THE NSW police officer with ultimate responsibility for LGBTI relations has said he believes the force will get a positive reception at Mardi Gras despite recent calls for the policing of the LGBTI community to be investigated.

NSW Police corporate sponsor for sexuality and gender diversity, Superintendent Tony Crandell (pictured above, front left), told the Star Observer that while the police and community might not always see eye-to-eye it was important an open dialogue was maintained.

“Having that sort of respectful relationship that’s really all I can hope for [but] I can’t hope that we’re really all going to agree, because we won’t,” he said.

Last week, politicians from across the political spectrum threw their weight behind a proposal to subject the NSW Police Force to the scrutiny of an independent complaints body.

This would have the ability to look into any complaint brought against the force including long standing concerns surrounding a number of police investigations into decades-old unsolved gay bashings, and possibly murders, at known beats.

Earlier this month, the Star Observer revealed Alan Rosendale, who alleges that in the late 1980s he was bashed by police officers after being chased out of a beat, wanted an independent inquiry into the police’s handling of the case.

Rosendale’s solicitor, Nicholas Stewart from Dowson Turco lawyers, said only a thorough examination of the force – both regarding historic investigations and current policing strategies – could rebuild trust between police and the community.

“We think an inquiry will mean questions will be answered and the NSW Police Force will have an opportunity to show that it is willing to change,” Stewart said.

Crandell, who is based at Surry Hills, agreed the current focus on LGBTI community policing hadn’t come an ideal time but he compared it to Mardi Gras 2014 which followed allegations of excessive force from some officers at the 2013 parade.

“Last year I thought what we’re going to get an awful reception, we were really worried, but we did a lot of work with the community and the reception was fantastic [and] really positive,” he said.

Crandell said the police were looking forward to marching in in the Mardi Gras Parade, to be held on Saturday, March 7.

“I think people are there to celebrate, we’re there in goodwill and we’re never going to agree on everyone’s points of view but as long as we’ve still got our relationship,” he said.

Crandell was speaking last Friday at Sydney Town Hall where a new exhibition was launched to mark a quarter of a century since the state’s first gay and lesbian liaison officer (GLLO) was commissioned.

Across NSW there are now 176 GLLOs who undertake additional training to gain knowledge about numerous issues affecting LGBTI communities, including bias crime and domestic violence and the challenges facing youth, trans* and intersex people when seeking support.

“Twenty five years ago some people decided to ask some questions of our politicians and say listen, how about we get some better relationships with the gay community from the police… and we’re still ‘GLLOing’,” Crandell said.

“We’ve got more than a dozen GLLOs at Surry Hills and people come to Surry Hills because they know we’re GLBTI-friendly.

“They look for us and you see rainbows all through the place and see purple shirts up in the foyer it’s fantastic, I love it.

“The value of GLLOs is in their attitude and their attitude is value equality, value diversity, value sexuality; don’t discriminate and let’s look forward.”

The ‘25 years and GLLO-ing’ history installation is currently on show at Sydney Police Centre, Goulburn Street, Surry Hills.

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