Tough job keeping the peace

A trouble-maker is subdued, handcuffed and arrested in Northbridge. Pictures: Rosanna Candler d413007
A trouble-maker is subdued, handcuffed and arrested in Northbridge. Pictures: Rosanna Candler d413007

Flashing blue and red lights blur our vision as the handcuffed man ” legs splayed and spitting expletives ” is bundled into a police van.

‘He’s just drunk, he really isn’t like this usually,’ the groom-to-be says.

A few minutes later, Constable Ross Tselepis dusts off his knees and bandaids a bleeding finger.

‘That was completely unnecessary, him carrying on,’ he says.

‘It could have been so easily avoided. He put himself in the back of that van.’

This arrest was just one of many incidents attended by WA Police, which resulted in 516 charges during a police crackdown on alcohol and drug-fuelled anti-social behaviour Operation Unite last weekend.

Operation Commander Bill Darby says to officers before their 9.30pm shift that the combined statistics for Northbridge and CBD police ‘eclipsed those of any other crew in WA’.

‘Be confident when you’re dealing with these people, but make good, rational, reasonable approaches to conflict,’ he says.

Constable Tselepis and his partner, Senior-Constable Nicola Sloane, say that despite increased police on the streets, they expect the night to be like any regular Saturday on the job.

‘Nights out in Northbridge are like a frog in a pan,’ Constable Tselepis says. ‘Early on it’s OK, there’s a bit of trouble here and there, but the later it gets the more action there is. It heats up pretty quickly after 2 or 3am.’

A couple of hours later at Perth train station, Constable Tselepis intercepts an English tourist arguing with a train guard.

Constable Tselepis gives a warning and tells the tourist to get on his train to Fremantle, but the man is drunk and angry and starts recording the officers on his camera phone.

When he starts pointing and swearing, Constable Tselepis places his hands on his handcuffs as a warning to the man.

‘We’ve given you every opportunity,’ he says. ‘Move on or you are going to get arrested.’

After the man has left, Constable Tseplepis says alcohol turned what should have been a simple exchange into ‘complete absurdity’.

‘People think the camera gives them the right to speak the way they want to and do anything,’ he says.

‘I notice it a lot now, you always work under the assumption that someone is filming you,’ Constable Sloane says.

‘It’s a new-age society and we’re filming them as well on CCTV.

‘It definitely doesn’t change the way I speak or act. Actually, sometimes we seize the phone to use the video in evidence against them.’

Operation Unite
December 13 and 14 from 6pm to
4am in major WA metropolitan and
entertainment districts.
– 516 charges and 202 arrests.
– Move on notices: 352
– Liquor cautions: 223
– Liquor infringements: 152
– Drug offences: 66
– Disorderly behaviour: 65
– Assaults: 11