Victoria Police have apologised for the homophobic harassment of former police officer Michael Maynes.
Maynes joined the Victorian police force in 2008 but resigned in 2011. Three years later, the former officer took his own life.
Fairfax Media reported Maynes had not been openly gay at work and a police and coronial investigation – prompted by Maynes’ Victoria Police colleagues – found he had endured harassment from other Victoria Police members over his sexuality.
The harassment Maynes experienced allegedly included homophobic taunts, intrusive questioning and hundreds of searches of Maynes’ personal details and details of housemates in police databases.
Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius told the ABC the investigation found the colleagues’ behaviour escalated after Maynes exercised his right to privacy and he was the subject of “numerous jokes, sexist remarks and commentary in relation to his sexuality.”
While the investigation did not find Maynes’ suicide was because of the bullying, it found he was subjected to “unwarranted and inappropriate comments and behaviours by certain members of Victoria Police.”
Cornelius said Maynes had been “treated terribly”.
“He was the subject of homophobic behaviour that was back then and is now completely unacceptable,” he said.
“We are deeply sorry.”
Maynes’ father Robert told Fairfax he believed the harassment contributed to his son’s mental health issues, his methamphetamine use and subsequent suicide.
“The police force started the ball rolling. They started it,” he said.
“Michael was never on drugs, never had an issue until he joined the police force and it just snowballed.”
Robert said his son had dreamed of being a police officer and “absolutely loved” the job.
“But it became torture. It was just torture for him every day going to work,” he said.
Cornelius said 11 members had been investigated in relation to allegations about their conduct and six were exonerated.
“We identified that three of those members had in fact resigned from our organisation prior to the investigation commencing,” he said.
“One other member was found to have engaged in conduct that was a breach of discipline and so he was admonished.”
He said the member accused of unauthorised access and disclosure of information resigned during the investigation.
He said some police officers in Victoria still held “jaundiced and inappropriate” views about LGBTI people.
“We have an absolute commitment to being very clear to our workforce at large that these behaviours won’t be tolerated and these people will be held to account,” he said.
“There is no place for them in Victoria Police.”
Cornelius said Victoria Police expect to release an LGBTI inclusion strategy and action plan on the International Day Against Homophobia in May.
If you need support, please call QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.
(Photo via Victoria Police/Facebook)