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Home / Outcomes / 2022 Summaries of Police Investigations

Tasman District: Police officer incited harassment on social media

25 August 2022

The complainant contacted senior Police officers by e-mail to complain about comments made by an officer (the subject officer) on a social media page which the complainant believed were unprofessional.

The subject officer then posted on the social media page a meme depicting the slapping incident between actors Will Smith and Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars Awards, together with his own comment. The subject officer said the complainant had sent e-mails regarding his prior posts to senior officers and he encouraged other members of the Facebook group to e-mail the complainant. The subject officer posted the complainant’s e-mail address and name resulting in the complainant receiving abusive e-mails. The subject officer also e-mailed a copy of the meme to the complainant directly from his personal e-mail address.

The complainant then complained to the same senior officers to complain about the subject officer’s recent actions.

Police determined the subject officer’s actions were inappropriate and had breached the complainant’s privacy, but they did not consider it necessary to conduct a full investigation. Police apologised to the complainant for what happened and addressed the subject officer’s behaviour by way of an employment process.

The Authority disagrees with the Police decision not to conduct a proper investigation into what happened as in our view an investigation was the appropriate process to scrutinise the subject officer’s behaviour and motivations and assess his conduct. Police failed to appropriately consult with the Authority before deciding not to investigate this matter. Police acknowledge and accept this finding.

This matter was not referred to the Authority within the time required by section 15 of the Independent Police Conduct Authority Act 1988. It was not until a media article about the incident was published several months later, that the matter was referred. Police acknowledge and accept they failed to promptly notify the Authority and did not provide an adequate explanation for the failure.

Police have made changes to their internal disciplinary model to establish a centralised decision-making-forum. Police believe this will ensure prompt referral for notifiable matters and improved lines of communication with the Authority in the future. Tasman District has now been integrated into this model

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