THE officer in charge of Strike Force Lantle is one of two Hunter nominees for this year’s Rotary police officer of the year award.
Detective Sergeant Jeffrey Little was the head of the strike force set up in July 2010 to investigate allegations that child sex offences were concealed by clergy attached to the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese of the Catholic Church between 1985 and 1999.
The strike force, in turn, was the subject of a special commission of inquiry after Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox sensationally alleged that it was ‘‘set up to fail’’ by a ‘‘Catholic mafia’’ within the police force.
In response, Detective Sergeant Little memorably told the commission that Mr Fox had ‘‘ridden to glory on a saddle of lies’’.
And in rejecting criticism of Strike Force Lantle, eminent criminal barrister Ian Lloyd QC gave evidence that “in all my years of prosecuting crime, which is approaching 35-37 years now, the covering report was as thorough as I have ever seen’’.
The awards represent community recognition for ‘‘excellence in service’’, with Sergeant Little nominated in the field operations category.
Retired officer Allan Thompson is also nominated in the volunteer in policing category.
Mr Thompson, who served in the police for 32 years, has been instrumental in co-ordinating the volunteer program at Waratah police station since 2006.
After the death of Senior Constable David Rixon at Tamworth in March 2012, Mr Thompson was a main co-ordinator of the ‘‘Our Mates Our Families’’ charity walk from the Central Coast to the New England.
Superintendent John Gralton praised the men for their dedication and work ethic.
“Being a finalist for the Rotary police officer of the year award is great public recognition for a job well done,” Superintendent Gralton said.
He said both men had demonstrated ‘‘an extraordinary commitment and willingness to go that extra step to serve the people of NSW’’.
“On behalf of Newcastle City Local Area Command, I want to thank them for all the work they do and congratulate them on their respective nominations,” he said.
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione will present awards to winners in six categories, as well as the overall police officer of the year, at a gala dinner in Sydney on Friday, November 7.