Protective Services Officer (PSO)
What does a PSO do?
We are basically policing at train stations. We look after public safety for the general commuters, we interact with the public and make sure everyone gets where they’re going safely. We deal with anything as we come across it or we may be given a job along the way.
Where do you work?
I’m in recruitment at the moment, but before I was at Camberwell Railway Station.
Who do you work for?
We’re all part of Victoria Police, so we undergo the same training as police at the academy in the sense of defensive tactics, but the law restricts what we need to know. That’s why our training is so much less, because we don’t need to do the driver training and things like that.
Why did you decide to become a PSO?
I’ve wanted to join Victoria Police for a while, and I saw the PSO job come up and thought it was a really good starting point for me.
It was a really good opportunity. At the moment there’s no direct bridging (into Victoria Police), but it’s definitely a great way to get some experience and improve confidence for taking the next step into the police force.
How did you become a PSO?
It’s the same application process as the police, so you start off with an online application and then there’s an exam.
From there we have fitness testing, psych testing, medical testing, and a panel interview… and then we wait for a position at the academy to come up.
You need to have a lot of patience. It does take between four to six months to get through everything. You need to pretty much tell them your whole life story. It is a lengthy process, but it’s well worth it in the end!
What do you like best about your job?
Community interaction. You spend a lot of time walking around getting to know a lot of commuters and you have your regulars that you meet every day. You get to meet a lot of different people. I’m definitely a people person, so it works well for me!
What’s the hardest thing about your job?
It’s probably the conflict, and it’s a big part of our job. As prepared as you are - or think you are - it’s still a big learning curve when you first come into contact with someone who is quite aggressive.
We’ve got a good team there to help you out. There are always two people working together, you never go out by yourself.
What does a typical working day involve?
Just before 4pm we’ll get to the police station and get dressed, at 4pm we’ll go down just to do paperwork and get all our equipment for the evening. Around 5pm we normally have a briefing just on anything happening in the area that we need to know about and about safety.
We’re at the train station by 6pm where we’re just patrolling for the evening, and whatever happens we deal with. In the evening we do the reverse, we go back to the police station and often have a debriefing if something has happened. We drop our gear, get changed, and go home.
We’re always on the train platforms by 6pm, that’s the government promise: 6pm until last train. On Sunday to Thursdays we work from 4pm - 2am, and then Fridays and Saturdays we work from 5pm - 3am.
What sort of skills do you need to do your job?
You need to be a people person, and be willing to learn. It’s not a job where a lot of people have had something similar in the past. It’s often a very different path to take, so as long as you’re willing to learn and take on board a lot of new skills, then just being a people person is great!
What kind of skills have you learnt doing this job?
My communication has definitely evolved. I thought I was good, being in hospitality (in the past), but you learn to communicate and engage with people in a completely different way in this role. My people skills have really developed.
What advice do you have for people thinking about doing this job?
If you want to do it, you’ve just got to apply and try it out! It’s a very different job role so you’ll never know unless you give it a try.
It is a lengthy process to get it, but it’s worth it in the end. It’s very rewarding, we’ve got a good team we work with and there are always a lot of people to help you out if you need any help. If you’re looking to apply, just be aware of how long it takes.
To find out more about becoming a Protective Services Officer, check out www.policecareer.vic.gov.au/pso (new window).
Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (new window) (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).