An investigation has been launched by the Ethical Standards Command of Queensland Police after it was a revealed that a number of current and past police officers were members of a ‘disturbing’ Facebook group, littered with homophobic, sexist and racist posts.
First bought to light by a report published in The Australian, the “Defend the Blue” page was set up by a senior serving Queensland Police officer and has around 3,500 members – of those around half at some point have served as Queensland Police Service employees.
Confirming that an investigation was now underway, Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll told 4BC on Tuesday morning that the origins of the Facebook page had “good intentions” and included content about wellbeing and mental health advocacy group Beyond Blue.
Carroll went on to tell 4BC that a small group had shared “very concerning” views, that she described as “horrible, racist, sexist things that are quite defamatory, harmful to us as an organisation, harmful to the community.”
One post showed an image of a blue line running through text that said, “we, the unappreciated, must do the unimaginable and see the unthinkable to protect the ungrateful”.
There were posts that reportedly showed support for police officer Zach Rolfe, who is currently on trial for the shooting death and murder of 19-year-old Indigenous Walpiri man, Kumanjayi Walker.
An internal email circulated by Commissioner Carroll also confirmed that she had ordered an investigation into the material.
“I have become aware of inappropriate content on external social media pages linked to both current and former QPS members,” Carroll wrote.
“The content brought to my attention is incredibly concerning, disappointing and definitely does not reflect the values of our organisation or the majority of our people. Due to the nature and content of the posts, I must investigate and take any action appropriate to cease the continued publication of this highly inappropriate and offensive material.
“As QPS members, there is a significant risk when posting information on personal social media platforms that it could be perceived or misconstrued as information from an official source and/or sanctioned by the QPS. We also have obligations to adhere to the code of conduct when using these platforms in a personal capacity.”
Adding his weight to unfolding situation, Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski went on to also confirm that the matter was under investigation saying that Queensland Police were disappointed “as an organisation” about the Facebook posts.
“We expect our police officers to be completely professional and appropriate at all times,” Gollschewski said.
“Anyone that’s done the wrong thing can expect exactly what I say to the community. Do the right thing, otherwise it’s consequences.”
Thin Blue Line
This is not the first time that the Queensland Police finds itself being called out over social media posts.
“So you can wear a patch celebrating two men having sex but can’t wear the TBL.” the officer said:
Since news broke and attention towards the Facebook group has continued to grow over recent week, the ABC reported that on Monday it was flagged by administrators that the group would shut “within 24 hours”.
“It has been brought to my attention that there may have been some comments made of late about the handling and the government’s level of support for the fallen brother Dave Masters,” the administrators post read, referring to a senior constable who was killed in a fatal hit and run in Queensland this year.
“Some comments could or may not comply with the service’s code of conduct. I am very proud in the way this group has been able to support officers in need, officers feeling they didn’t have a voice or could speak about issues concerning them with our job.”
“I am going to close this site down, it must be made clear. At no time has this group been named or shamed for any breaches. But as it has been from day one, the best interest for the blue family is my number one priority,” the post added.