In 1982 I was a young Constable of Police, stationed at a busy inner suburban police station. Until this particular day I had not directly experienced anything that I would categorise as corrupt conduct, but when I was asked to avoid charging a local cop-friendly panel beater, I knew exactly what I was dealing with. What I didn’t know about was the impact seemingly low-level corruption can have on a whistleblower, and the lasting effects that can follow.
It was the early 1980′s, and I had recently been appointed to a busy inner suburban police station. I was working at the watch-house counter when two Vietnamese men came into the police station. (At this time the police force was a man’s world, and a white man’s world at that. Racism was common, and the police station where I worked had a very large Vietnamese community. Suffice it to say that the relationship between police and the Vietnamese community was not as good as it should have been.)
The two men had minor injuries and, with the aid of a telephone interpreting service, they explained what had happened to them. They had been involved in a minor car accident, and happened to be in front of a panel shop owned by the driver of the other car. The panel shop owner invited the two men into his workshop, then closed the door behind them and demanded that they pay for the damage to his car. The panel shop owner assaulted the two men, and they had come to the police station to report the matter.