Don’t turn on police, says NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb

In the interview, Weber described the Cooma incident as isolated, unique and not representative of the way police “behave on a daily basis.”

“I hope the community remembers all the good things the police do every day and doesn’t see this as an opportunity to attack the police,” she said.


She understands the public has questions about why Nolan, who was carrying a steak knife and using a walking frame, used a stun gun, but “if we don’t follow the procedure, then there could be a miscalculation here”.

Webb supports the use of Tasers, despite concerns that they contribute to the “lazy cop” syndrome, where officers resort to them too easily. “I believe the use of guns has decreased because Tasers are available, so potentially lives are saved,” she said.

Asked whether the investigation had taken longer because the alleged perpetrator was a police officer, Weber replied: “We’re doing this investigation like any other we’re doing in this case. Same.”

The LECC released a report this week raising concerns about police mental health training, saying it was “currently extremely limited”. Webb said she was also concerned about police being called to a private medical facility for a problem its staff couldn’t resolve.

“It’s their core business, it’s not the core business of the police, but we were called there,” Weber said. “People with dementia do require special care, attention and understanding.”

The commissioner’s own mother has advanced dementia.

Patrick Sadie, former commissioner of the LECC, responded Thursday criticizing a woman whose brother died After being tasered a dozen times, when he expressed doubts, “would anyone well-informed think it was appropriate for the police to conduct a self-investigation”.

Sadie left the body after complaining to a higher commissioner.

“There are too many failures in such a system,” Sadie said. “The effectiveness of the current system can be seen in issues such as the number of police officers who are actually charged with unlawful use of force.”

NSW Police Officer Ryan Barlow has been found guilty of assault after knocking an Aboriginal teenager unconscious with a leg sweep.

NSW Police Officer Ryan Barlow has been found guilty of assault after knocking an Aboriginal teenager unconscious with a leg sweep.Credit: Kate Glady

On Wednesday, the LECC issued a rare statement in response to suggestions it should take over the Cooma investigation, saying it could only launch its own investigation if asked to do so by the police commissioner, which did not happen.

Weber said police were wary of conflicts of interest when they investigated the police and disagreed that the LECC was restricted.

Asked if she would investigate further with the LECC, Weber said no.

“The LECC does have quite a lot of power,” she said. “They already have a lot of power, and they use it a lot. There’s been pretty strong and severe oversight.”

Major incident investigations have involved police from further afield, Weber said. Homicide detectives were involved in this case, but officers from Kumar and Queanbeyan were not.

“We’re very acutely aware of being as objective as possible in this organization,” she said.

Redfern Legal Center will attend Thursday’s LECC hearing involving the 14-year-old Aboriginal boy. Senior barrister Samantha Lee said the illegal use of police force was of great public concern.

“NSW Police must be subject to greater scrutiny and oversight on this issue,” she said. “With so much power in the police force, oversight, transparency and accountability are critical, not only for the benefit of the community, but also for the police.”

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