A report claiming police feel like they are armed with “pool noodles” against Sydney’s organised crime rings has been greeted with concern by the NSW police minister.
There have been three gang-related shootings in Sydney in the past fortnight, including the wounding of Comanchero bikie boss Tarek Zahed and the killing of his brother Omar on Tuesday.
The shootings follow the public execution of gangland figure Mahmoud “Brownie” Ahmad, who was gunned down in Greenacre in late April.
A report from Nine newspapers published on Friday claimed police were struggling to tackle a rise in organised crime across the country, and secret briefings given to cabinet ministers described current legislation as giving officers “pool noodles” to fight crime bosses with guns.
“I saw those comments this morning and I was obviously a bit concerned,” NSW Police Minister Paul Toole told Nine News on Friday.
He rejected claims Premier Dominic Perrottet had ignored calls from two senior ministers to implement counter-crime reforms.
“The premier takes advice all the time and the premier is always acting on what is in the best interests of the people of this state,” Mr Toole said.
“I know that the premier is waiting for the report that is going to come back from the Crime Commission and that will be coming back with recommendations.
“We speak with the police commissioner almost weekly. We also talk about what additional resources and what things need to happen there to ensure they have enough support, and the premier is very active to that.”
Mr Toole said police have not yet identified the shooter from this week’s gun attack.
A search of two burned-out Audis found near the crime scene revealed a weapon inside, which had been sent for forensic testing.
Police have made more than 250 arrests under Operation Hawk – created to target organised crime networks – since October, while more than 800 charges have been laid and 70 firearms confiscated, Mr Toole said.
NSW Organised Crime Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Robert Critchlow told reporters on Friday that the force would welcome more resources and powers at its disposal.
“We’re always open to further engagement with the government about what we can do to make sure that our powers are appropriately meeting the requirements of the community.”
Commenting on the spate of shootings in south-west Sydney, Det Supt Critchlow was incensed.
“This week shows the links between drug trafficking and violence,” he said.
“We’ve got people dying in the streets and going down with family members in front of the public which is totally disgusting and unacceptable.”
This week the government announced the state’s anti-gang Raptor Squad would add another 30 officers to its ranks, boosting its numbers to 145.
“Our police will continue to be on the beat. They will walk every street, they will knock on doors, they will kick down doors, they will raid businesses, they will raid homes, they will disrupt and harass people to ensure that our communities are safe,” Mr Toole said.
“If people don’t change their ways, I’ll make it very simple. They can get used to wearing a set of greens and eating using plastic cutlery, because that’s the path they’re heading down right now.”
NSW Labor leader Chris Minns said organised crime was insidious and the government could not afford to sleep on the issue.
“(Organised crime) gets into the marrow of a community, it’s difficult to get out if you turn your back on it,” he said.
The opposition leader called on the premier to release any law-enforcement backed solutions to the public and NSW parliament.