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Call to charge NSW police officers who trolled Newtown Greens MP Jenny Leong

Jenny Leong was subjected to racist and sexist posts on social media, many from serving police officers. Photo: James Alcock Jenny Leong described the hate campaign by a group of police officers as “completely unacceptable”. Photo: Louise Kennerley
Nanjing Night Net

Newtown MP Jenny Leong celebrates her win at the 2015 NSW election. Photo: James Alcock

Criminal charges will be recommended against the Sydney police officers who spearheaded a cyber bullying campaign against Greens MP Jenny Leong.

Fairfax Media understands the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) is finalising a brief of evidence for the NSW Director of Public Prosecution which will advocate criminal prosecutions against two serving officers.

The recommendations are the result of a six-month PIC inquiry, Operation Colchester, which has also found that several other police employees engaged in “questionable contact” when they targeted the state member for Newtown with a stream of racist and sexist slurs.

The PIC probe was prompted by a Fairfax Media investigation which revealed how officers from Sydney City Local Area Command, Kings Cross, Bankstown, Cabramatta – and even within senior management – had all contributed to the hate campaign while shielding their identities under the cloak of social media pseudonyms.

On Friday, Ms Leong welcomed the police watchdog’s referral of the case for possible criminal charges: “It’s pretty simple really, the police are supposed to protect people in the community from harm, not perpetrate it.

“The public nature of the incident means it is equally essential that the findings of PIC are made public and any subsequent actions to deal with the behaviour of police are also handled independently.

“Without the transparency and accountability that an independent commission can provide, how can the public – especially those at risk of discriminatory attacks due to their race, sex, sexual identity – have confidence in the police?”

The PIC confirmed in July that Operation Colchester would investigate allegations of “police misconduct” that arose after March 18 when Ms Leong’s office posted a photo on her official Facebook page condemning two officers seen patrolling a train with Tasers and drug-detection dogs.

A day earlier, Ms Leong had introduced a bill to the NSW lower house aimed at ending the use of sniffer dogs in public spaces without a warrant. Her Facebook post read: “This kind of harassment and intimidation is exactly what the Greens’ bill is aiming to stop.”

Hours later, a Facebook user fired off a public message, under a fake name, which read: “Wow Jenny. It was a clear mistake when your father spotted your mother across a crowded swamp and dragged her back to his hut to make you.”

Fairfax Media later unmasked that individual as a NSW Central Metropolitan Region police sergeant who had been posting satanic, homophobic and sexually degrading material across social media long before he turned on Ms Leong. Since police hierarchy viewed those posts in April, the officer has remained suspended from duty.

A day after his opening attack on Ms Leong, the sergeant switched his personal profile picture to a modified image of the Newtown MP and wrote an offensive caption. Not only did the photo generate 45 likes, it became the stage for a slew of sickening posts by a host of other police employees. Another officer, who was traced back to the same inner city station, re-posted the sergeant’s image of Ms Leong with the text: “One condom could have prevented this from happening.”

The meme was liked by at least four other police personnel – including a senior manager working in police headquarters. As the vulgar police trolling went viral, officers celebrated the provocation, with one stating: “She is still copping a smashing – love it!”

News of the PIC recommendations comes a week after Fairfax Media revealed the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW had “accepted for investigation” individual complaints from four gay police officers who were allegedly targeted in a undercover drug operation by senior hierarchy because of their sexuality.

All four men who were based in Ms Leong’s constituency of Newtown, claim the sting was part of a wider culture of “homophobic prejudice” ingrained within the command.

Based on “serious supposition”, an eight man strike force, codenamed Andro, was assembled to compile “behavioral” intelligence on the men, intercept their communications and carry out surveillance in bars they “regularly visited”. But after six months, the costly investigation found “no direct evidence of drug use” or “related misconduct”.

Christian McDonald, Christopher Sheehy, Shane Housego and Steven Rapisarda are now fighting the force over access to the investigation file which they believe will expose “discriminatory motivation by management”.

In a further development last week, Ms Leong wrote to the NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Justice and Police, Troy Grant, requesting an “urgent meeting” about the case.

“When four officers from the one command make such a complaint, this is indicative of a wider cultural problem within the NSW Police Force that must be addressed,” she wrote.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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