ALBURY’S top cop has taken her role as a liaison officer for the gay and lesbian community all the way to Sydney’s biggest street party.
Albury Superintendent Beth Stirton led the NSW Police march in the Mardi Gras parade on Saturday night, in what was an “exhilarating” event.
The 50-strong contingent included police officers from across the state, marching in different shades of blue to signify their support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.
Supt Stirton was recently named the southern region’s sexuality and gender diversity sponsor, a role that will see her supporting the staff within the force who work directly with the LGBT public and focus on the related issues that could arise.
She’ll also be working with corporate sponsor Supt Tony Crandell in strategic planning when it comes to policing and working with LGBT community in the future.
“The NSW Police Force is reflective of the community,” she said.
“It’s important to participate (in events like Mardi Gras) because it recognises that we are part of the community and supportive no matter which diverse background you’re from.”
Despite having worked in Sydney for 30 years before being stationed in Albury, Saturday was Supt Stirton’s first Mardi Gras.
“I’d seen it on TV before but to actually be in that environment was very different,” she said.
“There was so much adrenaline, people were dressed up in so many different costumes and they were all there to have a great time.”
Supt Stirton said she was amazed to find the level of support given to officers.
“For me, that was really quite exhilarating, them calling out support for the police because it’s a tough job sometimes.”
Supt Stirton said she would “definitely” be at future Mardi Gras.
Police said a colourful crowd of 300,000 revellers were well behaved on the first weekend of the new 1.30am lockout and 3am last drinks.
This year’s parade boasted a record 144 floats and 10,000 marchers, while the footpaths of Oxford Street were packed with people pressing against barriers along a two-kilometre stretch of the route.
Sixteen people were arrested and charged with offences including stealing, breach of bail, drink-driving, drug-driving and assault.
A 15-year-old girl was indecently assaulted while watching the parade in Surry Hills.
A security guard detained a 25-year-old man who was subsequently charged and bailed to appear in Downing Centre Local Court in late March.