Cops given new ‘shoot to kill’ powers
Victorian police officers "must take action to prevent death or serious injury" if they are faced with a criminal in a hostile vehicle such as the Bourke St massacre, a new policy states.
All tactical options are included in the hostile vehicle policy including shooting the offender.
Officers are also allowed to ram offending vehicles, use roadblocks and/or box the vehicle in.
The Victorian measures are a nationwide first, Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said today.
"These attacks are fortunately not a regular occurrence; however, we must be prepared in case they do happen," Mr Patton said in a statement.
"We know hostile vehicle situations can escalate quickly and there is a very real threat that people can be killed or seriously injured.
"We have seen this here in Melbourne."
The introduction of the hostile vehicle policy precedes an inquest - expected to begin on November 18 - into the horrifying and deadly rampage in Melbourne's Bourke St mall on January 20, 2017.
James Gargasoulas was jailed for life in February after being found guilty of murdering six people and of 27 counts of reckless conduct endangering life, having injured dozens of others.
He was imprisoned for at least 46 years.
Gargasoulas's victims were three-month-old Zachary Bryant, thrown 60 metres from his pram, 10-year-old Thalia Hakin, Jess Mudie, 22, Yosuke Kanno, 25, Matthew Si, 33, and Bhavita Patel, 33.
The deputy commissioner said the "explicit guidelines" aim to provide clarity to officers on the response options available to them and empower them with "the authority to act".
"Protecting the community is our number one priority and by releasing this policy we are trusting our officers to assess the situation and act accordingly," Mr Patton said.
"In fact, the new policy explicitly states the expectation of our police that they must take action to prevent death or serious injury."
Gargasoulas was seen doing burnouts at the intersection of Flinders and Swanston Streets before his vehicle was captured on CCTV flying past shop windows at speed.
"Your upper body was protruding out of the driver's window," Justice Mark Weinberg said when he sentenced the killer in February.
"You were yelling out, and taunting onlookers and police."
Gargasoulas then proceeded north along Swanston St, followed by a convoy of police cars, veering onto the footpath before eventually turning up the mall.
"From this point on, you drove your car at speeds of between 57 and 61 kilometres per hour along Bourke St," Justice Weinberg said.
"In just moments, you travelled along four crowded city blocks.
"A number of pedestrians managed, somehow, to take evasive action, and avoided being hit. Tragically, many were unable to get out of the way."
Police said the hostile vehicle policy does not replace the current pursuit policy but there may be times when a pursuit evolves into such an attack.
A compulsory training package of scenarios will be rolled out from mid-December this year while face-to-face training will be provided from January 1, 2020.
All operational officers are expected to have completed the training by June 30, 2020.
Victoria Police consulted extensively with The Police Association before the announcement.