Peter Mericka – Commendations

At various times during my police career I received commendations of various kinds, usually verbal but sometimes in writing. While I have received numerous verbal commendations (some involving a formal “appearance” before an officer at District Headquarters or simply a handshake and a congratulations on a job well done by a local commander), the most valuable commendations are those delivered in writing. Here are a few examples:

General Duties – Police Constable

In order to become a Victoria Police Detective a constable was required to demonstrate general diligence, as well as competence in the conduct of own-motion investigations. Written confirmation of suitability was also required from the applicant’s officer in charge. This is the letter of recommendation provided by my Senior Sergeant at the time of my application.

Detective – Criminal Investigation Branch

Commendation at District Level for investigation into an alleged homicide. The deceased was a local drug addict, and his father suspected that he and his criminal associates were “cutting” and packaging heroin in the family home while everyone else was at work. In order to collect evidence of the drug dealing, the father installed a small voice-activated microphone in the kitchen bench, so that it would record any conversations that took place in the kitchen area during the day.

In the evening when the father returned home from work he found his son dead on a lounge chair. After listening to the tape recording and hearing his son and associates discussing drug matters, the father concluded that his son had been murdered by way of a “hot shot” (a dose of pure heroin injected into the victim to deliberately cause death).

So began the longest and most arduous investigation of my policing career. The investigation involved a series of collateral investigations, initiated on the basis of information provided by informers, or rumours circulating within the drug community of Dandenong.

As a result of my investigations it was found that the deceased was not the victim of murder, but of the drug culture as it existed at the time. The State Coroner, Mr. Hal Hallenstein decided, after hearing two weeks’ of evidence, that I should be commended for the standard of my work as an investigator and wrote a formal letter of appreciation to the Deputy Commissioner of Police.

I received a formal commendation worded as follows:

“Detective Senior Constable Mericka, 21776, commended at District level for a painstaking, thorough and difficult investigation inthe preparation and presentation of an Inquest Brief. The efforts of the member reflect great credit on his professionalism and were the subject of high praise from the State Coroner.”

The full commendation report, together with the Coroner’s findings, can be accessed by clicking on the following link: MERICKA, P., Detective Senior Constable – Excellent work performed by same.

[NOTE: What made this commendation particularly satisfying is the fact that detectives are rarely commended for their work. This is because detectives are regarded as an elite group of police, selected on the basis of their aptitude for investigation, and trained to a level that gives them skills beyond those of general duties police. Detectives are expected to consistently deliver results that would earn uniformed police officers a commendation.]

Sergeant – General Duties Supervisor

Commendation by Chief Commissioner of Police for own-motion investigation into an allegation of police brutality. In 1993 I was a Sergeant, in charge of Box Hill Police Station during the afternoon shift when I received a telephone call from Mr. Greg Connellan of the Fitzroy Legal Service. At this time many members of the Victoria Police regarded the Fitzroy Legal Services with suspicion, because of the group’s active role in making complaints about the interaction of police and inner city youth.

Mr. Connellan told me that he had taken an anonymous call from a citizen’s advice service that he was operating, and that the caller had reported the brutal bashing of a young man by police in the Box Hill area. I had spoken with the constables manning the local divisional van a short time before Mr. Connellan had called, and I was able to tell him that the anonymous caller was mistaken about what he had reported. the prisoner in the custody of the divisional van crew had not made any complaint, nor were there any indications of any wrongdoing on the part of police.

However, although I regarded Mr. Conellan’s complaint as unfounded, I decided to initiate an investigation into the handling of the prisoner to ensure that any questions about the conduct of police that evening could be answered.

I received a letter of commendation from the Chief Commissioner a few days later. You can read the details of the incident and the commendation at the following link:

Sergeant P. Mericka 21776 – Commendation by Chief Commissioner of Police for own-motion investigation into an allegation of police brutality

[NOTE: I believe that it was largely as a result of this incident that I received a telephone call from the Chief Superintendent of the Internal Investigations Department, inviting me to apply for promotion to the position of  Advisor in the in the Discipline Advisory Unit of the Internal Investigations Department.]