Decisive action, which quickly ended November 9’s Bourke St terrorist attack, has brought public accolades and respect for local police.
Melbourne East police inspector Craig Peel said he was really pleased by a public outpouring of praise and respect that followed the murderous incident.
He said the Flinders Lane police station had been inundated with congratulatory phone calls and gifts of flowers, pizzas, chocolates and donuts.
“There’s a lot of love for us at the moment,” Insp Peel said.
“I think it’s been really good because members are not often praised just for walking down the street,” he said. “Most people don’t seem to know what we do for a living, so this unfettered thanks to someone anonymous, in a position of authority in a uniform, is unique for us.”
“I thought the members did a really good job. And certainly post-incident, the response has been overwhelming.”
Insp Peel praised the response of the local officer who initially attempted to contain the offender but then shot the man in the chest as he had been trained to do.
“He made a decision and I think that’s what people want to see – whether it’s a politician, a local councillor or a police officer,” Insp Peel said.
Insp Peel said the new respect for local police was not something normally associated with the CBD.
“It’s like country policing where the community gets involved to see what they can do, whether it’s helping the neighbours, providing clothing or cooking a cake for the coppers,” he said.
“It’s unexpected in the city so it’s great to see the members walking around with their shoulders back and their chins up and proud to be in the City of Melbourne.”
Station commander, Snr Sgt John Travaglini, said the community response showed how connected local people were.
Specifically, he praised Salvation Army Major Brendan Nottle and City of Melbourne compliance manager Dean Robertson.
He explained that police had already had a long and tiring day by the time they set up a mobile command post and started processing the myriad tasks that flowed from such a disturbance.
“When we all moved into the pantech, there’s Brendan Nottle and his people with 70 large café lattes,” Snr Sgt Travaglini said.
“It’s just really nice, because it’s their city as much as it’s ours. It was clear it was going to be a protracted incident and a lot of us had worked day shift so, by that stage, we were already cooked so the caffeine hit was just really nice because we’re not used to that.”
“It’s good. It’s nice. And that’s community stuff. Our local community,” Snr Sgt Travaglini said.
He said Mr Robertson had flown back to Melbourne from holidaying in Queensland to seamlessly take care of important logistic tasks.
“Straight off the bat, Dean Robertson was onto it,” he said. “He organised bollards and a traffic management plan so it looked like it was very organised from the word go.”
“He put the signs out where people could lay the flowers so traffic could keep using the laneway and minimising obstruction to Bourke St as well. And during the reactivation of the area he was de-escalating it appropriately and I think people knew it was coming to an end because of the way he’d structured it from the start. It was all very organised. It thought it was well executed – the way that they made it work.”
Insp Peel said: “When we see the worst of the worst, the best of the best comes out. People were really respectful.”