Last Friday we wrote to Detective Inspector Healey, acting chief of the Penrith Local Area Command. He’s the man responsible for overseeing the police operation at Defqon1, a hardstyle dance music festival in Penrith on September 20.
Last year 23 year old James Munro overdosed and died at Defqon1. In his father's account, he took three pills after he saw there was a drug dog operation at the entrance. That was a preventable death and should not happen again.
In the letter we argued that general drug detection using dogs is counterproductive because it adds another level to existing drug-related harms. Panic-based fatal overdoses like the death of James Kelly are the most tragic outcome of this policing activity.
We called for no drug dog operation at Defqon1 2014.
Today, Detective Inspector Healey replied. His letter claimed that
The James Munro death has been dealt with by the Coroner and your assertion about the police operation was wrong. The police will be conducting operations as we assess as necessary to reduce the risk of harm to patrons of the event.
He also dissed us for our number of Facebook followers! Ouch! (Read the full letter below)
We responded to him today. We pointed out that the implication of the police operation in James Munro’s death is not our assertion. It repeats the account of James’ father Stephen from this ABC interview.
We thanked him for his concern about reducing the risk of harm to patrons of the event - we clearly have a lot in common. We explained that like many people who care about harm reduction, we try to make sure that whatever we do is informed by evidence rather than assertion.
Therefore we asked if he would share with us any evidence he has that general drug detection operations using dogs have reduced the risk of harm to patrons of similar events in the past.
We await his response.
Detective Inspector Healey's letter