A police officer in uniform sticks out and we’re seeing them attacked by people and being involved in violent brawls,” he said.
“All police officers want is for people to go out and a have a safe night and not to go home in the back of a paddy wagon or an ambulance.”
Superintendent Pat Paroz, Commander of the Drug and Alcohol Coordination for the NSW Police, agrees alcohol is the number one problem in dealing with violence.
“Alcohol is a linking factor in over 50 per cent of the jobs that we do,” Supt Paroz told news.com.au. “It’s fair to say it’s a significant factor.
“Young people need to get their head around that alcohol affects their judgment. They won’t make the same sorts of decisions. They’re sometimes making decisions that can influence the rest of their lives.”
He said the most important thing to do when planning a night out is to make a commitment to your mates to steer clear of trouble.
“Say: ‘If someone confronts us, how are we going to deal with it? Let’s walk away – let’s walk away together’. Do the right thing and walk away. Don’t get into confrontation.”