Circulation of racist, homophobic, and pornographic e-mails Thursday has prompted an investigation of as many as 100 Australian police officers and led to the death of another, the Times said.
The e-mails, which circulated in the internal police e-mail system in the state of Victoria, were too shocking to be released, Simon Overland, police commissioner of Victoria, said. Those who introduced the material will be fired, NDTV reported.
Tony Vangorp, 47, shot himself Monday night at the police station. Vangorp, an officer for 30 years, faced potential job loss as a result of the e-mails, NDTV reported.
"There are a large number of police involved. I guess there are different degrees of seriousness, but it was quite widespread," Overland said. "If the public were aware of the nature of that material I believe that it would cause significant concern within the community," the Times reported.
The center of the investigation focused on one e-mail in which a non-Caucasian man was being tortured. Overland said the e-mails raised questions about the suitability of some individuals to continue with the Victoria police.
News of the offensive e-mails comes shortly after Indian and African groups criticized the police for being racist, the Times said.
"There is a culture of racism within the Victorian police force," Helen Yandell, director of the Springvale Monash Legal service told the Times. "It is an issue that needs to be addressed. I'm pleased that the police are taking such quick action on these e-mails."
While Overland acknowledged the death of Vangorp was unfortunate, he defended his handling of the situation.
"How can a community have confidence in this organisation if we allow racist, sexist, pornographic, inappropriate material to circulate freely?" Overland said to the Times. "We can't do it."