Parents hire armed cops to keep party teens in line
By Jackie Sinnerton and Kay Dibben From: The Sunday Mail (Qld) March 28, 2010
- Cops earn $103 an hour for policing parties
- Some turn up with squad cars, guns
- Best money we've spent, say parents
PARENTS are hiring armed police, and police vehicles, for teen parties.
The off-duty officers, who sometimes show up in police vehicles, get paid $103 an hour to patrol parties and keep out gatecrashers.
They can be hired out for anything from crowd control at sporting and entertainment events, to escorting wide loads and house removals or supervising parties.
A family from Brisbane recently paid $1000 for two uniformed police officers to back up private security guards also hired for their teenage son's party.
Three hundred teenagers attended the party and the officers, who arrived in a police car, were there for five hours.
The jobs are approved by Queensland Police Service under its Special Scheme.
Off-duty policing has proved to be lucrative for officers wanting overtime to boost their earnings.
They receive $50.95 to $70.35, depending on rank, out of the money paid to QPS. Police charge double the rate on public holidays.
Parents are paying twice as much for police to attend parties as private security guards, who charge about $55 an hour.
The usual practice is for parents to hire two police officers for a minimum shift of three hours.
While there is no extra charge if a police vehicle is requested, mileage is paid to and from the party.
Police confirmed that when off-duty officers were on special duties they were expected to observe the same dress standard, appearance and discipline as when on shift.
That can include wearing a gun.
"We found out about hiring the police officers by accident and it was the best money we have ever spent," said the father, who recently hired police for his son's party.
"They were so professional. They worked hand-in-hand with the security staff.
"I did take a second glance at the gun on the belt of the woman police officer, but they were both so good with the kids it just wasn't an issue.
"Nobody commented on the gun. I don't think anybody really noticed."
The father said the party was a major success and there was no hint of trouble.
Police Minister Neil Roberts told The Sunday Mail that the Specials Scheme did not impact on the day-to-day operations of police protecting the broader community.
Mark Ellis, former Queensland police officer and now managing director of Gatecrash Security, has worked with police officers on "specials" at teenage parties and said it would be ideal to have police presence at all underage parties but added "it is not an ideal world".
"If you can afford it, then I'd say go for it. I would welcome much more of it."
Last week, a 13-year-old boy who reportedly gatecrashed a party in Toowoomba appeared in court charged with raping a girl, 15.
QPS raked in $23 million from providing off-duty police for special duties last year – an increase of $6 million since 2007.
However, the QPS policy in relation to special duties is now under review.