13th September 2020

There have been a number of developments in Policing during the COVID Pandemic, and we laud the proactive, pre-emptive moves against activists.

Under the stewardship of Chief Commissioner Patton the word, ‘Prevention ‘, now has some meaning.

We would argue, had that not been done, social unrest would be out of control by now; heaven knows, the Premier is doing his damnedest to stoke the fires of discontent.

The community accepted many of the draconian restrictions believing they were based on best medical/scientific advice, and now that has been exposed as a ‘Furphy’, anger is palpable.

The load will increase on Vitoria Police to keep the peace, as that anger is unlikely to dissipate proportionally to the lifting of restrictions. The delays in lifting most restrictions will feed the rage as the Government can no longer use the medical/science argument with any credibility.

Political mismanagement is not only endangering the community, but it puts the Police in a dangerous position as the risk to their own safety heightens.

The demands on the Chief Commissioner are onerous as he has not had the luxury of a passive transfer of leadership, and now he is faced with an even greater demand as we exit COVID.

It is very easy for Government to lift or apply a restriction, just, ‘flick the switch’, but the adjustments for business to comply are not simple, with supply lines and a myriad of other issues they need to deal with, and although the demands are different, policing has similar issues, which can be much more complex.

While a business needs to rebuild its customer base, some from scratch, so do the Police need to rebuild their relationships with the community.

We are of the view that Victoria Police members and the organization have done a really good job given the circumstances. Excluding the ‘potty-mouthed’, utterances of one Senior Executive, bringing discredit to the Uniform; we appreciate that many Police put themselves in harm’s way for our benefit. However, by necessity they have had to dip into their community credits.

Now the challenge for Victoria Police is to regain those credits by reconnecting with the community. Central to that reconnection is making sure the community understands the benefits of the proactive actions in relation to serious matters and understand that, while on the surface the police actions may seem over the top, but being open to the community with the steps that are taken to avoid erroneous pre-emptive actions is essential. That action is of itself proactive.

It is always better for the community that the police act to prevent crime rather than sit around waiting and then going about picking up the pieces, which until Patton was appointed seemed to have been the strategy.

The more effective proactive approach not only reduces the frequency and severity of crime, it dramatically reduces the number of people who have to deal with the trauma of crime as victims – that has to be a good thing?

We have seen Governments with their apparently endless access to resources stoking anger by failing to be frank and honest with the community. Policing faces an enormous challenge in this space; the approach Police adopt will define Policing for a long time to come.