6th of June 2022
Recently the Community Advocacy Alliance Inc. (CAA) criticised the use by Victoria Police of Bean Bag projectiles in crowd control. We stand by that criticism. https://caainc.org.au/bean-bags-and-plastic-baton-munitions-are-not-the-way-for-crowd-control/
In our view, they must never be deployed in crowd control situations like in Elizabeth Street and the Shrine during COVID related demonstrations or where people are undergoing psychotic episodes. And then only when all other avenues are exhausted, and there is an imminent danger to Police or others.
It has been alleged that many Police were injured in these demonstrations, hence the justification for Bean Bag munitions.
If they were, it had more to do with poor or ineffective Command and Control leaving Police vulnerable. There was substantial evidence on the nightly news that Command and Control were regularly failing, and when it does, that is when most Police are injured.
The police executives are singularly and solely responsible.
The Victoria Police has a sophisticated surveillance capacity and can live stream detailed action to a command center in real-time. But unfortunately, the executives either didn’t bother to look or didn’t recognise the failings unfolding before them and how to deal with them, incompetency.
Repeat performances showed that they clearly took no action. But it is unclear if the Bean Bag use was authorised or who authorised their deployment.
As with the Bourke Street massacre there appears to be a deliberate policy for the Executive Command not to take a leadership role. With the plethora of executive level Officers in VicPol, surely the lessons would have been learnt from Bourke Street and any number of other Police incidents that effective Operational Command and Control is essential and delegating that responsibility totally to the lowest ranks is a unacceptable and an abrogation of responsibility.
The Elizabeth Street foray was not a few random shots but allegedly sustained and repetitious fire of many rounds, a yippee shoot requiring additional ammunition to be sourced.
Bean Bag projectiles are munitions that can cause serious injury, with the possibility of fatal consequences.
They are not simply a corduroy shoe polisher filled with beans instead of fabric. They are twelve-gauge shotgun cartridges with nine-shot lead pellets and various other materials depending on the brand of the round used.
Marketed by suppliers as non-lethal, they can only be described, at best, as potentially less lethal; they are serious munitions.
The graphic photographs depicted here show just how dangerous these projectiles are and the damage that can be caused to one person by just three rounds of the six fired, reinforcing that these rounds are wildly inaccurate, making unintended outcomes a severe risk.
The extreme danger of the proximity to major organs and arteries cannot be discounted.
While the incident resulting in these wounds was not crowd control related, the physical harm suffered by the individual concerned, who was heavily intoxicated and undergoing a psychotic episode, amply illustrates the recklessness of using Bean Bag munitions as the go-to weapon.
Victoria Snelgrove, a twenty-two-year-old student bystander to a Boston demonstration, was shot in the eye with a bean bag round and died shortly after. The Officer involved claimed he was aiming at somebody else.
We also reject the defence of the use of bean bags when dealing with patients undergoing a psychotic episode, that psych services are not readily available in the real world of policing; this is an operational reality that management must address and resolve.
Standard operating procedures mean Police are often screaming at a suspect for compliance, which exacerbates any psychotic episode. We accept that Police do not always know if a suspect has the propensity for such outbursts, but part of the police procedure should be to make an effort to find out.
Although it is not always practical, expeditious resolution of an issue where nobody is in direct threat of harm should not be the objective. Instead, the safe resolution for the Police, the community, and the patient/perpetrator must be the primary consideration.
Most importantly, Executive Officers, theoretically the most experienced and capable, often do not assume command in serious incidents; why not?
This is yet another example of where the Executive is letting down the Operational members by not ensuring they are adequately resourced and supported. In these operational matters, a lack of psych resources and effective command and control could be the difference between life or death for the Police or the patient.
Police must be satisfied that all other available resources, including de-escalation techniques and Mental Health Services, are deployed before using these weapons.
The use of containment, not engagement, must be the first option.
The CAA again calls on the Victoria Police to review their policy on the use of potentially lethal weapons where Police members or others are not at imminent life-threatening risk.
On the matter of policy, and to properly inform, we have made a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to view the current policy on using these munitions. The information is not operationally sensitive and should be within the knowledge of the community.
We have been told that the information requested will not be available within the statutory four weeks but hopefully within twenty-seven weeks.
Over six months is a deliberate strategy designed to make inquiries disappear or lose relevance.
If they cannot be dealt with in the four weeks, then it is another management failure by VicPol, and nothing will change until the responsible Executive is held to account, not some clerk.
The new political Parties are saying they are going to change the Laws but they all do not know what
is involved as the Laws have been changed so much that to change them would take many years so that
would not work.
The UN has been very smart in the way the Laws have been changed and by the time the Laws are
changed to what they should be the time has passed.
The UN will have got control of Australia and then it is too late.
What the new parties must do is remove all the Laws and replace them with the Laws of about 1980 to
1990’s and amend them to comply with todays times, I mean the Acts (Laws made by Parliament).
What the new Parliament must understand is in 1990’s the High Court Act was about 50-60 pages
long but now it is about 600 pages long. It is not only the High Court Acts it is all the Acts.
To try and make all those changes would take years and that is too long, so replace them.
To amend Laws that are about 60 pages long would be much simpler than to amend Laws that are 600
pages long. An old saying: “Simplicity first”.
It would seem the Liberals, Labor and Greens have allegiance to a foreign power.
Given that the use of bean-bag munitions can cause death, and does cause serious bodily injury, VicPol must have a policy on operational use of such a weapon, and the community must have access to that policy. Bean-bag weapons are firearms and their usage should be controlled in the same manner as traditional Police firearms. It points to cover-up or mischief, possibly even political influence, that a FOI request for such a policy cannot be readily produced. I hope that CAA continue to pursue this matter in the interests of fairness and safety for both operational police and the community.
absolutely disgraceful and weak of vicpol to use those weapons on people simply protesting about the overreach of the Govt’s in this State/Country. This isn’t China, yet , and this scenario is more China than here you would hope.
Are the Vicpol executive utterly blind to the damage they are causing for their members on the streets and in the public eye? It’s all very well for political masters to want sterner measures, safe and remote in their ivory towers, but it is the officer in the street and in the community that has to go to each call out now under the new giant neon arrow, hand crafted by the socially inert to be tared with the brush of ‘all the same’; willing and insensate brutes of the insulated elite. Great: if the outcome Vicpol executives and the current deviant government want, is to place otherwise dedicated and (if one considers why these lower ranked officers chose this career path above advertising and accountancy) ‘brave’ individuals deeper in harms way and marked ‘dangerous’ in the eyes of the public they protect, then hats off to Vicpol, as their members now have the same optics as far as the average public is concerned, as a storm trooper in 1942. Lets face it, the move to black uniforms was just the beginning of separation from the noble and well established connection for the general public. Boys in blue has now become bastards in black for many. The harder applications of rule and lower tolerance escalations have also made the average public very ‘not’ pro police. Vicpol are supposed to be making the front line police member the “go to” person in the community, not the “run the hell away from” villain. Perhaps they have been rubbing shoulders with the Government for too long and have forgotten that their path and the Government’s path should always be very separate, particularly if its Government members and their appointed individuals choose to emulate past criminal organizations and dictatorships of old and so should never ever stray, let alone merge.