Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Low life Victorian police exposed

THE Office of Police Integrity has won an award for its role in a controversial probe into a racist and pornographic email scandal that rocked Victoria Police. Eight officers were sacked and at least another 13 were demoted or fined over the scandal.

Healesville sergeant Tony Vangorp took his life in March last year after he was suspended and told he faced the sack over inappropriate emails.

Three officers were involved in circulating video footage of an Indian man being electrocuted and suggesting it could be a way to fix Melbourne's Indian student problem. The scandal made headlines in India in October after the Herald Sun revealed details of that video.

The investigation was one of the most controversial in the force's history, dividing members over the seriousness of the officers' actions and what should happen to them. Those sacked included a long-serving member of the Ethical Standards Department and three sergeants.

The first batch of offensive emails were discovered during an OPI investigation of another matter. The OPI then had an oversight role during Victoria Police's investigation, Operation Barrott.

Offensive emails identified during Barrott's sweep of the police computer network contained pornographic, homophobic, racist and violent material, but nothing illegal, such as child porn.

The Institute of Public Administration awarded the OPI the Australia Award for Risk Management.

OPI director Michael Strong said a program had been developed to assist police in assessing the relative gravity of the behaviour of hundreds of police members caught in Operation Barrott.

He said some of the emails detected in the operation had depicted graphic violence, which was at times linked to racial slurs. "What we set out to do was to establish a matrix against which the behaviour of police members could be measured to try to ensure fair and consistent outcomes in the discipline process," he said.


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