Police use under surveillance

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In the three years since an Assistant Police Commissioner in Victoria was exposed as a racist and homophobic online troll, 120 more complaints have been filed regarding the use of social media by officers.

Victoria’s broad-based independent Anti-Corruption Commission on Tuesday released its report into the corruption and malpractice of former ethics executive Brett Guerin.

Mr Guerin left the police force in early 2018 after being linked to racist comments on YouTube and inappropriate remarks about former Chief Police Commissioner Christine Nixon and former Police Association boss. Victorian font Paul Mullett.

While the IBAC discovered that Mr. Guerin had posted “racist and homophobic” messages on social media under pseudonyms, no criminal charges were laid for the conduct.

The commission recommended that Victoria Police review their social media policies and recruiting systems.

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However, in June 2021, the IBAC said it had received 120 allegations related to police use of social media since 2018.

Additionally, Victoria Police did not finalize their updated policy until June of this year.

“Although the Victoria Police Force has strengthened its policies, systems and practices in response to Operation Turon, the unauthorized disclosure of information, including through social media, remains a serious and enduring risk of misconduct for Victoria Police, ”said IBAC Commissioner Robert Redlich.

“This is evidenced by the complaints that IBAC continues to receive and by a recent high profile case which has resulted in charges against several police officers for their role in disseminating police information regarding a person in custody. “

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Tuesday’s report revealed that Mr. Guerin had engaged in police misconduct through his online trolling “both on and off duty.”

Trolling has brought discredit to his decision-making and that of the Victoria Police Force, and his length of service in the force was deemed “an aggravating element” of the misconduct.

The IBAC said it used Victoria Police systems to commit some of the trolling, as well as information obtained in his role as Deputy Commissioner of Victoria Police Professional Standards Command.

He recommended that Victoria Police consider psychometric testing as part of the process of promoting leadership positions within the organization, including reviewing the training of Professional Standards Command investigators.

The IBAC found no evidence that Mr. Guerin’s decision-making as deputy commissioner was compromised by underlying beliefs or opinions.

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Mr. Guerin accepted the IBAC’s findings and said trolling was a “lesson for others” that there was “no anonymity on the Internet and nothing published should be considered temporary “.

“Expressing yourself on social media is an unnecessary and ultimately destructive way of dealing with the stress you are facing,” he said in a statement published in the report.

He said the report’s findings “might give some assurance” that he was not influenced by “latent racism or homophobia” in the performance of his duties, and apologized to the police from Victoria.

A spokeswoman for Victoria Police Force said they “recognize the findings and will consider the recommendations”.

-AAP