17 October 2014

Armed PSO threatened to kill dog at North Fitzroy station, dog owner claims

Chris Drane, his dog Poncho, and friend Tim Durkin were allegedly threatened by an armed PSO at Rushall station.
Chris Drane, his dog Poncho, and friend Tim Durkin were allegedly threatened by an armed PSO at Rushall station. Photo: Simon O'Dwyer

Police are investigating a complaint by two Melbourne musicians that a Protective Services Officer threatened to kill their dog while they were walking through a railway station underpass.

The pair, Chris Drane and Tim Durkin of guitar band Cherrywood, allege the officer put his hand on the butt of his gun and threatened to kill Drane's Rhodesian ridgeback, Poncho, after the dog barked at the officer.

The incident took place on Sunday afternoon in the pedestrian underpass at Rushall station in Fitzroy North, the two men have alleged in a statement submitted to the Police Conduct Unit of Victoria Police's Professional Standards Command.

The pair allege the threat was made moments after two PSOs stopped them in the underpass because they (Drane and Durkin) were carrying opened beer cans.

The officers told them it was an offence to drink alcohol at a railway station and demanded the two men's personal details. The men said they offered to turn around and leave the underpass, unaware it was part of the station. The underpass is on VicTrack land and is managed by Metro but is not inside the station gates and is commonly used as a public walkway to Merri Creek.

During the exchange the dog barked at the PSOs, and Durkin admits he facetiously said, "That's the way, Poncho."

It was then that the officer made his threat, the men claim.

"At the same moment, the shorter of the two PSOs reached for and placed his hand on his gun, stared me in the eye and said, 'That's a good way to get your dog killed,'" Drane wrote in a statement he submitted to police on Monday.

"Not only were we both appalled by this statement, but also very fearful for the life of the dog and of our own safety. This was a very excessive reaction to the situation," he wrote.

Drane and Durkin attempted to leave the underpass but the other PSO, who remained calm during the exchange, grabbed Drane's arm and insisted on taking the pair's details.

They relented, gave their information, and were let on their way.

The pair said the incident left them feeling shaken.

"It is concerning to think that people who are supposed to protect the public are actually threatening and scaring them," Drane said.

Victoria Police said on Wednesday that the incident was being investigated.

"The complaint has been acknowledged by the Professional Standards Command and will be assessed and investigated," a spokesman said.

Protective Services Officers have been stationed at Rushall for less than two weeks. It is one of Melbourne's quietest stations, according to patronage data.

The Napthine government has promised to deploy 940 PSOs to patrol Melbourne's 212 stations, plus four regional stations, by November. There are currently 929 officers guarding 156 stations between 6pm and the last train of the night.

Officers must complete a 12-week training course before graduating, which is shorter than the 33-week course required for general police duties.

theage.com.au 15 Oct 2014

Another PSychO PSO?

ALL interaction with police should be recorded in the event of future use in court.

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