Police have confirmed that the police officer who crashed into a woman’s car at Cronulla this month was travelling at a speed of 124 km/hr in a 70km/hr zone, without flashing lights or sirens.
Mrs Vieira’s car collided with a police vehicle who was pursuing another driver on their mobile phone, at the intersection of The Kingsway and Connels Road on September 5. She remains in St George Hospital.
At a press conference on Friday, Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy said police were taking the crash very seriously and his thoughts go out to the family, who spoke out about the incident for the first time on Thursday.
“We have a critical investigations team under a very experienced inspector investigating this terrible case,” he said.
“It is a very complicated crash we are dealing with a whole range of technologies...we are still going through the details. So far we’ve taken 12 statements off people and we have three to go to make sure we have all the information that’s available to us before we conclude the investigation.
“We have downloaded the in-car video and looked at and called for dashcam footage from other cars in the area. We’ve also gone as far as looking at automatic number plate recognition to identify cars that were around when this crash occurred so we can speak to them as well. We are pulling out all stops to make sure we have an open and transparent process."
He says the officer has not been ‘fully interviewed’ but says police are examining ‘reasonables’ around risk assessment.
“There’s been a lot of commentary in the past week about police pursuits and I want to clarify issues around safe driver policy,” he said.
“NSW Police has a very stringent policy. It is there to make it safe for members of the community and for police performing their duty.
“We have the unenviable task of having to make decision at any time of the night and day in relation to stopping motor vehicles in what is inherently a dangerous practice.
“There has been confusion round what it urgent duty and what are pursuits. There’s normal practice where we need to comply with the law when going about our normal duties. Urgent duty is the same as ambulance or fire brigade, when we need to get somewhere quickly.
“We have the exception under the Transport Act to speed and go through traffic lights to catch up with speeding motorists, or people doing the wrong thing.
“Included in this policy is the ability to catch up. In certain circumstances – and this happens all the time – we do radar or catch people on their mobile phones, some police are allowed to proceed without lights or sirens, based on risk.
In certain circumstances...some police are allowed to proceed without lights or sirens, based on risk.Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy
“Pursuits are the most dangerous thing we do. It is the driver’s decision, not police, to instigate those pursuits of their own accord when they evade police. In most cases if the pursuit gets dangerous the driver will terminate. In other circumstances it can be terminated by radio supervisors or inspectors.”
He says the safe driver policy is constantly reviewed.
“I think it is one of the most strict in the world,” he said.
“We don’t shy away from our decision to pursue people who are conducting criminals acts and we will continue to do so.”
But he said the incident was ‘regrettable’.
“We are available to the family if they wish to speak to us about their concerns or would like to ask questions,” he said.
“Police officers do not wake up in the morning thinking they’re going to be involved in crashes.
“We don’t want this to happen – we want the community to be safe.
“We also need to balance this up with our needs to pursue criminals and catch people who are doing the wrong thing. That includes serious traffic offences and we have to take these people off the road.”