When is a Cop not a Cop?

Ntp 11 July 2007 25

When he is a PSO. What’s a PSO? A Protective Services Office.

The question then arises how do you tell. Well the Canberra public has never been that sharp in telling the difference but for the last year it has been even harder as the then Australian Protective Services was amalgamated with the Australian Federal Police and the AFP went through a re-badging exercise. Costly and inconvenient (I’m still finding uniform items I’ve got to take in to get re-badged) now all AFP officers, be they Sworn Police Officers or PSO’s have the same badge. Last week the PSO’s vehicles got re-badged. If not already the PSO’s will soon also have the same firearm as sworn officers although if someone can tell the difference between whatever the HK pistol they have is and the glock from any sort of distance they are a better person than I. No, the best way to tell the difference is that PSO’s, who as far as I know don’t have the need to carry around masses of victims of crime booklets, tape recorders and pull their notebooks out every 5 minutes, and police offices is that the PSO’s get to wear cargo pants with decent pockets and police have to wear polyester trousers that melt near heat and have pockets that are small and inaccessible when wearing a utility belt.

So what does a PSO do? They guard stuff. Buildings mainly. Usually filled with valuable government stuff or people but also including the external perimeters of all the embassies. The PSO’s also include more highly trained Air Marshalls. They don’t investigate your burglary (and despite what many Rioter’s say yes the police do do that it’s just that mostly there isn’t much to investigate -Canberra isn’t CSI Miami you know), attend that traffic accident or any other stuff that POLICE do. PSO’s do an important job but they are not police, they aren’t trained to do the same things and do not have the same powers under law.

Anyway why this rant now? Well the Canberra Times has very interesting piece including views from the Police Federation of Australia, the Australian Federal Police Association and Labor Party homeland security spokesman Arch Bevis. This is an issue that is often raised on the AFP internal forums but it’s interesting to see it get an airing in public.


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25 Responses to When is a Cop not a Cop?
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BenMac BenMac 9:42 pm 12 Jul 07

DanMan – As CWNA pointed out, the PM and all others are protected by an AFP group called CCP (Close Personal Protection).

Danman Danman 9:34 am 12 Jul 07

So who protects the PM? And visiting heads of States?

ADG ?

This is a question not a statement

BenMac BenMac 1:20 am 12 Jul 07

The apptitude, psycological and fitness tests to be accpeted to the college, as of now, are exactly the same for both Police and Protective. I believe the time spent at the college is now 16 weeks for Protective. Although that only came about in the last 6 months. So, you are correct in a way, the current serving Protective members aren’t upto the same standard as Police.

CWNA CWNA 12:18 am 12 Jul 07

BenMac – Agreed, but from a distance of more than about 5 meters, barely noticeable.

JJJ Monkey – I think BenMac may have been referring to the back ground check and security clearance regimen rather than the actual training requirements

JJJmonkey JJJmonkey 11:54 pm 11 Jul 07

“I work at Parliament House where the AFP-UP (Uniform Protection) as it is now know, secure the external sections of the building. They are all great people, and don’t deserve to be labeled as “putting people’s lives at risk”. They have to pass all the same requirements as the Police, “

I beg to differ….the training requirements are quite different… AFP Police are required to attend the College at Barton for 22 weeks… I’m not sure of the exact length of time for the AFP – UP but I believe it is only 8 to 10 weeks.

For the AFP – UP to transfer into the sworn police side of the AFP, they get some recognition for prior training, but they are still required to attend the majority of the 22 weeks.

I believe the entry requirements are also different.

There are a lot of people in the AFP-UP that are not able to meet the requirements to the police side of the AFP.

BenMac BenMac 11:34 pm 11 Jul 07

[i]About the only visual difference between uniform police and protection now is the checkered ribbon which police have on their hats and baseball caps.[/i]

Their shoulder epaulets also say Protective Services.

CWNA CWNA 11:08 pm 11 Jul 07

Pandy – the AFP provides personal protection to the PM, various at risk embassy officials and visiting VIPs in Canberra and Australia wide. They are all sworn police officers.

