A former senior Northern Territory police officer has told the Kumanjayi Walker inquest that the force’s failure to adequately investigate excessive use of force complaints was corrupt.

Former assistant commissioner, Nick Anticich, told the coronial inquiry into the shooting death of Walker in 2019 that the failure to adequately investigate alleged incidents in Alice Springs was “wrong and shouldn’t have happened”.

“It’s an abject failure and it’s corrupt,” the now retired veteran policeman said on Tuesday.

Const Zachary Rolfe shot Walker three times during an attempted arrest in Yuendumu, north-west of Alice Springs, in November 2019. Rolfe was found not guilty of murder and two alternative charges after a six-week trial in the NT supreme court in Darwin earlier this year.

Lawyer Phillip Boulten SC said North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency made repeated complaints to NT Police on behalf of Indigenous clients and they were dismissed as “woke-ism” and the officers concerned were exonerated.

Anticich agreed with Boulten that police internal investigations should not be carried out by officers who were “friends or mates” with the accused officer.

“You need to build a police force of integrity, of trust and something the community believes in,” he said.

“The police service needs to be able to have the adequate capability to deal with badness in itself.”

He called for oversight agencies to be strengthened to ensure internal police investigations were robust.

In his evidence, Anticich said the NT police force required a significant cultural change to combat racist attitudes and it would take time to implement.

“Those text messages and communications we saw were abhorrent,” he said.

“It offends me as a police officer to think officers of my profession are involved in such conduct and those people have to go.

“We cannot have them representing the community in a police force that is here to protect the community.”

He said more support was required for officers to enable them to report poor behaviour when they witnessed it.

Anticich said the current system was difficult to access and the NT Police Association often fought against officers trying to report poor behaviour.

Earlier, the assistant commissioner, Martin Dole, told the coroner NT Police had become a different organisation since Rolfe shot Walker three years ago.

Dole said a lack of supervision and discipline led to some officers’ developing racist, sexist, homophobic and anti-management attitudes.

“We are very different police force to we were back then,” he told coroner Elisabeth Armitage.

“Particularly in Alice Springs, we’ve had a complete transition of staffing. There is a completely different management team.”

Dole said many of the lower-ranked staff stationed in Alice Springs in 2019 had moved on, while others who remained that were involved in poor behaviour had been disciplined and mentored.

“There’s been a lot of work in the discipline space in the last three years in calling out those behaviours and dealing with those behaviours in the workplace,” he said.

“I’m confident the superintendents and senior sergeants currently in place across the NT Police Force are aware of their responsibility.”

He said the police executive continued to work with the force to ensure personnel understood its expectations and incidents of poor behaviour were dealt with immediately.

“That’s a personal commitment that I do daily … Ensuring my managers abide by the same standards and call out those behaviours as I do,” he said.

“Unfortunately, there seemed to be a lack of that in the past and that’s not the case, as I see it, presently in the police force.”

The inquest is continuing.



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