POLICE officers are angry and disappointed with two new colleagues who sent an ‘inappropriate and offensive’ message from the scene of the Shoreham air disaster.
Deputy chief constable Olivia Pinkney from Sussex Police told the Herald the two let their fellows down on August 22.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the support from the local community from the moment that tragedy struck and we’re so grateful for that and treasure it,” she said.
“Officers who are doing really difficult things even today really value that. They’re as angry and disappointed as I am with these two colleagues.”
The force has been aware of the message for the past few weeks after the officer who received the message reported it to superiors.
“What the two officers did was video themselves,” said DCC Pinkney. “They were on duty and standing on the cordon near the scene but some distance from it but with no clear view of that scene.”
However, she said the worst aspect was an ‘inappropriate and offensive’ message attached to the video.
The pair were new to the force, with DCC Pinkney saying the Brighton-based officers had only been with Sussex Police a matter of months.
They have not been suspended but remain on duty under close supervision and not working directly with the public.
“I wanted these two to continue at work and do an honest day’s work,” she said.
There is currently an internal investigation taking place against the pair for gross misconduct and DCC Pinkney said she expected a decision in the next few days.
News of the investigation was broken by the BBC last night (September 7), with DCC Pinkney saying she did not know how the matter had become public.
“I wasn’t intending to make it public, purely because of the additional distress for the families,” she said. “We were hoping they wouldn’t have to suffer any more distress.
“I don’t know how this appeared in the public domain”
Eleven people died on August 22 after a Hawker Hunter plane crashed on the A27 while attempting to perform a manoeuvre.
DCC Pinkney said it did not matter that the pair sent the message privately and it was never intended to be made public.
“The police service has a code of ethics which we’re very proud of ,” she said. “Police officers on and off duty have a very high standard of behaviour they must adhere to and we hold very dear.”
She said these standards were at the very heart of policing.
“The fact it wasn’t intended for anyone else either on or off duty isn’t relevant,” she said, adding: “The focus of what we’ve been doing since that awful day is supporting the families and providing the families of those that died with the answers they’re looking for. That’s where our operational focus lies.”
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