About the only visual difference between uniform police and protection now is the checkered ribbon which police have on their hats and baseball caps.

ant ant 8:38 pm 11 Jul 07

The article was interesting, as I’ve been puzzled for a while as to why they’d have cops, who undergo a LOT of training, guarding our building. I’m still not sure mind you. all their stuff says Australian Federal Police, and they wear guns, but no utility belts, and yes they do wear those nice cargo pants! I like those. they make their bums look better.
However, these blokes don’t seem very interested in chasing robbers or terr’rists. They seem to spend most mornings in their guard room guzzling toast in vast quantities.

Pandy Pandy 7:20 pm 11 Jul 07

So who protects the PM? And visiting heads of States?

I was approached once when a head of state was visiting Canberra. I wanted to see this man and was standing there with a group of other supporters waving a flag.

Some dude in a suit comes up to me flashes a badge and asks me to move away.

So do we have a Secret Service branch that will take a bullet for the PM? What is their name?

BenMac BenMac 7:06 pm 11 Jul 07

I work at Parliament House where the AFP-UP (Uniform Protection) as it is now know, secure the external sections of the building. They are all great people, and don’t deserve to be labeled as “putting people’s lives at risk”. They have to pass all the same requirements as the Police, they training at the AFP college at Barton and they have these powers:
– request a person’s name, address and reason for being in a place, or in the vicinity of a place, person or thing in respect of which the Protective Service has functions, where the officer reasonably suspects the person might have just committed, might be committing, or might be about to commit a prescribed offence,
– stop and search a person the officer reasonably suspects has in their possession a thing that could be used to cause substantial damage to a place or death or serious harm to a person in respect of which the Protective Service has functions, and
– seize a thing the officer is searching for or any other thing the officer reasonably suspects is likely to be used to cause death or serious harm to a person, or to a person who is in a place, or in the vicinity of a place, person or thing in respect of which the Protective Service has functions.
These powers come under the Australian Protective Service Amendment Act 2003.
I’d also like to point out that the AFP-UP are not a private company like Chubb. They were established in 1984 from serving police officers to act as the Commonwealth Government’s specialist custodial, protective security and Counter Terrorist law enforcement agency.

flying doormat flying doormat 6:04 pm 11 Jul 07

APS are just like any other security company ie Chubb but they just happen to have been taken under the AFP umbrella. If they were smart enough they would be in the police force rather than dressing up like them pretending to be something that they are not. Bit like a wolf in sheeps clothing!

caf caf 6:03 pm 11 Jul 07

Whilst I too am enormously sceptical of a lot of the security theatre, in this case I’m pretty sure that the staff working the scanners and the APS officers stationed at the airport would know each other pretty well.

Swaggie Swaggie 5:58 pm 11 Jul 07

Deano’s comment is so true, just stand at Canberra Airport by the Qantas departures gate and watch the OAP’s getting their shoes checked by the moronic staff there as people in police / APS uniforms (with guns) walk through into the departure lounge unchallenged. The whole security business is pure farce.

Maelinar Maelinar 3:57 pm 11 Jul 07

I believe this has been covered before under the category of ‘bells and whistles’ and ‘attempts to cover up a diminishing AFP by rebadging APS officers so they look like a bigger footprint on the ground’.

Ok that last category is a bit long, but it sounds good.

Kramer Kramer 1:45 pm 11 Jul 07

Is there a significant difference in required education/training, and pay levels?

Deano Deano 1:44 pm 11 Jul 07

In risk management circles, this is called security theatre – things designed to make people feel safer by appearing to look more secure.

Invariably it has the effect of making us less secure. For example, if I wanted to be a terrorist, having a police uniform would be very handy. Previously I would have had to join the police force or steal one from a police officer. Now I just have to join the PSO or steal one from a PSO – much easier.

Thumper Thumper 1:42 pm 11 Jul 07

The chick I know in APS would whip 90% of people in a 10km run.

In fact, 10 klicks and she’s just warming up…

Damn I’m unfit…

pseudonym pseudonym 1:37 pm 11 Jul 07

See AFP Act, 1979:

Sect 14 A: A PSO may arrest someone for a ‘protective service offence’ subject to grounds amounting to immanency.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/afpa1979225/s14a.html

Usually I would use a comlaw.gov.au reference, but there’s something funny with me net connection here.

In general, checking the statues is a rather quick way to settle these arguments.

Heavs Heavs 1:35 pm 11 Jul 07

I know one fatass APS who loves telling people he works for the Police.

Thumper Thumper 1:06 pm 11 Jul 07

Any APS and AFP (Police) officers care to comment?

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