'Role model to all' | Fairfield City Commander Detective Superintendent Peter Lennon retires after 40 years of service

Fairfield City Commander Detective Superintendent Peter Lennon in the Fairfield CBD. Picture: Simon Bennett
Fairfield City Commander Detective Superintendent Peter Lennon in the Fairfield CBD. Picture: Simon Bennett

Have you heard about the time Fairfield City Commander Detective Superintendent Peter Lennon got a taxi for Sir Garfield Sobers?

"He was just waiting there for a taxi, so I went into the middle of road and flagged one down in uniform," he said.

That sums up Mr Lennon: always willing to help.

Whether it be one of the world's greatest cricketers, Muhammad Ali, President Bill Clinton or the late Juan Antonio Samaranch - who he met while helping to plan security for the Sydney 2000 Olympics at a hotel in Circular Quay - or the Fairfield community who he has served for the past decade.

It's no surprise when asked to nominate a highlight from his 40-year policing career he was quick to say: "helping people."

It's why when Detective Superintendent Lennon marches out of Fairfield Police station for the final time on July 26, it will be followed by a presentation at Fairfield RSL. There is simply not enough room at the station to fit the people who want to thank him for his years of service.

Outgoing Commander Detective Superintendent Peter Lennon welcomes in the new commander Jason Weinstein, who was based at the region office and has previously been the Drug and Firearms Squads Detective Chief Inspector. Picture: Simon Bennett

Outgoing Commander Detective Superintendent Peter Lennon welcomes in the new commander Jason Weinstein, who was based at the region office and has previously been the Drug and Firearms Squads Detective Chief Inspector. Picture: Simon Bennett

It's a service that begin in June 1979 as a probationary constable at No. 1 Division - Central. Before that he used to work in a bank for a year or so but found it "pretty boring".

In 1985 he became a detective, having completed criminal investigation training at the Darlinghurst division before spending time as a plain-clothes officer in Marrickville.

He then worked as a homicide detective for more than a decade before joining the gaming squad at the casino. In 1991, he was promoted to Detective Sergeant and 2001 was made an Inspector. In 2003, he was promoted to Superintendent and led the Marrickville and Campsie commands before joining Fairfield in April 2009.

During that time he assumed control of the security response for the 2007 APEC meetings and was awarded the Australian Police Medal in the Australia Day Honours List for distinguished service.

For every new role, new promotion and new command, one thing remained the same: helping people.

He points out in the room we are doing the interview they speak to victims of domestic violence, robberies and assaults.

"They come to the police seeking justice because they have been treated the wrong way. It's been rewarding being able to lock-up criminals that do the wrong things and put them before the courts and see the satisfaction for victims.," he said.

"I know there's the phrase about always wanting to help people, but it is all about helping people. That's why I wanted to be a police officer.

"It has been very rewarding to know as a NSW police officer you have the power to make a difference."

The 60-year-old has certainly made a difference in Fairfield.

In 2012 he pioneered the state's first Coffee with a Cop event, which has gone on to be adopted right across the state. It was a chance - in his words - to opens the doors for people to meet with the police to understand their role.

"Making sure the people here know we are here to help has been a priority because some the backgrounds people come from, the police don't necessarily help them that much and maybe be a hindrance," he said.

"We are so diverse here with 130 different languages and we have to balance what is going on around the world and how it is going impact the community. So it is about reaching out to people and letting them know we here to make their home safe and secure.

"The theme when I first started here was 'We are you'. The police are part of the community and are here to help people."

That has improved significantly since Detective Superintendent Lennon successfully oversaw the recent amalgamation of the Fairfield and Cabramatta stations to form the Fairfield City Police Area Command.

He balanced the 340-strong force to work together to learn about the different demographics of each area and meshed two systems into one for the benefit of the community.

It was "challenging" but "rewarding". They now have the economies of scales to address community issues. Before when they might have had two or three domestic violence officers at each command, they now have the capacity to have 10 working at any one time.

