2nd May 2022
An unholy spat unfolded within Victoria Police last year between a Sergeant with Christian beliefs on the cusp of retiring and a Deputy Commissioner who is openly gay and is not too subtle with his aspirations for the top Police job.
The spat has spilt into the public domain.
When Police join the Force, they take either an Oath or an Affirmation to serve, “without favour or affection, malice or ill will…” The vast majority of Police take this undertaking very seriously.
Concurrent with this, Victoria Police has published the following Inclusion Policy:
Victoria Police is committed to a workforce that embraces diversity and inclusion and our vision for this is: Our policing services are provided through leadership that fosters a diverse, inclusive and respectful workforce, better equipping us to work together to understand and respond to the Victorian community
In 2021, Victoria Police embarked on actions that bear a strong resemblance to the persecution and bullying of one of their own, a Christian, who expressed concerns about using police resources for the apparent promotion of a Gay agenda by one of the force’s most senior officers, Deputy Commissioner Neil Paterson.
Mr Paterson has been instrumental in promoting the inclusion of LGBTQI people into Victoria Police and he applied multiple sworn police to the 2021 Australian LGBTQ+ inclusion awards submission, which resulted in a Silver Award. The Victoria Police submission was undertaken despite the peak of the COVID Pandemic severely stretching Vicpol’s most valuable asset, manpower. To question this resource allocation in the circumstances is reasonable.
Mr Paterson appears to have overstepped the mark with his apparent biased gay agenda bullying of Sergeant Bruno Staffieri, over the latter’s respectful comments and concerns.
No ‘Inclusion Policy’ worth its salt excludes individuals based on their religious beliefs and nor can it be at law. Yet Mr Paterson appears to have done just that, based on what appears to be his response to a respectful and courteously worded dissent expressed by Sergeant Staffieri on the Police internal social media platform.
“ Last year, Deputy Police Commissioner Neil Paterson posted on internal police social media celebrating that “Victoria Police is proud to have been recognised as a silver employer at the 2021 Australian LGBTQ+ inclusion awards.”
In response, Sergeant Staffieri responded: “Yes I agree. Great achievement. But if the public knew how much time, effort and taxpayer dollars went into this, they would also be demanding why we didn’t get a gold.”
Mr Paterson defended the campaign and said it had not received significant public funding.
Sergeant Staffieri responded: “Sir, I totally value and respect your opinion and your rank, I simply ask that you value and respect mine.”
Mr Paterson, the state’s second highest-ranked police officer, fired a public broadside at Sergeant Staffieri, suggesting he consider looking for a new job.
“I don’t respect or value your views as they are offensive and there is no place for those views in Victoria Police…. Either limit your comments on Yammer to comments that are respectful of everyone or consider your employment options,” Paterson posted -source https://www.advanceaustralia.org.au/this_victorian_copper_is_a_bloody_aussie_legend
Sergeant Staffieri displayed a respectful tone while expressing concern over the resources which went into achieving recognition of Victoria Police for its inclusiveness. Mr Paterson, on the other hand, was bullying and anything but respectful or inclusive in his response to the Sergeant.
Sergeant Staffieri has since been subjected to a protracted and ongoing investigation, as a consequence of this exchange and has apparently been charged under the Police Act and has now after two years been advised he will be suspended.
The aggressor and person who would appear to have breached the Chief Commissioner’s Inclusion Policy appears not to have been disciplined.
We applaud Victoria Police for seeking to include LGBTQ+ people into the organisation. But inclusion does not mean giving them a place of pre-eminence over others. Inclusion also does not mean forcing out others because they seek to politely voice their beliefs respectfully, influenced by their religion.
The Deputy was responsible for escalating this matter into a religion versus gay spat. That he did not think through the impact the spat would attract, brings his judgement into serious question in addition to his deliberate breaching of Force Policy.
We find it hard to accept he is so naive that he would think the contentious comments published on an internal VicPol Social page available to 22,000 police staff, would not find a way into mainstream media and be widely circulated on public social media. We strongly suspect the action was either wholly reckless or deliberate.
If you don’t want it to get out, don’t write it.
