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One in 10 police assigned to COVID duties 'for foreseeable future'

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More than 9 per cent of the state’s police will be assigned to the coronavirus pandemic response for the foreseeable future, with warnings from Queensland’s top disaster cop the fight “is far from over”.

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The ABC has obtained an internal memo sent to all Queensland Police Service (QPS) staff, pleading with command posts to support the special COVID-response that could impact operational decisions for the “foreseeable future”.

In the email, State Disaster Coordinator and Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said at least 9 per cent of staff from all areas, across each region, would be allocated to the crisis duty.

“Our ‘business as usual’ has changed and we are operating and living in challenging times — we may not even be halfway through this fight — it is far from over,” Gollschewski said in the email.

“Failure to keep the virus out of our community will see the reintroduction of harsher restrictions for all of us — this is a responsibility of our entire organisation.”

Staff from across the state were being asked to “self-nominate” for up to month-long deployments across Queensland, for duties that included:

Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said the executive leadership team had been advised it needed to “ensure a 9 per cent allocation of staff to the COVID-19 response across all areas to ensure each region and command is not unfairly or detrimentally impacted by their ability to undertake their required policing functions or duties”.

“It is my expectation of leadership that if a member self-nominates for deployment and is called upon, every effort is made to facilitate the deployment, which at times may be short notice,” he said.

“I accept this may require local rostering adjustments and potential shift in your response to local core responsibilities.”

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said the measures would help avoid restrictions being tightened.

“We are in unprecedented times and we as police know that by playing our part, we can hopefully keep Queensland open for business and avoid the lockdown returns we have seen in the COVID-infested southern states,” Leavers said.

“To return to a lockdown in Queensland is something we are trying to avoid.”

– ABC / Exclusive by state political reporter Allyson Horn

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