“I thought I’d put my hand up and … lead the way.”
The fixated persons unit, established by NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller in 2017, along with the engagement and hate crime unit, are involved in the detection, intervention and prevention of so-called ‘lone actor’ and ‘fixated person’ threats and grievance-fuelled violence.
Once someone is flagged, a risk assessment is conducted which could result in a mental health response or police response depending on the person.
Earlier this year, the unit was involved in an investigation following comments made on social media threatening Australian parliamentary officials. Police would later arrest a man in Tamworth in relation to the allegations. In January last year, the unit laid 73 charges against a man for serious domestic violence offences that related to historical physical and sexual abuse.
Mitchell said he wanted to show leadership in this space, especially on behalf of those less capable of dealing with the type of racial or online abuse he fears could lead some people to self harm.
“I don’t want to be known as just a rugby league player,” Mitchell said.
“Online bullying, cyberbullying, it only takes that one message for someone not as strong as me that can’t [handle] the criticism for them to go and do some self harm.
“Today I’m taking a stand on it and I want everyone out there to know they can stand up to it, too.”
Mitchell sent screengrabs of the abusive messages to South Sydney chief executive Blake Solly last Sunday morning. Solly was stunned by what he received.
“I’ve worked in rugby league in the UK and here for over 12 years and I’ve never seen abuse as vile as this,” Solly told the Herald.
“It’s before the courts … but I think it will reflect (well) that Latrell has been so courageous in taking this stance. This was well beyond trolling – it was racial vilification.”
Mitchell thanked the authorities for acting so swiftly.
“We as rugby league players are here to do a job, to enjoy ourselves and provide for our families. To receive all this hate, I know it comes with the game but it shouldn’t be in our game.”
Mitchell was suspended for four weeks last Tuesday at the NRL judiciary for making dangerous contact with the head of Wests Tigers winger David Nofoaluma, and will return in round 11.
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