Queensland’s criminal watchdog has lost a tribunal application for the dismissal of a regional police officer for misconduct over a 13-month period.
The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), in a recently published decision, revealed Constable Kai Steven Waller was the subject of disciplinary action by Queensland Police Service Acting Deputy Commissioner Tony Wright on 26 September 2019 for a single “matter” of misconduct.
QCAT member Paul Kanowski, in a 14-page ruling, said the officer was disciplined in relation to improper conduct while he was a constable stationed at Roma, 480km west of Brisbane, between 1 November 2017 and 19 December 2017.
The disciplinary actions included a reduction in his salary, a transfer to Ipswich, a requirement to participate in a “first-year constable program” and to report to the Assistant Commissioner of the Ipswich region to discuss the QPS’s expectations of its sworn officers.
Queensland’s Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) disagreed with the sanction imposed and applied to QCAT for a review of the matter, submitting an appropriate penalty was termination of his employment.
“The following particulars of misconduct have not been disputed by Constable Waller,” Mr Kanowski said.
“First, he provided access to his QLITE device to other police at Roma, without authorisation. A QLITE device is an iPad used to access confidential databases such as the police database QPRIME and Queensland Transport’s vehicle registration database. Each device is issued to a particular officer for their exclusive use. This misconduct occurred on various dates across the period in question.
“The second to fourth particulars involve an incident that happened late one night shortly before Christmas in 2016 … (while) Constable Waller was on solo patrol … (and) in performing his official duties.
“Constable Waller used a police vehicle to transport members of the public for an unauthorised purpose … (and) involved giving (a woman identified only as) NFT and a male companion a lift to their homes.
“While (still) on duty, Constable Waller engaged in sexual intercourse with NFT. This occurred after he dropped the male companion home, and then drove NFT to her home.
“The sex occurred on a verandah of NFT’s home … (and) Constable Waller failed to adequately secure his service firearm and accoutrements while on duty. Before having sex with NFT, he removed his trousers and his utility belt which held his firearm, ammunition and taser, and left them nearby.
The tribunal was told on 18 March 2017 he failed to compel NFT to supply a breath sample while performing random breath testing duties.
The CCC submitted that Constable Waller should be dismissed from the QPS, saying his actions displayed a “predilection for favouring his own interests over the interests of the public”.
It also submitted the misconduct was not a single, isolated act and took various forms over a period time.
Mr Kanowski found: “I do not accept the CCC’s submission that the only appropriate sanction is dismissal.
“The sanction imposed by the Acting Deputy Commissioner does sufficiently and appropriately give effect to the statutory purposes of disciplinary action. It denounces the misconduct. It deters future misconduct both by that denunciation and by the financial impact.
“The investigatory and disciplinary process itself has had a salutary effect. The sanction involves guidance and supervision. It is sufficient to maintain public and collegial confidence in the police service because it shows that serious lapses from required standards will have significant consequences.
“The correct and preferable decision on sanction is the decision that was made by the Acting Deputy Commissioner. Accordingly, I will confirm that decision.”
Read the decision.