Detective Senior Sergeant Sasha Finney is both an LGBTI Liaison officer in the Queensland Police Service and a member of the LGBTIQ community. QN Magazine spoke to Finney (pictured, left) recently about her voluntary role as an LGBTI Liaison Officer which she undertakes in addition to her regular duties.
What is the specific role of an LGBTI Liaison Officer?
The role of the QPS LGBTI officer has evolved since the program’s inception. We are there to assist all members of the LGBTI community with any policing related or non-policing matter that they have and provide referral to other agencies that may be equipped to deal with the specific issue.
How did you come to fill the role?
As a lesbian woman and a role model for both QPS Police officers and members of the LGBTI I offered to participate in the program to give it credibility.
I was the on-call LGBTI officer for many years in a voluntary capacity and during this period I assisted numerous members of the community with varying degrees of problems they had encountered.
What assistance can you offer members of the LGBTIQ community and in what circumstance should members of the community specifically ask to speak to a Liaison Officer or make a Liaison Officer their first point of contact?
Any Queensland Police officer will always endeavour to assist any member of the public – the LGBTI trained officers are specifically trained to assist members of our community would prefer to speak with an officer who has knowledge and empathy. It is a choice available to the community member.
Do you feel your work as a LGBTI Liaison Officer helps breaks down barriers between our community and the Queensland Police Service?
I have 30 years+ service in the QPS as an operational officer. I am confident that the work that is done by the QPS is breaking down the barriers, I have specifically worked with the older (and wiser) members of the community to demonstrate that the QPS as an organisation has matured and that legislation has changed and there is no longer a need for fear.
What progress is being made on the historically high level of under-reporting of crime by the LGBTIQ community?
It is my opinion that this body of work is still a work in progress. Every day it’s getting better.
Is it capturing 100 per cent? Probably not but I do believe the relationships have been strengthened through the work we have done and that there is a greater level of reporting than in the past.
Can you share a story where you felt your role as a liaison officer made a real difference to a community member?
When I was “on call” I had a call from a totally panicked professional male who was very well known in the Brisbane area. He was married with a family.
He was experimenting with his sexuality and was victim of an attempted extortion that involved a sex tape and placed him in a very compromised position with another young male he met at a “beat”.
I was able to manage this investigation for him and identify the offender and obtain the tape without the complainant ever being exposed to either his family or his working environment.
He was so appreciative as he wasn’t ready to “come out” – he had a wife and children to manage and protect.
It was satisfying to me that I was able to help him, and I spent hours talking to him and listening. I too had been a professional who had to “come out” so I knew from my own experience it can be done but it is a very personal journey and not one size fits all.
In an emergency call Triple Zero (000). LGBTI community members can report any issue to any police officer. To speak with an LGBTI Liaison Officer, advise the officer taking your complaint or call PoliceLink on 131 444.