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Having read the internal report and closely followed the coronial inquest, it is my firm belief the police officers responding to this incident acted in good faith based on the information available to them.
The reality is, no one could have predicted the outcome. There had never been a hostile vehicle attack in Australia and our members had never dealt with a similar situation.
However, with the benefit of hindsight, it is clear there were some shortcomings in our operational response.
Based on interviews conducted internally and at the inquest, I am aware some police officers felt they would not be supported if they actively tried to stop the offender’s vehicle. Regardless of whether the vehicle could have been stopped before coming into the city, the fact is some of our members felt uncertain if they would be supported in taking more forceful and decisive action.
This is not how we want our police officers to feel. Community safety is our number one priority, which is why it was so important that we addressed this issue as soon as possible.
Over the past four years we have introduced a number of new response teams and policies to directly deal with critical incidents like this. This includes SOG’s Quick Response Force (September 2017), the CIRT security teams (December 2017) and a new hostile vehicle attack policy (October 2019).
While it is impossible to speculate whether any of these changes would have stopped the devastating outcome on 20 January 2017, the community should know we are committed to doing everything we can to prevent an incident like this from occurring again.
Now the coronial inquest findings have been released, we will take the time to read this report in detail and consider the nine recommendations for Victoria police.