Victoria Police says it is committed to maintaining both the right to free speech and social cohesion, while keeping everyone in all communities safe during this difficult time.
Priority and Safer Communities Division Commander Jo Stafford told The AJN that everyone has the right to peacefully and safely express their views under the Charter of Human Rights, and the police enforce the law equally among all individuals, without bias towards anyone’s background.
“It’s vital people are not only safe but feel safe, which is why we’ll continue to be out and about. Whether it’s patrolling the streets, visiting schools, or attending places of worship, police will be highly visible and are well equipped to respond to any issues,” she said.
Stafford met with Jewish community leaders at Beth Weizmann recently and was told it is important to provide support and ensure the community feels safe amid social media-induced fears about safety in public spaces.
Stafford said, “When the conflict broke out, we established a spreadsheet of all of the Jewish and Islamic schools and synagogues, places of worship, places of congregation and we disseminated that across the state.
“And we’ve got the police operation centre that’s been stood up here in Melbourne, which now has a strategic oversight of the whole state of Victoria.”
She said frontline Police officers are being asked to be seen out and about.
“Whether it’s school time or pick-up time, whether it’s as the service ends at the local synagogue, [to] be there and be present, interact with people, talk to them, understand what their concerns are, and provide support and advice to people within the community,” she said.