Union wants answers for cop suspended without pay

THE police union says a Mackay constable who was stood down from duty for allegedly doing a favour to a hit and run driver is being treated unfairly.

The officer, Constable Christopher O'Keefe, was suspended last year without pay after he allegedly charged a driver with a less serious offence after a car crash.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said Mr O'Keefe had suffered emotionally and financially.

He also said it was unfair that Mr O'Keefe's employer - the Queensland Police Service - would not tell him why his suspension could not be lifted.

Mr Leavers said the union was concerned this was a misuse of power.

The Queensland Police Service did not wish to comment.

Along with a suspension, Mr O'Keefe was also charged with a criminal offence of misconduct over his work on the car accident.

This criminal charge was dropped and Mr O'Keefe, and his legal representation from the union, asked the police commissioner if his suspension without pay could be lifted.

But this was refused.

Mr Leavers said they asked the state's police body to explain why but this request was also refused.

Now the police service is applying to the court, asking a judge to determine that the service is not obligated to provide reasons why it stands down or suspends officers, court documents have shown.

Mr Leavers said it was wrong that a person could be stood down or suspended from duty without being given sufficient reasons.

The union has asked for reasons in five current cases where an officer has been stood down.

"Traditionally stand down and suspension action was kept for serious allegations that if proven would warrant consideration of terminating an officer's employment," Mr Leavers said.

But he said the union was concerned with the Commissioner's recent "overuse of these very significant powers".

- APN NEWSDESK



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