This afternoon at 16:16 I had a 12’27” call to Fitzroy Police Station to inform the Sergeant about the conduct of a Senior Constable whose name was not Vogon.
The call was handled professionally so I hope the problem will be dealt with. I was asked at the end whether I would like to be called back with any follow up. I said that would not be necessary as I am merely informing the Sergeant about behaviour that should be confirmed by the other officer present and would be likely to be part of on an ongoing pattern. But I am available to provide evidence if needed.
These notes are not about the call but concern the incident I was calling about, while the facts are still fresh, in case there is need to assist further. I have added humorous embellishments for the benefit of other readers.
A little after 15:30 pm this afternoon I was sitting at a table in a public park close to my current accommodation eating a cookie and reading channel 9 Entertainment’s daily newspaper. My face visor and walking stick were clearly visible on the table, as was the cookie.
I saw two police officers approaching and put on both the visor and an N75 mask in view of the likelihood that they intended to come close enough to speak to me and therefore too close. They did.
One of them introduced himself as a Vogon seconded from the Vogon constructor fleet to assist the Murdoch press in discrediting the Victorian police. He did this by requesting that I remove my face mask so that he would be able to hear me speak clearly.
I’m not sure that I emphasized that clearly enough in conversation with the Sergeant. Just think about the newspaper headlines in “The Sun”. Dictator Dan’s police patrol public parks demanding that people remove their face masks! This isn’t some ordinarily incompetent bullying SC, but somebody quite “special”. He is either being paid to provoke people or he cannot help himself.
He made this quite breaktaking request in the manner of an exceptionally polite Vogon. I had no difficulty in suppressing my amusement and responding politely that I would keep my mask on and he would be able to understand anything I said.
My best guess is that he had been rather looking forward to lecturing me about the need to have my mask on and then exercising “leniency” by just giving me a warning and felt frustrated about my having put the mask on before he arrived, jumped to the conclusion that I had done so to avoid the lecture rather than because I would do so before conversing with anybody at all and was just too dumb to figure out some less bizarre opening remark.
A much less plausible theory is that if I had removed the mask he could then have delivered the lecture and issued an infringement notice that would inevitably be challenged. That would require actual collaboration from the other officer. I saw no sign of that. There was no direct intervention by the other officer. Whoever was senior, it would not be unusual for officers to avoid intervention against each other in public despite bizarre behaviour. It is interesting to encounter one officer behaving like SC Vogon, but two actually supporting each other in asking people to remove their masks so they could issue infringment notices for not wearing them seems a lot less likely.
Anyway, the other police officer avoided any potential escalation of the absurdity by professionally asking for my name, address and date of birth. I mentioned that I walked to and from the park for exercise, wore my mask only when entering shops and had removed the visor for eating. I was told that they were looking for somebody else involved in an incident nearby who matched my description. I complied, with the request, also mentioning that my name was not the same on my driver’s licence and that I was very young at the time of my birth and was only repeating what I had been told since.
SC Vogon stood further back while this was proceeding. I would guess this is standard infection control procedure and it was certainly welcome.
But when the other officer had finished and was prepared to leave he stepped forward and took over, demanding to know why I was in the park. I responded that I had already given the other officer the information required. He said that there were only four valid reasons to be out and I was required to leave immediately. I told him that I had downloaded and was thoroughly familiar with the CHO directions of July 19 and was in full compliance with those directions.
“Stay At Home Directions (Restricted Areas) (No 3):
- Leaving premises for exercise or outdoor recreation
(1) Note 1. …Examples: Outdoor recreation includes sitting in a park…”
SC Vogon said that he was requiring me to pack up and leave immediately and that if I did not do so he would issue an infringement notice. I said that I would be making a formal complaint about him and would not be leaving until he provided his name and number. He did so before leaving and his Sergeant now has them.
If the other officer is truthful the Sergeant will know that SC Vogon engaged in two criminal offences:
- Abusing his membership of the Police Force to demand removal of the face mask of a person he knew to be over 70 and especially vulnerable to covid-19. Nobody stupid enough to go around asking anybody at all to remove their face masks in response to a directive requiring face covering should remain in the police force.
- Threatening to issue an infringement notice to a person sitting in a park by themselves, knowing that he had no authority to do so whatever. Nobody up themselves enough to go around doing that should remain in the police force.
I am in favour of rigorously enforcing public health directions in a pandemic emergency. Doing so requires removing saboteurs like SC Vogon from the police force.
It would be surprising if this behaviour is not part of a pattern that others can confirm and that any random Sergeant in any police station would want to stop.
So I am leaving it to the internal administrative processes.
But if there is some subsequent inquiry as to why SC Vogon was not dismissed before he caused real damage, my contemporaneous notes of what was known to his Seargeant about him as of today will be available.