Frontline cops being pulled in to guard quarantine hotels
POLICE are scrambling to cover thousands of people quarantining in Queensland hotels, and even looked at hiring private security guards before the idea was quashed in the wake of Melbourne's coronavirus disaster.
It is understood so many Queensland police officers are being used to man borders and monitor quarantine hotels that detectives who investigate organised crime and outlaw motorcycle gangs are being pulled away from their work.
The Department of Health confirmed that as of yesterday, 1593 hotel rooms around Queensland were being used to quarantine returned travellers.
About 4600 people are subject to active quarantine orders, with the vast majority in hotel rooms.
It is understood a small number of security guards were ready to be deployed at Queensland hotels this week before the plan was rejected as coronavirus cases skyrocket in Victoria, largely as a result of lax security involving private contractors at hotels.
The Queensland Police Service had earlier informally agreed with the Chief Health Officer that no private security guards would be used to monitor returned travellers in quarantine.
Management of Victoria's quarantine hotels has been labelled a major scandal. Most of the "second wave" cases have been linked to management of returned travellers.
Private security guards have been accused of contributing to the outbreak by having sex with people in quarantine, sleeping on the job and ignoring social distancing practises.
Detectives who investigate organised crime are among those being used to help with the coronavirus response, despite a number of recent incidents involving outlaw motorcycle gang members.
Former Bandido boss Mario Vosmaer, 61, was bashed and shots were fired into his business and cars at Moorooka last month. A man and a woman have been charged over the incident.
One senior officer said: "It's a good time to be involved in organised crime."
In late May it was revealed that child protection investigators and homicide detectives were being dragged off the frontlines to man borders.
LNP police spokesman Dan Purdie said bikie gangs would take advantage of police being tied up. "Our police always have and always will rise to any challenge, but the thin blue line has never been thinner," he said.
"All members of the public should be concerned about the rise in violence and that the specialist detectives charged with investigating bikies are now being redeployed to act as security guards at hotels and border checkpoints.
"We have seen in the past how innocent people can get caught up in the crossfire when bikie crime increases.
"It's not only the cost to the already underfunded police budget, but of greater concern is the cost to the community of hundreds of police taken away from their core duties fighting crime and keeping our communities safe."
Comment was sought from the QPS.
Originally published as Frontline cops being pulled in to guard quarantine hotels