Long known to Oxford Street residents and partygoers as the local area police commander for Surry Hills, Superintendent Tony Crandell, says he is now honoured to be appointed NSW Police corporate spokesperson for GLBTI people following the departure of Chief Superintendent Donna Adney from the role after five years.
Crandell takes on the role as NSW Police attempt to rebuild relations with LGBTI people in Sydney and across the state following a number of serious allegations of police violence and brutality at this year’s Mardi Gras parade.
Having officially assumed the position in late July, Crandell said he hopes to broadly continue and build on the work of established Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers (GLLOs) as well as Adney who was leaving for a new post with the NSW Police Dog Unit. Adney had been the force’s inaugural spokesperson for LGBTI people.
“I see two broad objectives of the GLLO Program, the first – to educate police officers within our organisation, and the second – to engage local LGBTI communities to discover underlying issues that can be addressed by methods of responsible local policing,” Crandell said.
“The community engagement portion of the GLLO Program education function requires strong collaboration with partner agencies to discover what educative and enforcement strategies are appropriate in not only local environments but also at iconic GLBTI events such as Mardi Gras.”
There will be plenty to keep Crandell busy over the next few months after relations between police and the state’s LGBTI communities took a serious dent earlier this year following highly publicised reports of overzealous strip searches of Mardi Gras revellers and the alleged bashings of a teenager and a gay rights activist during the festival’s main parade along Oxford Street.
“I accept that the relationship between police and the LGBTI community has suffered as a result of the Mardi Gras 2013 experience,” Crandell said. “In that respect I am committed to providing better service at Mardi Gras 2014, through the strength of established and potential relationships with various LGBTI groups and organisations.”
NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convener Justin Koonin told the Star Observer that Crandell had shown an admirable commitment to LGBTI people in his time as Surry Hills Local Area Commander.
“In our meetings with Tony we have found him approachable and ready to listen,” Koonin said. “We look forward to working together on fostering respect and understanding between our community and NSW Police.”
Soon after Adney’s departure, Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) released a statement last week suggesting NSW Police “had not reached out” as much to LGBTI people in recent years as it could have.
“Adney has never spoken for the gay and lesbian community, she has only spoken for the police,” the statement read.