Cop uniforms spark debate

By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au

TWO local police officers visiting Galipoli for Anzac Day have been caught up in a political debate about whether they should have been allowed to wear their uniforms at the ceremony.

Gladstone officers Paul Ruge and Mal Nichols both travelled to Anzac Cove to commemorate police officers who were killed during World War I.

However a request to wear their police uniforms during the service was denied by Queensland Police commissioner Bob Atkinson on the grounds the visit held no benefit for the Queensland Police Service.

The officers co-operated but the decision has angered Gladstone member Liz Cunningham who raised the issue in Parliament, asking for an explanation.

"It will need to be a darn good explanation to satisfy me,'' Ms Cunningham said.

Ms Cunningham added that in her opinion there was plenty of benefit in the officers visiting Anzac Cove, with the inclusion of their uniforms.

"There is a lot of benefit for these officers in terms of the service that they offer to the police in research, and the dignity that they were going to bring to these World War I officers who have died doing their duty,'' she said.

Ms Cunningham would not name the officers in Parliament because she did not have their permission to do so. However, she did say the officers visited the site to document their experience in the police journal.

Ms Cunningham added that the two officers paid for the trip themselves and were of high standing in the Gladstone community.

A spokesperson for Commissioner Atkinson said the officers' request to wear their uniform was denied because their trip was considered to be of a personal nature.

Neither Sgt Ruge or Nichols could be contacted yesterday for their opinion on the debate.

The officers do not return to Australia until next month. Ms Cunningham is still waiting for a response on the issue.



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