No slur on police role

AS it was I who, at 15 years old, opened the door to two police officers on March 5, 2010, and I who read the victim impact statement on behalf of my family during the inquest that plagued us for four years, I feel compelled to respond to Steve Weniger’s “Coroner out of line over names” (The Border Mail, March 28).

At no point does Mr Murray criticise the police who came to our door that evening — I know this, I have read the 87 pages of findings and recommendations that finalised the court proceedings.

Where your misinterpretation might have stemmed from is, ironically, through the media. Mr Murray’s recommendations emphasise the media as an inadequate form of notification of death.

What Mr Murray did note was the time frame in which formal notification by police occurred — particularly, the fact that “A young woman has died” was reported on Prime News 1½ hours before that dreaded knock on the door and, more specifically, the fact that the driver’s family had been notified of a death before the immediate family of the deceased.

This is not to say that the police who knocked on my door were not doing their job, but rather, the media was also, in tandem, doing theirs.

Understandably, there is no disregard of the challenges that the media presents to police, as Mr Murray states: “I am cognizant that the commissioner of police clearly does not have the power to restrict the media or social media in this regard.”

However, if, by any chance, the manner in which police notify of death can be amended to eliminate media and social media issues that may arise, it should be amended in the police handbook as, clearly, this is where the jurisdiction of the police resides.

You may also be interested to know the corporate spokesperson for victims supports Mr Murray’s findings: “Perhaps we (the police) should consider providing additional comment in our police handbook under ‘advice to relatives’.”

Thus, I hope this rectifies your concerns regarding the matter. Mr Murray’s findings were not at all, as you suggest, “a slur on the hard-working police”, but rather, a recommendation to the police that, while acknowledging the associated challenges, if an amendment can be made to reduce similar instances that my family incurred regarding the notification of death, to please, make it.

You may remember this day vividly, but I assure you, it will last longer in my memory than in yours.

— BLAIR DUNCAN,

Melbourne

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