Seems some more massive payouts are on the way, the Victorian Police in crisis again at the top end. Overland might go into politics, he excels as a spin doctor…
UPDATE 11.13am 09/05/11 : POLICE Chief Commissioner Simon Overland has admitted there is an “air of crisis” in Victoria’s police force.
But he refused to concede he had lost the backing of rank and file officers, the government or the public.
The top cop appeared uncomfortable and refused to answer questions over his leadership in an interview this morning.
The embattled police chief continued to deny his position was in jeopardy after a horror run for Victoria Police and maintained he had every right to extend Sir Ken Jones’ leave, despite claiming he had asked his deputy to stay after Sir Ken said he was considering leaving in October last year.
“He made a decision to resign… he told me last Monday that he was going to resign, I have spent that intervening period time trying to persuade him to stay,” Mr Overland told 3AW.
“I had no intention of sacking Sir Ken Jones, and I can’t sack Sir Ken Jones, and I haven’t sacked Sir Ken Jones.
“I had no intention of humiliating Sir Ken Jones. He had resigned; he had decided to leave the organisation. In effect what I have done is I brought that leave forward.”
Mr Overland denied a meeting between Police Minister Peter Ryan and the Coalition Government cabinet this morning would discuss him or his position.
“I believe I have the confidence of some, and I won’t have the confidence of others,” he said.
A DEFIANT Simon Overland claims he never sacked his deputy, but simply forced him to take “leave”.
Speaking to the media this morning, Victoria’s said it was Ken Jones’s decision to leave his post on Friday.
He said his former deputy’s leave would continue until August.
Speaking to a large contingent of assembled media late this morning, Overland claimed unnamed senior officers had sought Jones’s sacking.
But he refused to detail any discussions with the Premier Ted Baillieu, or with Police Minister and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan, after being called in to explain why ties were being cut with his former right-hand man.
Earlier this morning, Mr Overland announced an unscheduled media conference at the Victoria Police Centre, to discuss the police crisis.
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- Overland asked to explain Jones sacking The Australian, 15 hours ago
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Yesterday, a casually dressed Mr Overland spent more than an hour locked in crisis talks in the Premier’s city office.
But the top cop remained defiant as he left the meeting at 5.15pm, with a spokeswoman saying he had not resigned and did not intend to resign.
The crisis talks came as a furious backlash erupted over Mr Overland’s decision to axe retiring Deputy Commissioner Sir Ken Jones and order him from police headquarters.
The implosion within Victoria Police command has sparked the first major crisis of the five-month-old State Government and led to Mr Overland being hauled in by Mr Baillieu along with Deputy Premier and Police Minister Peter Ryan.
When the Sunday Herald Sun asked a senior Government insider if Mr Overland continued to have the Premier’s support, they said: “No comment, I can’t comment”.
In a further blow to the Chief Commissioner, the Police Association will convene a meeting tomorrow to move a motion of no-confidence against Mr Overland.
And hundreds of rank-and-file officers are planning sickies this week to further undermine Mr Overland’s authority.
The embattled Chief Commissioner was ordered to the Premier’s office at 4pm – about the time Mr Baillieu issued a statement saying he found out about Sir Ken’s removal after the fact.
“I was advised of the developments relating to Sir Ken Jones by the Office of the Minister for Police, subsequent to the Chief Commissioner’s actions,” Mr Baillieu said in the statement.
Mr Baillieu revealed he had sought legal advice from two sources about Sir Ken’s departure and to see if Mr Overland had over-extended his authority by not seeking permission to axe his deputy.
“On Friday evening I directed the Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet to make certain inquiries and provide me with advice,” Mr Baillieu said.
“I have now sought additional legal advice from the Solicitor General.”
No official comment was made by Mr Baillieu or Mr Ryan after the meeting.
As well as top-level political pressure, Mr Overland is also facing a mutiny from grass-roots officers who want him removed from his job.
“Victoria Police is in freefall and things simply cannot be allowed to go on as they are,” Police Association secretary Greg Davies said.
“There is a very high feeling running through the force right now. The switchboard has been red-hot, our email is in meltdown and we have had direct contact with many members who are crystal clear that they want Sir Ken to stay and Mr Overland to go.”
Snr-Sgt Davies said the executive committee of the union will meet tomorrow and discuss whether to pass a motion of no confidence.
Consideration is also being given to a potential motion calling for a royal commission into Mr Overland’s two-year reign.
“We will not jump into anything feet first. We’ll make a thoughtful and measured decision and then poll our members and be guided by what they want,” Sen-Sgt Davies said.
He accused the Chief Commissioner of thumbing his nose at the Government.
“Deputy Commissioners are a Governor-in-Council appointment, they are employed by the Crown and although he might like to, Simon Overland does not yet wear a crown,” Sen-Sgt Davies said.
“Proper protocol would be to seek permission. Simon Overland has thumbed his nose at the State Government, Victoria Police and people of Victoria generally – and it’s time the Government finally took action.”
Mr Overland has refused to make any comment or answer media questions.
Hundreds of officers are this week planning a “blue flu”, an organised campaign where police call in sick to disrupt normal operations.
The move is designed as a protest at Sir Ken’s treatment and to force the Government to act against the police chief.
“The entire morning shift throughout Victoria Police will ring in sick and then the afternoon shift will do the same,” a source said.
Sen-Sgt Davies said he was not surprised.
“Morale no longer exists in the police force and our members will quite rightly be thinking that if a Chief Commissioner can treat his deputy in such an appalling manner, what chance do I have as a constable or sergeant?” Sen-Sgt Davies said.
And in a further blow, 87 per cent of more than 1500 voters in a Herald Sun online poll said they would prefer Sir Ken to be Chief Commissioner over Mr Overland.
Sen-Sgt Davies said he had “conveyed the Police Association’s view” to Mr Ryan, and now called for the minister to either back or sack Mr Overland.
“In the next 24 hours we can all sit on our hands and watch the police force disintegrate in front of us, or the people responsible for it can step up to the plate and do something about trying to retrieve the patient before it dies on the table,” he said.
A police source said Sir Ken was upset by his treatment.
“I have spoken to Sir Ken briefly and he is stunned and shocked but says he wants to stay in Victoria,” the source said.
“I am sure there are companies lining up at his door to offer him several times more money than what he was on.
“He was called into a meeting and told he was being directed to take leave. He was then told to clear his desk and go. It appears this was a petty act. Even those close to Simon Overland are amazed at his actions.”