Queensland police can apply to take their guns home if they fear they could be targeted by terrorists.
Queensland police concerned about being a terrorism target could be allowed to take their firearms home from work under new safety measures announced by the state’s commissioner.
Concerns have risen among police ranks after an 18-year-old terror suspect was shot dead after stabbing two officers outside a Victorian police station on Tuesday night.
Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart says extra Islamic police liaison officers would be hired and more police would be on patrol, particularly around mosques.
There would also be an effort to protect vulnerable officers, like those who work alone or at the front desk of police stations, he said.
The changes will be funded by a $1.5 million boost from the Queensland Government.
Mr Stewart said police could also apply for permission to take their guns home with them, a rare occurrence.
“If the risk is there, we’ll be very sympathetic to requests,” Mr Stewart told reporters in Brisbane.
Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers, who stood beside Mr Stewart in show of solidarity on Wednesday, said he was urging the commissioner to make more personal body armour available for officers and have adequate protection for when they are most vulnerable, like travelling to and from work on public transport.
Both Mr Leavers and Mr Stewart said they had been in regular talks with the Muslim community to reiterate that they were not being targeted by officers and would be protected like other citizens.
Mr Stewart said extra patrols at mosques were for the worshippers’ own safety.
“Whilst it is our strong view that this is not religiously-based or culturally-based, the perception may be in some quarters that the Muslim community have some ties to the perpetrators of some of these crimes,” Mr Stewart said.
The commissioner said he sent a state-wide briefing to officers overnight after the Victorian incident to reinforce the need to be alert for suspicious activity.
Part of Brisbane’s CBD was closed down on Wednesday afternoon when a suspicious suitcase was found at a bank, but after police investigated, it was given the all clear.
The biggest test for Queensland police following the crackdown will come during Riverfire celebrations on Saturday night, when thousands of Brisbane residents will line the banks of the city’s river to watch a fireworks display.
Mr Stewart urged residents to still go out and enjoy the event, but remain vigilant.
“If we don’t do that, then in reality the criminals win,” he said.