Top cop sets up domestic violence unit after family murder
THE tragic deaths of Camp Hill mum Hannah Clarke and her three children took a toll on police officers who attended the fiery scene in February and those who helped her family in the aftermath.
One of those officers, who was there to offer solace to Hannah's parents Lloyd and Suzanne Clarke, and brother Nathaniel, was Acting Assistant Commissioner Brian Swan.
Little did he know that two-and-a-half months later, the events in February would help shape the way he set up his team and command after being appointed to the top position in Logan Police District.
Now, as Chief Superintendent Swan, he's setting up a crack taskforce team to target domestic violence across his jurisdiction, which extends as far as the New South Wales border.
Setting up the taskforce was the first major project for the 54-year-old after he moved into his Logan Central office this month, which also happens to be Domestic Violence Prevention Month in Queensland.
It was a project close to his heart after he played an integral role following the torching deaths of Ms Clarke and her children Laianah, Aaliyah and Trey by her estranged husband Rowan Baxter on that fateful February 20.
As Acting Assistant Commissioner in Brisbane, Superintendent Swan was called on to visit Ms Clarke's family hours after the massacre seared unforgettable images of a car on fire into the memories of Camp Hill residents.
"That was a particularly upsetting, terrible, terrible crime - there's really no way to describe it," he said.
"It shows that domestic violence touches everyone because that family was the most beautiful family.
"I met Hannah's mum and I met her father and spent a little bit of time with her parents which just shows that no one is left unscathed or untouched by the scourge.
"I visited them and attended a number of the vigils so they felt that there were people there for them all the time."
His commitment to wiping out the insidious crime was fortified that February day when he vowed to continue to help roll out domestic violence taskforces into every corner of the state.
This month he has been busy helping to set up Logan's first Vulnerable Persons and Domestic Violence Unit, which will monitor high-risk domestic violence incidents and offer support to those affected.It will be headed by a Detective Senior Sergeant, yet to be named, who will oversee up to a dozen officers working to reduce repeat calls and to support operational police with advice.
In a move to keep the unit dynamic, Chief Superintendent Swan said the team would focus on prevention, enforcement and community engagement which would also extend to perpetrators.
He said the community would also play a role in its success.
"This is not just a policing problem, it's a problem for every community and we can't address the issues police officers see 24-hours a day, seven days a week, unless we have the community on-board with us," he said.
The unit will also liaise with non-government organisations which deliver services to both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence in Logan, where domestic violence-related offences were on the rise since 2017.
Last month, across the Logan district, there were 267 breaches of domestic violence protection orders, compared with 290 in March during the height of the coronavirus lockdown, but well up on the 2017 April figure of 171.
*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636
Originally published as Logan top cop sets up domestic violence unit after Hannah tragedy