One man died while in police custody, and while drunk …

Comment on Briscoe inquest: Alcohol’s ‘flotsam and jetsam’ forever a burden on police? by Hal Duell.

One man died while in police custody, and while drunk to the extent of being 7 (?) times over the legal limit. In this specific case, two parties share responsibility: The NT Police and the man’s family.
The first because on the night a man died, he was in custody and under the care of the police. There’s no getting around that responsibility.
The second because for 32 years (I’ve also read 27), the deceased was under the care of his family, and somehow his life was allowed to deteriorate to the point where he drank himself to death. There is no getting around that responsibility, either.
Away from the specifics of this tragedy, two points stand out.
There can be no doubt that the NT Police deserve the highest commendation for professional restraint in the face of constant alcohol-fuelled aggression. The wonder is not that this happened, but that it doesn’t happen regularly.
Also, it boggles the mind that there can be a politician on either a local or Territory level not advocating for at least one day a week with no take-away grog sales.
I hope the bereaved family does not sue the NT Police. If they do, I wonder how the police would fare lodging a countersuit naming the family as equally responsible.
I also hope there is an immediate and independent inquiry into alcohol sales and restrictions in the NT. Without turning down the tap we are asking the impossible of the police.
But until that happens, let the police maintain their presence around the alcohol outlets in Alice Springs and continue to patrol known drinking spots. Let them continue to tip out illegally held grog and continue to take off the streets those who threaten safe urban life.
And let us continue to support and respect the NT Police. Can you imagine life in Alice without them?

Hal Duell Also Commented

Briscoe inquest: Alcohol’s ‘flotsam and jetsam’ forever a burden on police?
We have a highly trained and well paid police force operating in the NT. And what do we ask them to do? We ask them to babysit cranky, sloppy drunks, drunks who are often so far gone in their alcoholic stupors that they foul themselves as they stumble down the street.
What those taken into protective custody make of the holding cells doesn’t bear thinking about. And when a member of the police in a once-in-a-blue-moon moment turns his or her back in disgust, and someone dies from alcoholic poisoning while in custody, we turn on the police instead of addressing our own failure.
No one chases death in a bottle in isolation. No one gets to the point that they can return a blood alcohol level seven times the legal limit without prior form. And if the families and the peer groups and the community at large cannot prevent the slow suicide of chronic alcoholism, it is unrealistic and escapist to blame the police when the inevitable happens.
Yes, hold the police to account and insist that they accept responsibility for their actions and inactions. But equally, hold the public to account and insist that they also accept responsibility for their actions and inaction.
To do any less is simply dishonest.
We are all responsible for Kumanji Briscoe’s death.


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