Garda facing dismissal for turning on emergency lights to warn public about stolen car
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24th May 2022
A MEMBER OF the gardaí is facing dismissal after they turned on the emergency lights on a garda car to warn the public of a dangerous incident ahead.
The Garda Representative Association (GRA) is advising the officer on the case.
The GRA, which is having its annual delegate conference in Westport, Mayo, slammed the decision by local management to discipline the officer involved.
The association’s president, Frank Thornton, said the people of Ireland would be “shocked” to realise how many members of the force are not authorised to use emergency lights and sirens in squad cars.
He explained: “Basically, the member was driving one direction and knew from a briefing that there was a stolen car being used in the city.”
- Thornton said that the garda saw the vehicle pass in the opposite direction and decided to make the public aware that there was a potential hazard on the road. The garda did not give chase but instead activated the blue lights on the squad car – something the member was not authorised to do.
Asked what punishment the garda could face, Thornton said: “Dismissal or a monetary fine.”
Gardaí who are not trained to a higher standard are not allowed to use sirens, flashing lights or drive at higher speeds.
Gardaí who complete a one-day Competency Based Driver (CBD) Level 1 assessment may drive patrol cars, but they have to sign a document promising not to exceed the speed limit at any time and that they will not turn on their sirens or flashing lights.
CBD2 is the higher qualification which allows garda members to pursue vehicles at high speeds, use the sirens and turn on the flashing blue lights.
Thornton also said this garda was activing proactively by engaging and making sure members of the public were safe, and he slammed the rule, saying “and then we have somebody in some office just, you know, not taking any consideration…ticking a box”.
GRA vice-president Brendan O’Connor said that the reality on the ground is that there will be a garda on duty tonight who is observing a drunk driver and they are not allowed to turn on the sirens or emergency lights without fear of being reprimanded by management.
“This is the reality of what you’re dealing with.”
The Policing Authority, the nation’s garda oversight body, has been vocal on the driving issue.
In its latest report, it said: “It continues to frustrate the authority that the training of drivers has not been included as an organisational priority.”
Addressing the press this afternoon, Thornton said the force continues to face a “massive morale problem” and that there “simply needs to be more gardaí coming through”.
Resignations and retirement continue to outpace new recruits coming though, Thornton said, meaning that the force is in a continual decline.
The GRA said it now fears for the mental health of new recruits coming through, such is the huge workload being forced on them.
“Morale is very low. And it’s very low for a multitude of different reasons, you know, you can, a lot of it is down to workload, the workload that the especially our junior members are enduring isn’t sustainable.
“We’re, we’re stating this ad nauseam at this stage and the difficulty we have is that, you know, senior management aren’t listening to that.
“The issue we have is that the legacy issue from the embargo that was put on, they have never delivered as far as recovered from that. Everyone [is expecting] 400 retirements this year, which it was only in around two to 250 recruited.
“So we’re on a massive downward trend. And like, I read the headline to like, you know, 102 guys are attested and it looked good. But when you delve into it and start getting into the small bits, it’s actually shocking what’s happening.”