Victoria police assocition secretary Wayne Gatt has weighed in on the controversial arrest of a pregnant woman in Ballarat, defending the officers’ actions and calling on the public to show them “sympathy”.
Speaking on the Today show, Mr Gatt defended the police officers who went viral online after a video of them arresting a pregnant mother in front of her kids was posted to social media.
Zoe-Lee Buhler, 28, was arrested for incitement over a Facebook post that allegedly encouraged a prohibited gathering in Ballarat on Saturday.
Victoria Police has faced backlash across the country and even internationally over the video, which has been viewed more than 7.5 million times online.
“You wouldn’t believe the amount of things that come out of the blue with search warrants,” Mr Gatt said on Friday morning.
“They have to take reasonable precautions, but I’ll say this, those handcuffs were off nearly as soon as they were on that person in custody, once that scene had been secured.
“They have then made phone calls to the hospital to make a fresh appointment for that person so she could have her ultrasound, allowed her time to get dressed. They really did treat this person with dignity and respect and acted very professionally.”
Mr Gatt said police were copping unfair backlash.
“We have to have a little bit of sympathy for the police in this, they are not making up the rules, these aren’t their rules or restrictions, but they have got a job to do,” he said.
“They don’t choose to do that, they would much prefer to be doing other things right now as we stand here.
“They are on checkpoints, doing quarantine checks. They would much rather be out there lowering the road toll, helping victims of domestic violence for example.”
Mr Gatt went on to say he was worried about Victorian police officers.
“I’m very worried about them. On any given day I’ve got members in quarantine in hospitals, they are not getting to hug and kiss their kids at night-time or tuck them in, they have been away from their families,” he said.
“I’ve had members who have missed the birth of their children because they have been in quarantine because they have been out there helping the community. They are on the front line with the doctors, nurses, ambos and other emergency services workers trying to help us all get through this.”
It comes as anti-lockdown protesters threaten to take to the streets in Melbourne over the weekend.
Mr Gatt urged the protesters to think about their actions.
“Victoria Police have been clear they will target the organisers, and they will certainly target attendees of these protests,” he said.
“I think the overwhelming majority of Victorians in the community are probably saying, ‘We are just about there guys, we are nearly there, we see light at the end of the tunnel, please don’t get in the way of us getting on with the rest of our lives’.
“They (police) don’t want anyone there, they want to go home and listen in intently to the Government’s announcements on Sunday to understand exactly what’s in store for us as, hopefully, we hear a pathway of getting out of this.”