The Rapid Action and Patrol group has been credited with banishing bikies from the Glitter Strip since the infamous 2013 Broadbeach brawl, but has also weathered criticism from inside and outside police ranks since it became the subject of reality TV show Gold Coast Cops.
Officers were remaining tight-lipped on the latest controversy yesterday, which involved a 29-year-old male senior constable being stood down from official duty amid an investigation into four alleged incidents of excessive force between September 2014 and January this year.
A police source confirmed the officer was part of the 100-member strong RAP squad, but it is not believed he is one of the show’s stars and it is not known if anything was caught on camera.
A statement by Queensland Police yesterday said the move to stand the officer down did not mean the allegations had been substantiated. The man is reportedly on annual leave.
The Bulletin reported last year the squad was subjected to ridicule within the ranks, with social media rants and internal noticeboard signs reading “Kill RAP” making it into the public arena.
Some officers were also annoyed that Network Ten referred to the RAP officers as “elite” and referenced an email to staff asking they “stop teasing RAP”.
Lawyers have also accused the RAP in court of targeting clients to put on a show for television cameras.
Civil liberties crusader Terry O’Gorman said when promoting a particular group as being a “tough guy” squad — excessive force inevitably followed.
“If they’re being promoted as a tough guy squad that’s going to clean up the streets of the Glitter Strip, senior police know from experience the tough guy image goes with excessive force,” he said.
Bond University criminologist Terry Goldsworthy said there was a need to look at each of the alleged incidents individually and for police to show the use of force was justified by law.
Dr Goldsworthy said history had shown when there was a persona of elitism there was the risk of people engaging in inappropriate behaviour if they believed it was for a noble cause, like reducing crime.
“When you create an elite squad there’s a need to keep tight controls,” he said.
He said he hoped the alleged incidents did not involve excessive use of force for the benefit of cameras on the Gold Coast Cops show.