Police officers are employed to serve and protect the public.
So when there is news of an officer breaking the law they enforce, it naturally shocks the community.
During budget estimates this week it was revealed Tasmanian police officers who had been reported as perpetrators of family violence were still working within the force.
And a total of 12 in the past year had either been reported as having committed family or sexual violence against their partners, or have come forward as victims.
While every organisation can expect to have some "bad apples", police must be held to a higher standard.
It is the department's responsibility to ensure the people it employs will uphold its core values.
The key question here is a moral one.
If these officers have been reported as perpetrators of family violence, why are they still working for the department?
It was revealed three of the police officers had been issued with a police family violence order, and when this occurred, they were immediately made non-operational. Another police officer was facing charges, and was also non-operational. But this did not occur until a finding was made.
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Of course, there is the old adage of innocent until proven guilty.
Something as serious as family or sexual violence, however, should warrant serious immediate action.
Whether that action goes as far as standing an officer down or not while they are investigated - and that investigation should be a priority when any officer is accused of serious criminal conduct - could be debated.
Commissioner Darren Hine, who was previously an ambassador for White Ribbon, said the "alarming trend" had prompted a new policy to deal with the issue.
The policy will include the creation of an independent committee to review complaints.
Why has it taken until now to create this policy?
Family violence is not a new issue, and officers being identified as perpetrators has been described as a "longstanding issue" by legal experts in the state, so it could be seen as ignorant for a department such as Tasmania Police to simply ignore the possibility and not implement strategies.
The reactive policy is an example of how family violence is still being underplayed, despite governments committing funding over the years and creating awareness campaigns.
Money and media advertisements help the cause, but if we can't be confident that police can monitor their own people effectively - so much so it has taken at least 12 cases (in a relatively small force of roughly 1300 officers) for a policy to be considered - then how can we claim to be moving forward on family violence prevention.
Understandably, family violence is complicated.
Victims aren't always able to come forward.
For those that do come forward though, they need to know there are safe systems in place.
The new policy should be commended, of course, but it should have been introduced a long time ago.
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