Hamilton police have a new intermediary between the service and the LGBTQ2 community.
Police have appointed their first liaison officer to work with Hamilton’s LGBTQ2 community in the hopes of strengthening their relationship with that community.
Det. Const. Rebecca Moran, an out member of the community, will act as a “conduit” for community concerns, Deputy Chief Ryan Diodati said in a statement.
“Hamilton Police are committed to strengthening our relationship with the 2S and LGBTQIA+ community and taking the necessary steps in rebuilding trust. Working in collaboration with the Community Relations Coordinator, we believe our new liaison officer will help us better serve Hamilton’s 2S and LGBTQIA+ citizens,” said Diodati.
In a release on Friday, Hamilton police said Moran will initiate outreach to advise the LGBTQ2 community on reporting crime and provide a safe space for individuals to come forward to address concerns.
Moran is also expected to educate and assist with residents, businesses and organizations about issues facing the community.
“My hope is this new liaison position will start to build bridges between the 2S and LGBTQIA+ community and our service. Knowing there is someone in the service they can reach out to that understands their lived experience, could help victims of crime feel more comfortable coming forward to police,” says Moran.
The new position was revealed in November at a meeting with the LGBTQ2 community as Hamilton police proposed an advisory group.
Tensions between Hamilton police and the community became strained in June 2019 when officers arrested five people in connection with a fight at the Pride festival in Gage Park.
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The incident was the catalyst for a number of demonstrations in the city months later, including a march on Mayor Fred Eisenberger’s home in late June in which he claimed “agitators” yelled profanities and left signs on his lawn.
In September, a Hamilton man filed a complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) over Chief Eric Girt’s comments on Global News Radio 900 CHML’s Bill Kelly Show on Sept. 10. Girt was accused of evoking harmful stereotypes faced by LGBTQ2 people when he discussed how previous police chiefs dealt with historical issues in the community, including police fielding complaints about sex in public washrooms.
The complaint was dismissed by the OIPRD in January.
In October, Eisenberger agreed to have a lawyer lead a third-party review of Hamilton police’s response after much criticism from the LGBTQ2 community charging that officers were slow to respond to violence at Pride.
In November, Toronto lawyer Scott Bergman of Cooper, Sandler, Shime and Bergman LLP was appointed to conduct a third-party review of Hamilton police’s response to violence at Hamilton Pride after a recommendation from a city subcommittee.
Bergman’s report and recommendations are expected by April 30.
Meanwhile, Chris Vanderweide, the Kitchener man also known as “Helmet Guy” after he allegedly hit people in the face with a helmet at the Pride event, has a trial date set for September. Vanderweide, 27, is charged with two counts of assault with a weapon.
WATCH: (June 28, 2019) Protestors plant signs on Mayor Fred Eisenberger’s front lawn