So how has such an experienced senior officer as Mr Paterson fallen into such serious error? Could it be that ambition plays a part? Ambition for the LGBTQ+ community or ambition for himself? Mr Paterson appears to have made LGBTQ+ inclusion, his personal agenda and in doing so appears to have lost objectivity critical to his role as one of the most senior leaders in a major Australian policing agency.
As a police leader, he must lead for all, not just some. Mr Paterson appears to have failed significantly in his most important duty – leadership. This brings into question his suitability to remain at that very senior level, let alone progress to higher office when the Chief Commissioner’s Office becomes vacant.
We should also be concerned over the apparent inaction of Chief Commissioner Patton in this debacle from whom we hear nothing. Most significantly because this egregious breach of force policy is the Chief Commissioners’ own Policy.
Paterson has thrown down the gauntlet to Patton, in a not too subtle challenge to the Chief Commissioners’ authority. A blatant act of dissension that cannot be tolerated in any circumstance from any Police member let alone somebody of Paterson’s rank.
Mr Patton holds the highest office in Victoria Police and therefore, arguably, the highest duty to lead his police. Mr Patton is singularly silent in this matter, apparently preferring to leave it to others in Command to mount what looks, from the outside, alarmingly like a campaign of religious persecution against Sergeant Staffieri for daring to respectfully dissent.
All this is against a backdrop where Victoria Police have serially neglected their duty in a range of very serious investigations including ‘The Red Shirts’ and ‘Slug Gate’. It seems that the police no longer catch real crooks. They prefer to ‘catch and kill’ their own.
To think this all could have been avoided if the Deputy had shown a modicum of Leadership and called the Sergeant in for a cup of coffee and an informal chat to avoid any spat engulfing VicPol and now the Chief.
The actions of the Deputy have left the Chief Commissioner in the untenable position, to either side with the Deputy, or allow this breach of his authority to stand, alienating a sizable proportion of his workforce and the community.
So, what should happen? Chief Commissioner Patton must show the leadership of his position and immediately intervene.
The discipline charges against Sergeant Staffieri must be immediately withdrawn. If the Sergeant’s conduct is in error, he should be counselled and provided appropriate supervision and training. Or he could be allowed to continue on long Service Leave and retire with dignity, as was his intention after having provided 35 years of fearless and exemplary service to the people of Victoria.
Yes, Sergeant Staffieri was actually on Long Service Leave leading to retirement when he was brought back to duty, interviewed under direction, and advised he was to be suspended from duty.
Mr Patton has little choice but to refer the conduct of his Deputy Mr Paterson to IBAC for investigation during which time Paterson should be suspended. That precedent has been set by the way Staffieri has been managed. Mr Paterson’s potential breaches of Sections 342 (Adverse Action) and 789FD (Bullying) of the Fair Work Act (Cth) were apparent in his ‘public’ diatribe directed at Sergeant Staffieri. The singling out and charging of the Sergeant also arguably amount to further ‘Adverse Action’ by Victoria Police against Sergeant Staffieri.
An apparent power struggle by Paterson against the Chief does VicPol no favours, his continued service is untenable.
It does seem as though some 11th hour sanity may be being applied with the Sergeant now advised that he will not be suspended. This should be the precursor to the charges being dropped. However, this does not detract from the serious breaches by the Deputy.
We can hope the Chief has stepped in and will stamp his authority on the force by terminating Paterson.
They should have stayed in the closet!
Disgraceful, sick world we now find ourselves stuck within.
Yes next pedophiles, rapists and murderers will join the “Inclusion list” We must discriminate on how freaks identify as must we
Too often ‘spats’ for what this issue is, are pursued in social media. That seems to be the accepted forum for small minded people. Some one with the profile held by Mr. Paterson, I feel uncomfortable referring to him with his rank, which I always respected, even if I couldn’t respect the incumbent, should never have gone down this path. Chest thumping and ‘look at me’ comes to mind. But then, VicPol has a long way to go to undo years of questionable decisions.
I have known Bruno for 30 years. He has shown true leadership to young soldiers under his command. It looks like Patterson has chucked a hissy fit all because a torch was shone on the cost of his woke agenda.
