ANOTHER Wagga police officer has been bashed in the line of duty on Sunday night as a startling region-wide trend has begun to emerge.
A staggering 21 serious assaults have been recorded against Riverina law enforcement in 12 weeks – prompting fury from former cops.
Detectives claim the latest perpetrator was immune to capsicum spray and potentially under the influence of a psychoactive drug when he lashed out.
The routine response for the Local Area Command in Temora turned ugly after an officer was punched in the face and wrestled to the ground.
Police received reports of a car doing burnouts in Loftus Street shortly after 6pm and arrived to discover two men fleeing on-foot.
When they tried to apprehend the alleged suspects, a 40-year-old man turned and punched one of the officers in the face.
It is alleged his colleague then pepper sprayed the perpetrator – but to no effect.
“Police tried to incapacitate him with the spray, but worryingly it did not slow him down at all,” Wagga duty officer Inspector Peter Robertson said.
“This extraordinary behaviour has led police to believe he was drug affected.
“Possibly something stronger than we’re used to seeing.”
The 40-year-old engaged in a further wrestle with the two officers before we was tasered and subsequently brought under control.
It has since been revealed the man was roaming the streets on bail after committing a raft of separate offences.
He was charged with breach of bail, resist arrest and assault police and was refused bail by police to appear at Wagga Local Court on Tuesday.
“Fortunately the policeman shook it off and he’ll be back at work tonight,” Inspector Robertson said.
“It’s a scary encounter for police to deal with.”
It comes after a series of troubling incidents where police have been assaulted, including the naked man who allegedly bashed a policewoman and left her with permanent facial injuries in Junee.
Police Association vice-president Pat Gooley has called for mandatory hard line sentencing of those who assault police.
“It’s interesting that we have seen a decline in the assault figures across the state but no drop in assaults on police,” he told Fairfax Media.
“It’s morale sapping; police aren’t punching bags.
“These people need to know that there will be repercussions.’’
Superintendent Commander Bob Noble admitted the violence officers face has intensified in recent years, likely due to the increased prominence of illicit drugs.
“Unfortunately it’s not uncommon and something we are seeing more and more,” he said.
“This is another example of the appalling behaviour exhibited by people under the influence of drugs. It’s already a dangerous job without that element of unpredictability.”
Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research figures revealed that 2307 police officers were assaulted on duty in NSW last year — which equates to roughly six every day. The data also shows 6406 incidents of hindering an officer on duty.