License to shoot: Police given new powers in reaction to CBD attacks
The police union has told Neil Mitchell a new policy allowing officers to open fire on “hostile” vehicles could have assisted police in preventing the Bourke Street massacre.
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In what’s being described as an Australian first, Victoria Police today announced explicit guidelines empowering officers to take decisive action in the event of a hostile vehicle attack.
Among the tactical options: ramming, roadblocks (which may involve large trucks) and, as a last resort, opening fire.
The new policy comes almost two years after the deadly Flinders Street attack, and almost three years since James Gargasoulas mowed down dozens of pedestrians, killing six, on Bourke Street.
Online training for officers begins in December, with face-to-face training to start in January.
Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said Victoria Police consulted extensively with The Police Association and is confident the new policy will provide clarity to officers on how they can respond to these situations.
“Protecting the community is our number one priority and by releasing this policy we are trusting our officers to assess the situation and act accordingly.
“In fact, the new policy explicitly states the expectation of our police that they must take action to prevent death or serious injury.”
The hostile vehicle policy does not replace the current pursuit policy, although there may be circumstances where a pursuit evolves into a hostile vehicle attack.