NSW Police Officers Abusing Facebook
Police Post Fake and Misleading Statements on “Sniff Off” Page
In 2001 a Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act for Drug Detection Dogs, also known as “The Drug Dog Act,” was put in place giving police the power to use dogs in prescribed public places to detect if a person is in possession of a prohibited drug.
In response to what Greens’ justice spokesman, David Shoebridge, says is a “grievous infringement on the private liberties” of members of the public; NSW Greens introduced its highly successful anti-drug detector dog ‘Sniff off’ campaign on Facebook back in October 2014, which gives people a way to warn each other about where the drug dog teams are patrolling.
David Shoebridge told Vice that the Greens campaign was established to build a “mass movement” against sniffer dogs, because even though sniffer dogs were meant to effectively target drug supply, according to the Ombudsman’s report, only “1.38% of all indications resulted in ‘deemed supply’ quantity.”
As Shoebridge says “the use of dogs is ineffective at catching drug dealers but excellent at violating civil liberties.”
It seems the mass movement is working because since February of this year, a group of NSW police officers have been caught trawling the Greens sniff off site and posting misleading comments about the sniffer dogs’ locations. For example, according to Vice, on February 29 and March 7 Officers commented on status updates that advised of drug dogs’ presence at Sydenham and Liverpool stations insisting that the dogs were not there.
“Yeah nothing to see here,” wrote one beneath the February status.
“Still nothing,” replied another.
Followers were leery of the discrepancies in the drug dog reporting so Sniff off admins, according to Vice, investigated only to find that all three men who made the fake posts were Facebook friends and a further Google search revealed that two of the three men were NSW Police officers.
If sniffer dogs are so effective, why are members of the NSW police trawling sniff off sites and posting misleading comments about the location of sniffer dogs?
David Shoebridge said the Facebook posts were a “clear breach of police policies,” and wrote to NSW police commissioner, Andrew Scipione requesting a formal investigation into the matter. According to the NSW police force code of conduct and ethics, employees must “behave honestly and in a way that upholds the values and the good reputation of NSW police whether on or off duty.”
In 2006 the NSW Ombudsman, Bruce Barbour, reviewed the Police Powers (Drug Detection Dogs) Act 2001 and found “that despite the best efforts of police officers, the use of drug detection dogs has proven to be an ineffective tool for detecting those supplying prohibited drugs. Overwhelmingly, the use of drug detection dogs has led to public searches of individuals in which no drugs were found, or to the detection of (mostly young) adults in possession of very small amounts of cannabis for personal use.”
If the NSW police are so confident that sniffer dogs are effective then why are they going online and trying to, what some might consider, entrap members of the public by posting misleading and fake information about the location of sniffer dogs?
The Online Abuse of MP Jenny Leong by NSW Police- Revenge or just Rasict/Homophobic/Sexist?
Could it be because, as critics of drug detection dogs say, it has been a complete failure? NSW Greens MP Jenny Leong introduced a private members bill to amend the ‘Drug Dog Act’ through the proposed Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Amendment (Sniffer Dogs—Repeal of Powers) Bill 2015, on May 28 of last year. Ms. Leong says in an article in the Guardian that the sniffer dog program “not only breaches civil liberties it leads to thousands of young people being ‘humiliated’ for no reason, which might be why the Sniff off page is becoming increasingly popular with currently 17,580 likes.
Now in what some consider retaliation, evidence has shown according to the Sydney Morning Herald, that Ms. Leong is being harassed by “serving members of the NSW Police Force, including a Central Metropolitan Region officer who has been suspended, for engaging in online racist and sexist harassment of Ms. Leong by “posting racist, homophobic and sexually degrading posts” about her on Facebook.
Even though the Police Integrity Commission has agreed to investigate the allegations of “police misconduct,” these recent online actions of members of the NSW police department “undermines the public’s confidence in the ability of police to do their jobs professionally and impartially.”
It also as raises questions as the editorial highlights about whether the “culture of the police force continues to condone or even encourage racism, sexism and bullying.”
Under the policy and guidelines for personal use of social media, officers are told to abstain from posting “any material that may bring the NSW police force into disrepute, or otherwise embarrass the agency.”