I would suggest no one holds their breath waiting for Mr. Patton to intervene, but, under the Fair Work Act, it is my belief ANYONE who has evidence of bullying against a worker can bring proceedings in FairWork. This provision allows others to report on a case of bullying where the victim is so intimidated they can’t bring themselves to risk even more bullying by reporting it. This is a prima facie case of bullying by a superior officer, and if Patton and IBAC won’t take action, someone from CAA should lead the way and make a report to Fairwork!
I’d like to make one amendment to your comment. The bullying is from a senior officer. In no way is he superior to anybody.
Sergeant Staffieri deserves to be treated with the respect and dignity he deserves:
1.For his many (35) years of exemplary service
2.He (as do all police and Australians) has a right to express a reasoned opinion.
For the soon-to-retire sergeant to be subjected to harassment and intolerance of HIS views is lamentable.
It appears the good cops are leaving and being replaced with Jackbooted and nasty gay types Yes stereo typing does fit here Ir maybe Im just “Bat shit crazy”.
One of the main reasons I left vic pol after serving 15 years. I saw the writing in the wall. The powers to be have lost touch as to who the real backbone of the force is
This hidden agenda is now coming out of the woodwork. No decent and law abiding Australian can have faith in such a corrupt government body. It is despicable what is happening in Victoria.
Totally concur with these remarks
How much worse can it get for Victoria Police, and Victoria in general? It seems that the only people allowed to voice an opinion are those kowtowing to a very obvious woke agenda that persecutes those who have a different view. In so doing, the rights of what are probably the majority are trampled in the rush for inclusivity.
Doesn’t sound very inclusive to me. In fact it sounds very divisive.
Vic Pol has not learnt a thing over many years. This kind of bullying behaviour has been going on since time and memoriam in the organisation along with sexual harassment. All the enquiries and redress schemes over the years has not changed the culture one iota.
Fancy that they called a member back from long service leave to face a disciplinary action. Are they kidding themselves !!!. This reeks of intimidation and harassment.
WorkSafe should be requested to investigate.
Wake up Victoria Police there has been clear precedent set by the likes of people such as Israel Folau. People are allowed and should be allowed to express their views. In my view that is actually what diversity & Inclusion means.
I guess the Crooks will now be expected to say bangzy wanzsy in a holdup hahahaha
I absolutely agree with Alan Flynn. This long serving member should receive a medal for his service to the community. Instead he is being persecuted for merely expressing his views. What has happened to our democracy?? I am mindful that the freedom of speech is not absolute, that there are defined limits. However, this member, like Margaret Court, has done nothing wrong apart from expressing his christian motivated believes. And I say, good on you, mate! Retire in peace and do not worry about those politically correct lackeys to Andrews!!
I’m a casual but interested observer and not a police officer.
Having read the report it appears that Sergeant Staffieri inadvertently asked reasonable questions which were construed as him potentially being a whistle blower and we know how the government of Victoria treats them.
As for the comment ‘catch and kill their own’ I remember that as being a statement by a senior member of the Painters and Dockers union ln the good old days.
With regard to the LGBTQI community they are becoming increasingly militant at a time when the majority of the community has no opinion good or bad about their choices. They are simply another strata of the community, why the flag waving.
As for charges against Sergeant Staffieri he should never have been charged, an injustice has been perpetrated and it’s a shameful day when workplace bullying of this kind is allowed is not brought to justice.
Please don’t confuse rank with leadership. Just because a person regardless of sex, persuasion or belief occupies a rank doesn’t mean they are a leader. Inclusion means that we include everyone even those that we disagree with. A true leader is capable of influencing change including changing a person’s opinions. Resorting to oppressive measures probably indicates a significant deficiency in leadership and a lack of commitment towards true inclusion.
I fully agree this policeman is being thrown under the bus as the small minority with the loudest voice grows stronger every day if this continues we are all stuffed. Stay strong SGT and all the best, hopefully commonsense will prevail and Patterson will go under his own bus that he seems to be driving.
Sgt Staffieri and Mr Patterson: I have worked with both. One has spent many many years in the ADF Reserve outside of police duties, training others and himself in the service of our country if required. One has received an OAM for spending time socialising with his friends and supports of his community. I respect both. I find it disgraceful that a political agenda can attack the Sargeant after his fair comment asking why ANZAC day was treated differently by the government than the LGBTI Parade. It was a fair question and as always, any fair question against the politically correct is considered homophobic. I have worked side by side in a team with Sgt Staffieri and gay colleagues and NEVER seen him show any disrespect to them in their workplace.
