ROAD rules are preventing Northern Territory Police from implementing a Coroner’s recommendation to train officers in mock high-speed pursuits.
Thirteen months ago Coroner Greg Cavanagh suggested NT Police conduct “practical mock pursuit training” for its officers in his findings into the death of six people during a police pursuit outside of Alice Springs in 2007.
Police are exempt from speed limits if undertaking official duties.
“The legal opinion is we are not in the execution of our duty if we are training,” Commander Chalker said.
Coroner Cavanagh first recommended mock pursuit training for NT Police after an inquest into the death of Damien Wayne in 2005. Only eight NT police officers have since had the training.
“It’s not a case of NT Police saying we want high-speed pursuit training,” Commander Chalker said.
“What we are saying is we need to identify if we don’t have legal coverage, how do we get that?”
The Department of Lands and Planning said it was investigating with NT Police if the law needed to be changed to “allow pursuit training to be undertaken on NT roads”.
For mock pursuits to be realistic, they would be conducted on open and suburban roads posing a danger to the public.
Commander Chalker said the training could present too high a risk to the public.
“We might say mock pursuits are just not a palatable option,” he said.
The NT police investigation also exposed faults in police recruit driver training. Current laws prevent officers under training from breaking the speed limit.
“If we can’t train our new recruits in urgent duty driving we can’t automatically jump into conducting mock pursuits,” Commander Chalker said.
But acting Commander Jamie Chalker said the NT Solicitor-General advised police Australian road rules prevented officers driving on public roads above the speed limit for training purposes.