Queensland Police Constable Mairead Devlin is both an LGBTI Liaison officer and a member of the LGBTIQ community. In 2016, he was the first Queensland Police officer to raise a rainbow flag outside police headquarters in Brisbane (pictured), to mark that year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. QN Magazine spoke to Constable Devlin recently about his voluntary role as an LGBTI Liaison Officer, which he undertakes in addition to his regular duties.
What is the specific role of an LGBTI Liaison Officer?
LGBTI Liaison Officers are trained to respond to the needs of the LGBTIQA+ community. They can be approached by members of this community to report matters that they may feel too uncomfortable to disclose to an officer who is neither an ally or a member of the LGBTIQA+ community.
Liaison officers also work to forge relationships with local service providers and can offer expertise to investigations involving LGBTI people.
How did you come to fill the role?
I became a liaison officer a couple of years after I commenced my gender affirmation process.
I had noticed a lack of engagement between police and external agencies in my District and wanted to connect more deeply with the members of the LGBTIQA+ community I had encountered throughout the course of my duties.
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?
LGBTI Liaison officers can be approached by members of the LGBTIQA+ community to report any matter to police that they may not feel comfortable reporting to an officer who isn’t a member of the LGBTI community.
Matters requiring immediate police attendance to preserve life or property should always be reported to Triple Zero (000).
Do you feel your work as a LGBTI Liaison Officer helps breaks down barriers between our community and the Queensland Police Service?
I do feel like my work as an LGBTI Liaison Officer helps to break down barriers between our community and the QPS. I’ve seen people’s perceptions of police change during a short conversation with them.
However, as long as members of our community continue to have negative interactions with police, progress in this space will be slow.
It’s important that all police officers receive LGBTIQA+-specific inclusion and diversity training to help improve interactions.
Can you share a story where you felt your role as a liaison officer made a real difference to a community member?
Shortly after we raised the flag outside Police Headquarters in 2016, I attended a domestic violence incident involving a transgender woman and her gay-identified male partner.
The woman had recently commenced her gender affirmation process and the couple were experiencing difficulties within their relationship as she navigated her changing body and his shifting sexuality.
Neither had high opinions of police, however at the end of our interaction the woman told me that she wouldn’t have felt comfortable calling us to assist her if she hadn’t seen us raise the rainbow flag. I didn’t fully realise the power of visibility until that moment.
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.