We cop it sweet
Somali Community of Victoria president Abdirahman Osman said relations between Flemington police and the Somali community had improved in the past 18 months.
â€œThere was a time (from 2006 to 2008) when children, mostly boys 13 to 17 were making mistakes, fighting each other and disrespecting police,â€ Mr Osman said. â€œThere are no problems with the police and the Somali community now.
â€œNo parent has come to me to complain that their children have been abused by police.â€
The comments follow last weekâ€™s release of a joint community legal centre report into alleged police harassment of African youths by Flemington, Braybrook and Dandenong police. Mr Osman said police had â€œtried to make friendsâ€ with Somali residents ever since Melbourneâ€™s African leaders met senior Victoria Police officers in 2008 in a bid to resolve tensions between police and young African residents.
Former Moonee Valley police Insp Nigel Howard, in charge when the alleged assaults happened, said he could not comment on the legal centre report because he had not read it. But he had â€œno doubt there were elements of racist attitudesâ€ among some officers when he started at the Flemington headquarters in 2005.
â€œWeâ€™ve tried to stamp that out and weâ€™ve changed the culture at Flemington police station,â€ Insp Howard said.
â€œWeâ€™ve moved on and the community has moved on.â€
Moonee Valley police last year employed an emerging communities liaison officer who is Eritrean-Sudanese.
Tamar Hopkins, of the Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre, said the centre had not received a complaint about harassment by Flemington police in the past 18 months.
About 16 young people made 20 complaints about assaults by police from 2006-08, she said.
Moonee Valley Leader