Or we could ask ourselves, why have we all sat for so long watching the car crash before moving into the unfolding horror and putting a stop to it ‘before’ reason and ethical controls were taken out of reach. Now that the lunatics are in control of the asylum for the most part, what is then the most efficient and most importantly; ‘quickest’ solution to this ever mutating problem. Begin enacting on the best way to get the malignant out from positions that have ordinarily been only accessible to those properly equipped and sorted from the ranks and put back the checks, controls and balances that were once correctly and ethically in place. The longer we wait, the deeper and more difficult the weeds are to get out.
If I had predicted this debacle when I joined the job in 1978, I am sure I’d have been assessed as mentally unfit to keep my job! To say that the focus of Vicpol has slowly but surely changed over the years is an understatement. I have known and worked with Bruno for almost 20 years and I can’t speak highly enough of his commitment to the Victorian Community and his fellow members. That fellowship is, sadly, not what it used to be. Vicpol can’t have its cake and eat it on this one.
So, “inclusion” has been interpreted by a very senior member to equate to inclusion – WITH EXCEPTION. The “exception” is the values of a much lower ranked member. VicPol policy has been demonstrably trashed by the senior officer who also showed poor and selfish leadership by inadequate awareness of the consequences of his apparently biased action. The inappropriate punishment of the lower ranked member cannot be fixed over a cup of coffee. It must be completely withdrawn. Nonetheless, and unfortunately, it will leave a scar in the form of widespread disrespect for the application of the VicPol “inclusion” policy……unless the CCP is seen to discipline his troublesome immediate underling. Exceptional award-winning inclusion is NOT inclusion with exception.
Of course you can have some kind of opinion, as long as it’s seen as the right one! Anytime someone dare questions a view in relation to race or sexual preference your immediately labelled homophobic or racist! This is the world we now live in!
It’s disappointing that leadership in this instance is used as a tool for bullying instead of helping someone to understand the importance of the respect minorities crave. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity irrespective of their views…leaders have a very important role in ensuring this occurs in the workplace – its vital people in positions of power understand this.
The CCP is threatened by Patterson. Can’t touch him/her.
Patterson must go along with other members in command at vicpol for denying detectives their duty to prosecute members of our corrupt Government over the red shirts scandal. Corruption all round and it stinks to high heaven.
I have known this man for many years. His leadership has been beyond reproach which he displays effortlessly and should have been commended for. It is extremely unfortunate on how he has been treated. I do understand the need to uphold the right for the LGBTI community. However who is upholding the right for Bruno.
Where is the inclusivity of Bruno’s views? They where internal and could withstand scrutiny where his treatment could not.
To everyone on the site who has read this article, especially the people that left a comment and the writer and whoever supplied the information.
Can I say how deeply touched I am by your support. I was not expecting this and am extremely humbled by it and I thankyou immensely.
What you probably don’t know is when the file was handed to Professional Standards Command to interview me, that whole paragraph where I was threatened and bullyed was deleted from the yammer post. The investigators didn’t even know about that untill I told them. You should have seen their faces when I showed them a full copy of the post. I’m sure that shows some sort of guilt or remorse? But someone still wanted me charged. So what do I do now?
I have no intention of hurting my much loved Victoria Police’s reputation any more than it has been in the last few months. In the last 36 years, I have worked with some extremely honest, loyal and dedicated officers that just want to do what we are paid to do and not get influenced by personal agendas and biases. I don’t want these members tarnished with the same brush. It is sad that I read so many negative articles about Victoria Police, when they should be directed at individuals rather than the whole organisation, as the negativity should be directed to certain individuals not the organisation.
Anyway, I’m enjoying my long service leave and when it runs out I will retire – hopefully gracefully with my head held high, making my family proud of me and being remembered by VICPOL not as a trouble maker, but as a dedicated member who dared speak his mind questioning decisions where he believed they were unfair. I always have and will continue to hold Victoria Police in high reverence.