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When is a Cop not a Cop?

By 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.

What’s Your opinion?

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25 Responses to
When is a Cop not a Cop?
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 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 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 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 1:45 pm 11 Jul 07

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

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 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 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.

Usually I would use a 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 1:35 pm 11 Jul 07

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

Thumper 1:06 pm 11 Jul 07

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

Thumper 1:06 pm 11 Jul 07

Nah Caf, but my info is from a current serving APS officer.

Oh well, such is life 🙂

caf 1:02 pm 11 Jul 07

Well my info is from an AFP member – any online link Thumper to what those powers are?

Thumper 1:00 pm 11 Jul 07

They have Protective Services written their shoulder tabbards.

And they do have powers of arrest greater than an ordinary citizen, but not to the degree of Police.

Jazz 12:57 pm 11 Jul 07

Except that you’d be more likely to pay attention to the guy arresting you if he has a gun and a badge and looks like a cop (sans polyester trousers)

caf 12:54 pm 11 Jul 07

Yeah they’re also to be found strolling around airports. Apparently the PSOs don’t have any powers of arrest beyond that of any ordinary citizen.

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