7th July 2022
The announcement by the Chief Commissioner of a new task force, Viper, to tackle outlaw motor-cycle gangs had a familiar ring but hopefully a better outcome than a previous attempt.
Even so, some similarities are a worry.
In 2013 Chief Commissioner Ken Lay announced, under the headline
TOP COP’S WARNS OUTLAW BIKIES, ‘WE HAVE A GANG TOO’
Lay announced that a ‘hard-nosed investigator Superintendent Brett Guerin was to take over the Razon Task Force, “Take on the Bikies”.
Targeting the Night Club industry, the only reference we could find was that Task Force charged three Bikies with selling Alcohol without a license.
It was reported that Superintendent Guerin is a man with an engaging laugh and a quick wit. Mr Lay has identified him as the right man for the job.
The lilt of one’s laughter and wit seem strange attributes for a Bikie gangbuster.
Lay failed to say or had not found out that Guerin was the infamous Vernon Demerest and Clive Howlett- Jones, two of the most infamous foul-mouthed nom de plume racist trolls who could best be described as extreme right-wing fascists on social media—allegedly using police computers to troll.
The head of the Professional Standards Command, as an Assistant Commissioner, his career ended abruptly when he was exposed as a troll.
The similarities with Viper, however, do not relate to the character of the police in charge but the comparison of the Government actions for both Razon and Viper.
The Legislation does not match the Bikie creed of extreme violence to achieve their objectives, so being unable to deal with the Bikies in the traditional way aTask Force would seem the only alternative.
To cover the Governments’ failings to legislate enabling powers for police, here we are nine years after Razon, faced with the same issues and the same Government without lessons learned.
We fear the problem will be just as bad in another decade, and Viper will not have been the magic bullet the politicians hoped would avoid them having to do their job.
Sometimes we wonder if our community leaders are ‘in awe’, ‘infatuated’ or ‘afraid’ of the Bikie culture, making them unprepared to tackle it.
It is ironic that the drugs that swill through the Safe Injecting Rooms are most probably sourced via the Bikie Gang networks, make of that as you will.
The Government again resists to tackle the issue properly, and as in 2013, it will all be left to the police to try to resolve with one hand tied behind their back. And if they fail, guess whose fault it will be – the Poilce?
If the Government and community leaders are serious, the Legislation in America called Rico-Law enacted in 1970 would be a good template to start. It is very successful in combating organised crime, which regular Legislation fails to do.
Those Lawmakers understood the tentacles of organised crime, which this law addresses and is not available in traditional Legislation.
The exodus of bikies and organised crime from Interstate to Victoria was not solely because of the efforts of interstate Police or any lack of effort by Victorian Police. It was the Legislation, or lack thereof, in Victoria.
One question we ponder, is we have been sold the value of the Echo Task Force that has existed for some time as an anti-bikie operation; why do we need another Task Force?
This Government failure will cost us.
This Government inaction has taken eighty police from the front line protecting us to focus on a problem that the Government, it seems, is not at all interested in resolving.
It is simply not good enough to take any police from the frontline, General Duties and the Road policing areas in particular, as they are already under-resourced dramatically, this directly and adversely impacts us.
When you call the police, and they do not come, or the road toll soars, you will know why.
Crime will always escalate when the Policing function at the grassroots is compromised.
Perhaps some may be replaced, but that will inevitably by recruits, in the fullness of time, a euphemism for ‘maybe whenever’.
These newbies will not have the mentoring of more senior and experienced peers to learn from to keep us safe and, just as importantly, keep them safe in a dangerous occupation – the experienced are all in the Task Forces.
This bikie culture is attractive to those inclined, so why do we immortalise them when in reality, they are predominantly Middle Eastern Crime gangs and Crime families, in part using the Bikie culture as a front for extortion and protection. The Bikie image built by the media serves them well in the extortion rackets.
It would be helpful if the media took some responsibility.
It is time to provide the horsepower for policing at both ends, starving these organisations of their most valuable resource, members, by focusing on the feeder youth and targeting the support mechanisms organised crime relies on with Rico-Law.
For the feeder youths, where diversion does not work, incarceration for a period when they are young may avert their direction in life.
We all abhor the idea of incarcerating young people and the argument that it is counter-intuitive to acceptable social norms we would like to support.
Based, however, on lived experiences, this does not always work.
The solution is yet to be found, but nobody is seriously looking, least of all our community leaders.
This issue must be pragmatically examined as a matter of urgency, or in a few years, another Task Force to deal with a problem that police have not been able to resolve for a decade will be created.
The first step is for the Government to take responsibility and ownership of the problem- then do something about it.