To see police involved in a fracas at the recent Pride march is deplorable. This outcome was inevitable, and police should never have put themselves in this position.
Irrespective of who was the instigator of the melee, the Police, instead of performing the police function to solve a social problem, were part of it.
The seeds for this outcome were sown some twenty years ago when the Police moved from policing the event to being part of it.
The CAA logo features Lady Justice, who is depicted as blindfolded, showing Justice is blind.
The meaning is profound and forms the basis of our Justice system, which includes the Police.
Police must never become part of the issue and remain independent to exercise their powers in a dispassionate way, not showing favouritism or bias to the problems they are policing.
Being part of this march destroys impartiality and undermines the fundamental role of the Police.
We also noticed Police uniforms adorned in trinkets supporting the pride genera. These displays, supporting a particular cause, would be irreverent to many and detract from the impartiality that Police should project and preserve.
These displays must not be worn on uniforms or, for that matter, any clothing while a police member is on duty. It is a matter of professional pride.
It also could be argued that this police activity is in breach of their Oath of Office.
…that I will well and truly serve our Sovereign as a police officer in Victoria in any capacity in which I may be appointed, promoted, or reduced to, without favour or affection, malice or ill-will for the period of [ insert period ] from this date, and until I am legally discharged, that I will see and cause the peace to be kept and preserved, and that I will prevent to the best of my power all offences, and that while I continue to be a police officer I will to the best of my skill and knowledge discharge all the duties legally imposed on me faithfully and according to law.
This issue has nothing to do with the personal preferences exercised by any member of the Force in their private lives. That is their business, and if they want to march, they have every right to participate, just not in uniform.
In many ways, this clash was inevitable.
According to reports, there has been anti-police sentiment for a long time, and leadership should have been taken to avoid the inevitable confrontation.
In this event, participants dress up gregariously, as is their right; however, by high-level participation by the Police, they are relegating the uniform to fancy dress.
There are always huge risks when police favour one particular group, and we are confident that the Police Command would not tolerate uniformed Police marching in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, anti-COVID, Union movement, anti-government, environmental or the myriad of other special interest groups.
The test may again come as those who support Palestine become more vociferously anti-Israel as that war drags on.
Police, like all Australians, are entitled to exercise their right to lawful assembly, just not in uniform.
We encourage Victoria Police, in the interest of fair justice for all, to issue a direction that police on or off duty cannot participate in any demonstrations or cause in uniform.
Demonstrating a bias for or against any particular interest group is counterintuitive to effective policing.