Victoria police 'extremely disappointed' with two officers after climate protests

Lisa Cox

Victoria police have expressed “extreme disappointment” at the behaviour of two officers involved in policing climate change protests in Melbourne last week, after one was photographed with a sticker on his body camera and another was discovered to have posted “inappropriate memes” on his social media.

The same officer who posted the memes, which included Pepe the frog, was criticised this week after he was photographed making a hand gesture that Victoria police deny was the “white power” symbol.

Police have repeatedly stated the officer was directing an “are you OK” sign at two protesters who appeared distressed outside the International Mining and Resources Conference in Melbourne.

Related: Victoria police defend actions at Imarc mining protest after activist hospitalised

On Saturday, Victoria police said in a statement the officer had been reprimanded in relation to images posted on his personal Facebook page that are closely associated with online alt-right communities.

The statement came after the images were discovered online.

“Victoria police is aware of the ongoing commentary about a police officer who made a hand gesture at the protest earlier this week and previous posts on his social media page.

“In relation to the hand gesture, we have reviewed body worn camera footage of the incident and it’s inconclusive. The footage does not capture both sides of the interaction and is at times obscured by structures and people.

“We have spoken extensively to the officer in question and he has advised the hand gesture was simply the ‘are you OK’ sign directed at two protestors who looked distressed.

“In regards to his social media page, we are aware of a small number of posts which include inappropriate memes.

“Under no circumstances are these posts reflective of the values of Victoria police. The officer has been spoken to about these posts and, although they were made more than 12 months ago, he is aware of our extreme disappointment.”

Victoria police said it was assessing the material to decide if further action was required.

“While officers are entitled to have personal social media accounts, we do not want or expect them to be including content which may offend members of the community.”

The second officer is also being investigated after he was photographed at the same protests during the week wearing a sticker on his body camera that said “EAD hippy”.

The letters EAD commonly stand for “eat a dick”.

Victoria police confirmed over the weekend the photograph of the officer was legitimate.

“We have identified the police officer who was photographed at this week’s protest with a comment on his body worn camera and can confirm the image is real,” a spokesperson said.

“We are still working to ascertain how and why this comment was on his camera.

“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.”

“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 said the behaviour detracted from an “otherwise professionally conducted operation and tarnishes the reputation of all of our officers”.