The squad has been hit by accusations of bullying and mismanagement, causing officers to go and leaving some recruits unqualified to drive all the boats in the unit’s fleet.
An insider told the Herald Sun the unit, which has about 50 officers, has lost a dozen during the past 18 months because of “a toxic culture”.
Five officers have joined the Australian Border Force while others have transferred elsewhere within Victoria Police.
One officer was bullied to the point where he developed an alcohol problem and drank before starting his shifts as a coping mechanism, according to the whistleblower.
“Members who have left possess thousands of sea days of experience,” he said.
“There is now a massive skill shortage and lives could be in danger.”
A SENIOR officer publicly referred to a junior officer’s deaf son as a “retard”.
THE same officer took photographs of a drunk female colleague at a Christmas party and showed the pictures to the unit’s morning shift crew the next day.
THE senior officer, who has since left the unit, would also visit mussel merchants at Williamstown Pier and Portarlington and demand they donate a box of mussels for “the boys” at the Water Police.
In a letter sent to IBAC, the whistleblower wrote: “I write to you with a genuine concern about the rapid increase in systemic bullying, that has consistently occurred ...
“The pattern of behaviour, spanning in excess of 12 months ... continues to escalate beyond acceptable levels of workplace bullying, usually tolerated in a state government workplace.”
Another source told the Herald Sun:
“We are supposed to be on the same side ... this is the police.
“Morale in the Water Police is at an all-time low.
“It is ruled like a dictatorship. Management have swept these issues under the carpet.”
Victoria Police spokesman Inspector Ian Geddes said: “All staff are trained and supported to achieve relevant qualifications and experience during their tenure at the Water Police. The Water Police has and will have into the future appropriate levels of trained and qualified personnel to carry out the duties required.
“Sufficient numbers of qualified people are maintained to perform the required function and operate the vessels as required. “As a result of an allegation of workplace bullying, a workplace cultural review of the Water Police was conducted.
“As a result of this review it was identified that concerns raised did not amount to workplace bullying.”