Fairfield City Commander Detective Superintendent Peter Lennon shares his wisdom with some fellow officers. Picture: Simon Bennett

Fairfield City Commander Detective Superintendent Peter Lennon shares his wisdom with some fellow officers. Picture: Simon Bennett

It has also allowed them to be proactive to address issues like the recent spate of youth crime. Mr Lennon's policy of not spending too much time "behind the desk" is a staple of the command with more officers spending more time in the streets and in shopping centres.

Of course things have changed.

He no longer does he use a typewriter for interviews with seven pieces of paper with six pieces of carbon between them with a typing error needing white-out. Gone too are the mobile phones which resembled a "brick".

Now there are body-worn cameras, mobile devices that can take a finger print and cars with cameras all the way round with the capacity to reveal car registration details.

Whether using the old-school approach or new school techniques, Detective Superintendent Lennon liked ensuring justice was achieved.

That's why he took so much satisfaction when he lead the successful investigation into the murder of Dr Victor Chang in 1991.

He also played a big part in a 10-year murder investigation of a prostitute from Melbourne that came up to Sydney and Broken Hill where they got offender to talk about the crime on a listening device.

So what's next for Mr Lennon? After travelling with his wife Jill to see his daughter Grace in England, he might do a little fishing.

"I look at the garden and think I'm going to have to do some work on that as well," he said.

TRIBUTES

"It was a privilege to work under your leadership sir. You made work easy and enjoyable and your words of encouragement put smiles on many faces. Thank you for your constant support and all the very best in the future." Multicultural Community Liaison officer Sussanne Jabur

"Your passion for policing and desire to help the local community was evident right until your last day. You were a role model to all police who worked under you. Enjoy your well-deserved retirement." Senior Sergeant Brett Grenfell

"Detective Superintendent Lennon has been my boss since September 2014. We have managed many difficult, complicated and stressful situations together. He is always professional, supportive, polite and considerate. He never asks for more than someone can give. Mr Lennon has a big heart, he genuinely cares about the community and his staff. He is slow to anger and does not tolerate gossip or rumours. He has taught me the importance of building and maintaining police and community relationships. He is a great leader, husband and father. We will all miss him." Inspector Crime Manager Ed Walsh

"To Mr Lennon, a great man, manager and mentor. Your leadership, dedication and service to the Fairfield and surrounding communities as the Commander of Fairfield City Police Area Command over the past 10 years is an outstanding achievement. You will be missed by all of those who were lucky enough to have worked with you. You are a true gentleman. Enjoy your well deserved retirement." Inspector Duty Officer Matthew West

Fairfield City Commander Detective Superintendent Peter Lennon outside Fairfield Police Station. Picture: Simon Bennett

Fairfield City Commander Detective Superintendent Peter Lennon outside Fairfield Police Station. Picture: Simon Bennett

"The passion that Superintendent Lennon had working with the community he served was to reflect policing as part of the wider community. He is a strong leader and is well respected by all his staff. Congratulations on your retirement." Chief Inspector Steve Thomas (Retired)

"You have been one-of-a-kind; it will be very hard to replace you." Sergeant Rudy Trinajstic

"A very experienced, dedicated Commander who is passionate about the community he serves and the staff he leads." Detective Sergeant Andrew Barnes

"Thank you for your hard work, your dedication to the local community and genuine desire to make Fairfield a safe and happy place for all. Working under your leadership has been a pleasure and an honour, you will be truly missed." Multicultural Community Liaison Officer Nathaly Parish

"Approachable and easy to talk to. You were able to have a joke with him. Enjoy your retirement." Sergeant Bijay Chand

"Your service history speaks for itself; enjoy your retirement you have earned it." Chief Inspector Duty Officer Mat Newton

"40 years in the Police Force is an outstanding achievement, working in some of the busiest commands in NSW. Congratulations on a decorated career and enjoy your retirement." Sergeant Stephen Naylor