Prioritising community

Lessons learned from Princes Park incident

“I think it would be remiss of us to not acknowledge the distress a lot of people had after Princess Park and we understand that", says Senior Sergeant Alasdair Farrell.

The Commander of the Caulfield police station says he’s very aware of the need to maintain a positive relationship with the Jewish community in the wake of the Princes Park incident.

Senior Sergeant Alasdair Farrell says the incident last year which saw a pro-Palestinian demonstration clash with Jewish residents and a synagogue being evacuated has led to a lot of feedback from the community.

“I think it would be remiss of us to not acknowledge the distress a lot of people had after Princess Park and we understand that. It really was a personal lesson to me as to some of the cultural issues and the sensitivities around that” he said.

Farrell said that the response from most of the Jewish community in the wake of what happened at Princes Park was fantastic, with police getting many supportive messages.

“A lot of people stopped us on the street outside the police station and we had a conversation when we could take that time to explain why some things happened and some things. We did take a bit of a bit of heat from that incident, and it is hard to get that message across” Farrell said.

Senior Sergeant Farrell said police have to operate within the law, which means if for example people decided to drive through Caulfield waving a Palestinian flag, they are allowed to do so.

“It’s bit different from ISIS flags, or some of the other more distasteful symbols that were recently banned. So yeah, there would actually be no offense, we couldn’t take any police action to remove that flag unless it was likely to incite another act of violence like we saw at Princes Park” he said.

Farrell believes there a definite need for police to reach out to influential members of the Jewish community to get their message out and to be accountable and to restore confidence.

“You know, police don’t exist in a vacuum – we need the entire community to want to talk to us about everyday problems. We absolutely have your back, but we’ve still got to work within the law” he said.

He believes Caulfield is an incredibly safe place to be.

“We are here 24 hours a day, we will do everything within our lawful powers to protect our community. We are invested in our community, and we hope that the community is invested in us – we’re always learning and we’re always listening” Farrell said.

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