Blue Army: Paramilitary Policing in Victoria
Melbourne University Press
Publication Date :
1 Jan 1997
We expect the police to stop armed robbers, to arrest drug dealers, to keep the peace at demonstrations and to protect us from crime. Many of us believe that police officers need to carry guns to protect themselves as well as us. But do we want our police forces to become armies? Most of us are shocked when suspects are shot dead by police before they can be tried, and disturbed to see police wearing riot gear and using baton charges at peaceful demonstrations. When police begin using paramilitary tactics, the essential nature of their role is redefined, switching from protection and peacekeeping to active aggression. Some units within our police forces, such as the Special Operations Group, train with the military and use military weapons and tactics. In looking behind the extraordinary number of police shootings in Victoria, Blue Army examines how the Special Operations Group and their tactics-which are passed on to ordinary police-have contributed to the toll. Jude McCulloch's involvement as a lawyer in cases of police shootings led her to detailed investigation of changes to policing in Australia. Blue Army arises from her research into the paramilitarisation of the police. It exposes the risks of allowing Australia's police forces to move away from the key principle of keeping the peace with the use of minimum force. Blue Army is a very disturbing book, and one of great importance.