Melbourne: Widespread racist e-mails have been found to be in circulation within the ranks of the Victorian police, already battling allegations of being slow to curb rising hate crimes against Indians.
Police launched an investigation after its ethical department found shocking racist content in circulation in internal police e-mail system, a scandal that has already claimed the life of one officer.
"Hundreds of personnel are being investigated," the Victorian chief commissioner Simon Overland told Australian news agency AAP.
While refusing to divulge the contents of the e-mails, Overland said, "Some were extremely offensive" and were found too shocking to be released publicly.
According to AAP report, up to 100 officers are being probed for sending the emails on work computers that are being dubbed by officers allegedly extremely racist, homophobic and pornographic, officers have told media outlets.
"We`re not talking about one item, we`re talking about multiple items," Overland said.
The police commissioner said those responsible for the racist e-mails would be fired as he confirmed that an officer Tony Vangorp, 47, had shot himself on Monday night after tendering resignation.
Overland said the officer`s job was on the line as he was being investigated.
He also refused to confirm if the e-mails contained racist comments against Indian students or Africans – two minority groups who have criticised police conduct in recent months.
"I`m not going to describe exactly the nature of the material in question," Overland said adding "If the Victorian public were aware of the nature of that material, I believe that it`s of such a nature that it would cause significant concern within the Victorian community."
Overland said some of the emails are so serious that they raise "real questions about a number of individuals` suitability to continue with Victoria Police".
The police ethical standards department has been using computer experts to track the e-mail.
The state`s top police watchdog, the Office of Police Integrity, confirmed last week that it had also launched an investigation into racism in the force.
Overland had earlier this week confessed that a small minority of officers were racist following release of a report that said police suffered from a culture of racism.
The Age newspaper reported that the investigations centred on a graphic image of a non-Caucasian man being tortured, around which several policemen had added racist comments and forwarded these to other colleagues.
The scandal comes to light two weeks after an official report alleged that officers beat up African students and taunted them with terms like "monkey".
Victorian police are already in the fire for their slow response to attack on Indian students.