The Role of the Police During the Pandemic

An important question that begs an answer with regard to the role of the police during the last two years of the pandemic is whether the police have acted independently in operational matters. Police independence in operational matters is of utmost importance to ensure a separation of powers between the police and the Government and the integrity of the democracy we enjoy. (Lewis, 2019)

If the separation of powers is not maintained, then the thin blue line between the police and the Government is blurred and the long arm of the law turns into the strong arm of Government.

One of the few times there was evidence of police independence in operational matters came when the Andrews’ Government placed a ban on the use of playgrounds in Victoria; I guess you have to draw the line somewhere (Coe and Flower, 2021).

Further evidence that the separation of powers had become blurred comes from, a now ex-policewoman, acting senior sergeant Krystle Mitchell at the time of the interview on the discernable channel and can be seen at the 36 to 39 minutes section of the interview (Discernable, 2021)

Police independence in operational matters would have seen police stay true to their role to serve the community and uphold the law, so as to foster a safe and orderly society.  This could have been achieved by police educating and directing the public with regards to the chief Health Officers directives, by using occupational safety tactics to diffuse a situation.  Instead, because the police were acting more like Government enforcers, public confidence and trust in the police has been eroded by the brutality of the police towards the public as is shown by this article (Flower, 2020).

 This will take a very long time to be restored to a respectable level and can only come about when the police remain true to their public mission to “serve the community and uphold the law”.  There is a chant heard at protests, directed at police and it goes like this “You serve us”.  Whilst this is how it is supposed to be, the role of the police during the pandemic has clearly shown that the police serve the Government and have abandoned their function of serving the people. A more apt chant would be “You are one of us”. This would be a more appropriate chant, since when the police uniform is removed, the police become a member of the public, just like you and I. 

The role of the police during the pandemic has been an active one, but it has been tied too closely to Government objectives at the expense of serving the public and upholding the law.  As a result, the police have not behaved as an independent institution in upholding the law, but have behaved more like government enforcers. It is hoped that we can learn from the experience of policing methods during the pandemic to ensure that there is a separation of police and state in the future, so that the police serve the true function of serving the people and upholding the law.

References:

Coe, C and Flower, W (2021). ‘Police boss blasts Andrews’ playground ban and controversial curfew’, Daily Mail. Available at: https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/police-boss-blasts-andrews-playground-ban-and-controversial-curfew/ar-AANqUbf

(Accessed 7 March 2022)

Discernable (2021), ‘Ethical policing in Victoria’, YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Kn6AFl5G1c (Accessed 12 March 2022).

Flower, W, (2020), ‘How lockdown ruined trust between Victorians and the boys in blue’, The Daily Mail, Available at:  https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8804709/New-poll-reveals-Victorians-no-longer-trust-police-force.html (Accessed, 8 March 2022)

Lewis, C, (2019) ‘An independent police force is essential to our democracy’, Sydney Morning Herald. Available at: https://www.open.ac.uk/library/referencing-and-plagiarism/quick-guide-to-harvard-referencing-cite-them-right (Accessed 9 March 2022)

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Responses

  1. When there is a change of government the public order response team should be stood down and dismantled, but that is just the start. There needs to be a public enquiry into the how and why it was set up and who, what was its mission, what psychological profile were they looking for in the front line, how many had a criminal record, what relationship between management and the criminal world. How many were from interstate or overseas, how many had many had been in military service. Who were the unmarked personnel in military garb with the “armoured ” personnel carriers. How are they paid, are they full time, do they work within the vicpol, no stone should be left unturned. I think we need to accept that justice will never be done for what they did, but the dark secrets that brought this brutal, evil force to manifest in Victoria need to be exposed to the light of day and to the general public.

  2. « A more apt chant would be “You are one of us”. This would be a more appropriate chant, since when the police uniform is removed, the police become a member of the public, just like you and I. »
    Above are 38 important words. The last is the most important. It is wrong. The extent of its wrongness makes the reader concentrate on the verbal sabotage rather than on what is trying to be said.

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