Former COVID Leader Appointed Acting Police Commissioner in Queensland

Katarina Carroll will vacate her post early amid public displeasure about the youth crime wave in the state.
Former COVID Leader Appointed Acting Police Commissioner in Queensland
Queensland Deputy police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski speaks at a press conference at Police headquarters on March 25, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Jono Searle/Getty Images)
Isabella Rayner
The man well-known for leading Queensland’s COVID-19 police response has stepped into the role of acting police commissioner, amid the sudden and swift departure of top cop Katarina Carroll.
Steve Gollschewski was handed the interim role following the commissioner’s surprise announcement that she would step down on March 1, months ahead of her contract’s end.
Amidst the pandemic peak, Mr. Gollschewski managed hotel quarantine, airport security, and border patrols along Queensland roads. 
He’s the state’s most seasoned deputy commissioner, boasting over a decade in the role and drawing from over 40 years of experience as a policeman.
Queensland Premier Steven Miles said he worked closely with Mr. Gollschewski during their response to COVID-19, and praised him as an “extraordinarily competent and experienced leader.”
“I am very pleased to see Mr Gollschewski announced as Queensland’s Acting Police Commissioner,” he said.
Mr. Gollschewski will act as commissioner throughout next week’s entire merit selection process to appoint Ms. Carroll’s successor.
Meanwhile, Police Minister Mark Ryan assured Queensland Police and the community that they were in good hands.
“Steve Gollschewski ... is a highly regarded leader within the Queensland Police Service,” he said. 
“Queenslanders know they can rely on Steve Gollschewski,” he added. “We saw that during the response to COVID.”

Carroll Fast-Tracks Departure Amid Unrest, Youth Crime Concerns

It comes as Ms. Carroll accelerated her departure from the top position amid speculation about her future due to concerns over youth crime and reports of officer unrest.
Earlier this month, Ms. Carroll faced pressure after the fatal stabbing of 70-year-old grandmother Vyleen White in a suspected carjacking outside a Brisbane shopping centre in front of her 6-year-old granddaughter.
Officers were reportedly unhappy and tired of dealing with juvenile offenders and domestic violence incidents.
However, Ms. Carroll firmly denied being a “scapegoat,” as she announced she would not renew her contract, reportedly worth $650,000 a year set to conclude in July, instead, opting to leave on March 1.
“I made this decision,” she told reporters after almost five years at the helm. 
“And [I] was going to have the discussion about not renewing my contract with the minister in about two weeks’ time, but because of the heightened speculation and commentary, I brought these discussions forward,” she said.
“I would love to have had the conversation with the minister in my time … but I purposely brought it forward so we can move on.”
Ms. Carroll was Queensland Fire and Emergency Services commissioner for five years before former Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk appointed her as the state’s top cop in July 2019.
She admitted policing is “challenging,” with crime having surged to an unprecedented level in the wake of the pandemic. 
“The exponential increase in demand is something that we have never seen before, particularly prior to COVID-19,” she said. 
“To have in one year, a 25 percent increase in domestic violence is just unheard of.”
Nevertheless, her exit from the top job has stirred up debate.
Police Minister Ryan said he was “very sad.”
“Because you’ve got a distinguished leader here who has dedicated her entire life to serving Queensland and she’s had to make a decision earlier because of a public narrative.”
However, James Ashby of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation said the failure to curb youth crime would be a stain on Ms. Carroll’s legacy. 
“Katarina Carroll will be remembered as a failed Police Commissioner who cultivated Queensland’s worst crime statistics and destroyed morale within the Police Force,” he said on Facebook.
“Let’s hope her replacement shows leadership, while supporting Queensland Police officers in their bid to reduce the juvenile crime across this state.”

$6 Million in Theft in 2023 Under Carroll’s Watch: Insurer

During Ms. Carroll’s tenure, crime across the state resulted in over $6 million in property stolen from Queensland homes in 2023. 
RACQ Insurance received 1,327 home theft claims last year, with the highest number occurring in the January-March quarter.

Brisbane’s southside had the most home thefts, with 208 claims, an 18 percent increase from the previous year.

In the Wide Bay region, there were 81 home theft claims, double the 40 recorded in 2022.

However, Cairns, Toowoomba, Ipswich, Gold Coast, Fitzroy, and Moreton Bay North all saw a decrease in home theft claims.

RACQ’s Trent Sayers expressed concern about the impact of home theft on Queenslanders, particularly amid the strain of rising living costs.
“We also saw a 35 percent increase in the total cost of home theft claims in 2023 compared to the previous year, and this is a result of increased claims volumes, higher value property being stolen, and inflation,” he said.

He mentioned that RACQ research indicates most Queenslanders are concerned.

“With more than half (52 percent) stating they were concerned about home or vehicle break-ins while not at home,” he explained. 
“Contact local police immediately to report the theft,” he said. 
“Don’t touch or move anything until the police have completed their inspection.”
Isabella Rayner is a reporter based in Melbourne, Australia. She is an author and editor for WellBeing, WILD, and EatWell Magazines.
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