More than 140 police officers have been sent to Broome in response to protesters of the Woodside gas hub. The 10 day operation will cost around $1 million. The The move by police commisioner Karl O’Callaghan has been labeled as “mistake” by labor leader Mark McGowan.
It has been reported that 30 protesters had set up camp. They have said they want a peaceful and lawful protest, and felt intimidated with the police presence.
Officers have worn riot gear and have set up surveillance cameras. The deployment meant police outnumbered protesters on almost a 5-1 basis.
The officers had been taken from metropolitan and regional areas. Mr O’Callaghan’s decision to remove officers from front line forces contridicts his recent calls for increased police numbers. The ability to move such numbers may instead suggest that a decrease in police presence is possible in some areas.
Mr O’Callaghan gave a press release outlining his reasons for deployment, saying “We just want to do our business and enable Woodside to go about their business, that’s why we’re up there.”
Labor and the Greens have described the deployment as an “over reaction” by police, using “heavy-handed tactics”.
Mr O’Callaghan has rejected this criticism.