Father of former cop speaks out
THE Rockhampton father of a former Queensland police officer has spoken out in support of Commissioner Bob Atkinson.
In the wake of Steven Isles’ state-wide campaign petitioning Bob Atkinson to stand down, Vince Pheely spoke to The Morning Bulletin about how the Commissioner was there for his son in his darkest hour.
Andrew joined the force in 1984 at just 17 where he served before resigning in 2001.
As sergeant-in-charge of the Redcliffe dog squad, Vince described his son as somebody who liked to get involved.
“He had to be out there chasing the criminals, not sitting behind a desk hoping they would come to him,” Vince said.
During the 17 years Andrew devoted to the force, he earned five bravery awards and was often involved in life-threatening situations.
Vince said that it was because of these taxing confrontations that Andrew began to question his career and eventually requested leave to re-evaluate his priorities.
“During the six months Andrew was on stress-leave, not one single senior police officer called or contacted him to enquire how he was.
“As a proud dad, I thought that wasn’t good enough.”
Vince said he took matters into his own hands and contacted State Member for Rockhampton, Robert Schwarten, to detail his dissatisfaction over the lack of concern shown by Queensland Police.
“Andrew wanted to give it all away.”
Vince said that Mr Schwarten rang the police minister and relayed the complaint.
As a former ABC sports presenter of 26 years, Vince has compered countless charity events and fundraisers in the Central Queensland region.
It was at a fundraising night, in honour of Senior Constable Norman Watt who had been shot and killed during a domestic violence incident near Rockhampton, that Vince met Commissioner Atkinson.
“I found him absolutely genuine,” Vince recalled.
It was after this evening that the police minister called the commissioner to discuss Andrew’s case, Vince said.
“Bob called me straight back; the man was absolutely dismayed that he didn’t know what had happened to Andrew.
“He has over 10,000 police officers under him; I told him that I didn’t expect him to know the ins and outs of what every one of them was doing.”
Vince told The Morning Bulletin that the Commissioner and his partner Glenda, went “on their own time” to Andrew’s house and spent over three hours talking through his options.
“He did everything humanly possible to save my son’s career,” Vince said.
“He offered him a job at the police academy training officers, he offered him a job at his office, he offered him anything he thought Andrew could handle.
“He recognised that Andrew was a valuable asset to Queensland Police Service and said that he could not afford to lose a police officer of Andrew’s calibre.”
When asked about his reaction to Mr Isles’s campaign to change the “bullying” culture in the service, Vince said he had only ever witnessed the opposite.
“I saw nothing but camaraderie when Andrew was part of the dog squad,” Vince said.
Mr Isles is driven by the disappearance of his father, 58-year-old veteran police officer Mick Isles.
Senior Sergeant Isles was cleared of suspicion of drugs trafficking and money laundering, but vanished two days after returning to work on September 23.