Today, the collective heart of the nation’s police is broken and, right now, it feels broken beyond repair.
A shooting incident on a Bordertown property at 11:20 last night has left one of our members, Jason Doig, dead and another, Michael Hutchinson, with gunshot wounds.
An armed 26-year-old man confronted police who returned fire. That man sustained life-threatening injuries and remains under police guard in Adelaide.
In policing, we are a family, and we’ve lost a brother so, today, we’re a family in shock, in pain, and in grief.
This horror is what all of us in policing live in fear of – it is our dread, that one of us, or one of our workmates, has his or her life taken.
And for what? For someone to further a crime? To escape justice? To fulfil a misguided hatred?
Never should a police officer – committed to his duty, his colleagues, and his community – die in circumstances like these.
Even though we understand the realities of our work, we hope against hope that a loss like this will never happen. But it does happen, as it did last night.
And now is when we search, desperately, for understanding, for explanation and, most important, for solace, be it through solitude, an embrace, or just reflection on the life lost.
We know that words just don’t cut it. They just don’t assuage anyone’s pain, not the excruciating pain of a loss like this, one which has robbed us of a son, a brother, a friend, and a workmate we all wanted with us for years into the future.
A man whose company, wisdom, integrity, and expertise we valued and drew on, because he gave them so freely.
We are gutted and hurting, as an organization and as individuals.
But now, we have a duty, and that is to Jason’s family and friends, who likely see nothing but the bleakness of loss in their immediate future.
It’s not enough to just have them in our thoughts, or just say we have them in our thoughts.
In whatever meaningful, practical way we can help them fight their way through their crushing grief, we’ll do it.
In whatever way we can help them emerge and carry on, as Jason would have wanted them to, we’ll do it.
And in whatever way we can bring comfort to the other suffering family, the police family, we’ll do that too.
Our full support extends, as well, to Michael Hutchinson and Rebekah Cass and their families. Michael, who is expected to recover, is receiving treatment in Flinders Medical Centre. Association staff will keep permanent watch on his and Rebekah’s progress.
We are in constant contact, and working, with Commissioner Grant Stevens and Deputy Commissioner Linda Williams to provide all possible information and support to Jason’s family, workmates, and the broader membership.
We are also in contact with SA Police Legacy president Jodi-Lee Black. She too has committed to provide support through Legacy.
The Police Association represented Jason in life, and we along with his family and workmates and, I hope, the community, will honour him in death.
And I make crystal clear our intention, as police and as a union, not to allow Jason or his family to be cheated of a scintilla of the justice they’re determined to be owed.
MARK CARROLL APM