For the attention of entrants at Let’s Go Cruisin’ Peninsula Cruise Nights.
Most of you will be aware that the Let’s Go Cruisin’ Cruise Night has been subjected to, in our view unwarranted ‘attention’ by police officers from the Traffic Management Unit. This attention came about after an investigation into a fatal road accident involving a street rod on SR plates that was reported to be travelling to the 2008 Santa Cruz event. Certain officers harbor a view that because we were hosting this event, we in some way contributed to this accident. We have consistently rejected this view as to the best of our knowledge, the car’s owner had never attended any LGC event prior, had only recently acquired the car involved and we have little influence over how cars are used when not actually at our event. This culminated in an ‘unjustified and inappropriate’ operation our Santa Cruz cruise night last December.
The operation netted zero over .05’s and two defect notices out of over 500 drivers tested and cars present.
We filed a formal complaint to the Chief Commissioner of Police, claiming ongoing ‘victimization’ of car owners attending our events by one particular officer, the excessive nature of the operation that utilized a preliminary breath testing [PBT] operation to blockade all exits and entrances to the Lifestyle car park and the intimidating behavior demonstrated by a number of officers as they ‘patrolled’ the venue. All those that were present will have clear memory of how inappropriate this operation was. It was clearly intended to harass entrants from attending our events.
Members of Let’s Go Cruisin’ Inc committee recently met with Inspector Shayne Pannell, the senior police officer for the Mornington Peninsula region to hear the police response to our complaint. The Inspector’s responses are summarized below:
- The Inspector reported that the police had ‘no issues’ with LGC as a club or an event organizer.
- The operation was approved based on recommendations from Hastings TMU that significant numbers of cars with registration and roadworthiness issues regularly attended our cruise nights.
- With only two defect notices and no over .05’s registered, clearly, the results did not support this claim. The results did not justify the level of resources tied up and as a result, he would be unlikely to approve a similar operation at any future LGC event.
- The PBT should not have been used to ‘blockade’ the venue exits, but been positioned on a public road as would be the normal process
- It was not authorized as a joint operation between VicRoads and TMU
In summary, the Inspector confirmed that with the benefit of hindsight, the operation was not warranted and was excessive in its execution.
We also discussed the concerns we raised last year over the use of the ‘Present your Vehicle Inspection’ demand letter sent out by LSC Proctor based at Frankston. The Inspector confirmed that should any car owner receive this letter in the future they will be able to present their vehicle at the nearest TMU station convenient to their residential address. It will no longer be a requirement to present it TMU Frankston only. We’d request that any car owner receiving this notice in future as a result of attending our events to contact us immediately.
We emphasized our position that we wish to maintain an effective working relationship with all sections of police as we value their advice and involvement in managing the ‘idiot factor’ that unfortunately does exist in our community. To this end, S/Sgt D Collins was assigned as our TMU liaison officer and we look forward to working with both S/Sgt Collins and the OIC at Mornington Police station to ensure that responsible car enthusiasts that drive registered and roadworthy cars, can enjoy attending our events without the fear of unreasonable policing activity.
We’d like to thank the entrants who responded to our request after Santa Cruz to contact us and provide us with details of any contact with police on the night. It proved to be most helpful in forming our response to the police action.
We’d also like to thank the many people who signed the petition protesting the operation. This was presented to our local MP, the Hon David Morris, and again proved very helpful in gaining his involvement in resolving the issues arising from the police operation at Santa Cruz.
We’d also like to thank the entrants who have continued to attend our cruise nights since last December even though it was well broadcast by the ‘jungle drums’ that our cruise night was now ‘off limits’ for street rods and modified cars. Yes, our attendance numbers were well below the same months last year, but those that did attend enjoyed being there with 200 plus other car owners and we appreciate your support.
Lastly, we’d recommend the following to any club hosting events for owners of modified cars the following advice based on our experience gained from this incident.
Do not wait for a problem to occur before developing a relationship with key government officials. If not already done so, request a meeting with your local MP to introduce your club and the activities that occur in their electorate. Better still, invite them to an event. Do the same with the ‘senior’ police officers in your locale. Be aware that the Officer in Charge at your local station may not represent the TMU which sits in a different organization division, in which case, repeat the relationship building with the TMU also.
We decided to resolve our complaint by using the Police Complaint Process. Details are available from the police web site under ‘Compliments & Complaints ’. Although it takes the police some time to go through its various steps, the final outcome indicates that it can work towards a satisfactory outcome.
Alan Newton President - Let’s Go Cruisin’ Association