More than a dozen Australian Federal Police (AFP) recruits could be expelled for breaching social distancing rules at a late-night party held at their residential college in Canberra.
Several AFP sources with knowledge of the incident, on Friday night last week, said some members of the cadet group reacted badly when confronted by ACT Police about their actions.
“An unknown number of them abused a female staff member and a superintendent when they were told to quiet down,” a college employee said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
“[I’d] expect a few of them to get sacked, as the AFP will want to be seen to be tough as they don’t like bad publicity and the rest of them will be given severe warnings.”
The trainees who attended last weekend’s noisy gathering in apparent breach of strict coronavirus regulations are enrolled in a course for prospective protective services officers.
Another AFP figure, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak publicly, said 14 recruits had been given show cause notices as to why they shouldn’t be kicked out of the college.
“The recruits in question were from two courses that had passed their firearms training that day,” the AFP member said.
“The investigation is hush-hush at the moment, but they have now made the college alcohol free.”
Recruits ‘believed’ they could party
Last week the AFP confirmed it had launched an investigation into the incident, but since then it has declined to answer detailed questions.
“We have no further comment to provide to you at this time,” an AFP spokesperson said.
]Trainees who are under investigation claim their AFP superiors had indicated they did not need to isolate from each other, given they live and train together.
“The recruits had every right to think they could party together,” a college insider said.
“They are being told they are in a training bubble and the social distancing rules don’t apply to them.”
Last week Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter said he expected AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw to act swiftly on the matter.
“It sounds like that should definitely be a matter of disciplinary proceedings for the Commissioner with his recruits, which I am sure he’ll engage in in a robust fashion,” Mr Porter said on Monday.
For several weeks, AFP officers and their state colleagues have had an increasingly visible presence across Australia, enforcing new coronavirus guidelines aimed at preventing large social gatherings.