14th of April 2024

The shocking event at Bondi Westfield and the horrific outcomes impact every Australian; our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who lost their lives or were injured in this vicious attack.

Equally, the horror of those thousands of people in the shopping complex hiding from evil in fear of losing their lives must never be underestimated, and we also grieve for their loss. While their loss may not be physical, however, the mental impact can be as severe.

The outstanding bravery of individuals must also be acknowledged. Seeing the perpetrator avoiding direct confrontation with the males who stood their ground really shows the weakness of the perpetrator, who was not prepared to confront his victims but attacked softer targets, usually from the rear.

The response by emergency services, particularly the Police, appeared to be outstanding and a credit to the New South Wales Police Force.

But no matter how good the police response was, it took one very brave and competent Inspector to end the horror and save many more lives.

Inspector Amy Scott, working one up, confronted the killer in a textbook response and put the perpetrator down with one shot.

Her actions will always be recorded as heroic as they should be, but would that same response have occurred in Victoria?

This question will spark substantial debate, but this brave member exposed some worrying anomalies in any comparison.

First and foremost, the effectiveness of any Police member is greatly influenced by the environment in which they work. If the organisation, as it is in Victoria, does not instil confidence in its members, then they are not likely to take risks, albeit that the risks are part of the job. The members need to know who has their back.

The defence of police acting in good faith must be reinforced and rebuilt in Victoria’s police culture. The citizens of Victoria would wholeheartedly endorse that philosophy.

In Victoria, a culture of doubt, driven by an administration intent on finding fault, has damaged the Force and its capacity to protect Victorians; poor leadership.

The most significant comparable incident in Victoria that comes to mind is the James Gargasoulas rampage in 2017 over two days, culminating in the death of six innocent Victorians and endangering the life of 27 others.

This carnage was avoidable, as the Police had known the perpetrator’s whereabouts for a considerable time during his escapade.

Glaring omissions were the lack of executive or high-ranking Police leadership intervention and the lack of confidence in Police to intervene when opportunities arose, and quite a few did.

It wasn’t until after the murders were committed that the Police took decisive action.

We would argue that this initial inaction was caused by a police organisational cultural problem. During that whole incident, no member was confident enough to act decisively, primarily for fear of internal retribution; nobody had their back.

The other significant takeout is that Amy was working one up, demonstrating the folly of Victoria’s strict two-up policy.

We doubt the same outcome would have been achieved had the Inspector had a partner of equal rank, proving the situation and the need to act in that case would have been clouded by second-guessing of the partners’ reactions, directly adversely affecting the safety of the member.

Victoria needs to dump the strict two-up policy and leave resource allocations to the discretion of the operational commander in any situation or function. Making unilateral operational decisions undermining front-line supervisors is counterproductive to efficient management.

This will coincidentally free up many more police and increase ‘boots on the ground’, improving the visibility of police presence and reducing crime while improving community safety perceptions.

A police Station that mans a Divisional Van, a Station car, and a supervisor, with a driver,= three cars; by changing the station car and using the Supervisors driver, that would equate to five vehicles rather than three, a dramatic increase in police visibility but under the direction of a supervisor. Multiple cars would attend high-risk situations, but once the problem is stabilised, the vehicles can all be cleared, leaving just one to complete any administration.

Service Efficiency substantially improved as will, Service Delivery.

We are not advocating reducing Police numbers, but by allowing one-up patrols, operational supervisors can put more cars on the road.

Providing additional cars is cheaper than additional Police.

This system works very well in Los Angeles.

Inspector Scott demonstrated that unfettered situational awareness is the most potent weapon in a police member’s arsenal. It leads to positive outcomes and increases the member’s safety.

Whether a Police member works alone or with others is a fine-line operational decision influenced by the member concerned, the circumstances, and the risk evaluation.

Engaging with their partner and distracting their situational awareness is the most significant risk to any police member in the field.

We call on Victoria Police to delegate the decision of Operations crew configurations to the Operational Supervisor of that shift.