Victoria Police are currently investigating an officer was photographed with an “EAD Hippy” sticker covering his body camera at the recent anti-mining protests in Melbourne.
The image went viral after claims of excessive force by police have arisen at the controversial IMARC protest at Melbourne Convention Centre on Thursday.
A protester at the event, Kate Thompson posted the images to Facebook, alongside a number of videos to support her claim that authorities were hiding their cameras and identification. She claims this illustrates a “problematic culture amongst the police,” according to The Age.
“From what I saw it is clear to me that there is a culture amongst police to conceal their badges and support other officers in doing so,” she said in the post.
Victoria Police have confirmed that the image is genuine, and have released a statement saying it is “extremely disappointed” in the incident.
Although the sticker did not obstruct the view of the camera, law enforcement officers probably shouldn’t have “eat a dick” written across their chest on the job.
The officer has been identified by Victoria Police and the incident is now being investigated by the Professional Standards Command, where disciplinary action will be considered.
Victoria Police will be investigating the matter further with involvement from Professional Standards Command and disciplinary action will be considered as part of this.
— Victoria Police (@VictoriaPolice) November 1, 2019
“We are still working to ascertain how and why this comment was on his camera,” the Victoria Police statement said. “The community can be reassured this is not the type of behaviour we expect from our officers and we are extremely disappointed by the situation.”
Vitoria Police then went on to discuss how the rogue officer detracted from the “professionally conducted” operation at IMARC.
“This behaviour detracts from what was otherwise a professionally conducted operation and tarnishes the reputation of all of our officers.”
“We are disappointed that such a silly and inappropriate comment has distracted from the essential work that our members undertook during a prolonged and frustrating protest to safeguard people attending,”
The force has also defended the actions of officers at the protests after allegations surfaced that protesters were the victims of “unprovoked” violence including the use of pepper spray and batons. According to the ABC, police have defended the use of “palm strikes”, a technique used to forcefully remove protesters without risking the safety of officers.
“This is a commonly applied clearance move in dynamic public order scenarios which is designed to create distance from police … so that both police and protesters can be protected from further violence,” a police spokeswoman said.
The conduct of Victoria Police during the IMARC protests has been questionable at best, with footage showing a number of instances of excessive force by officers.
It is unclear whether the officer in question has been temporarily removed from duty while an investigation takes place. Victoria Police will consider disciplinary action but it is currently unknown what this may involve. We’ll be sure to keep you updated if and when action is taken against the officer in question.