Cobram’s Constable Leah Booth is an enthusiastic advocate of women in active police duty.
She has worked in uniform the whole time she has been stationed in Cobram after moving here in October, 2015 as a probationary constable.
‘‘I’ve done a couple of shifts with the highway patrol and with the CIU,’’ Const Booth said.
‘‘That’s probably my favourite, the CIU, and that’s what I want to do when I get further into my career,’’ she said.
‘‘Coming to the country, it’s very different and the way we do the policing is very different as well.
‘‘Obviously it’s more community friendly and rather than going to jobs every five minutes, you go and have a chat to primary school students and to the football club, to make yourself known in the area.
‘‘It’s not as busy as the city, but you can always find work.
‘‘The community side is my favourite — last year I was working as youth liaison officer, going to primary schools to talk to them.
‘‘We get some of them coming to the station and we do tours around the station, so I really enjoy that.’’
Const Booth said she originally wanted to be a primary school teacher, so with her interest in young children, she now wants to make sure children know they can come and talk to police and not be scared.
‘‘I would rather they see me down the street and have a chat and a wave,’’ she said.
‘‘I did want to be a teacher when I was at school, but when I left school I became a qualified sports therapist and I worked at North Melbourne Football Club in the gym.
‘‘A job like that isn’t full-time and there’s no job security, so I always thought policing would be my back-up.’’
Const Booth doesn’t have a family background in the police force.
‘‘I didn’t have any friends in the police at all, either.
‘‘I just wanted something where I could go to work every day and it would be different.
‘‘You never know what’s going to be thrown at you and I like that challenge, not sitting in the office all day, I like to get out.’’
And would she recommend other women take on a job in the force?
‘‘Yes, definitely — I am always happy when my friends ask me about it, or when young girls come in here and ask about my progress in the police force,’’ Const Booth said.
‘‘I like to help them with their preparations for getting into the police force.
‘‘It’s an awesome job and I would recommend it to them.’’
And the biggest challenges in policing?
‘‘Sometimes you go to job and think, ‘I don’t know what to do’, but there’s always someone to call to get advice.
‘‘You don’t leave the academy knowing everything in law that there is.
‘‘The hours can be hard, when you get overtime.
‘‘You don’t know, you come to work thinking you’re going to do an eight-hour shift and can end up doing an extra shift, but you get paid well to do the overtime.’’
And the highlights?
‘‘It’s exciting, there is never a day when I don’t want to come to work, you just never know what you are going to be doing.
‘‘I enjoy working with the CIU, I’ve done a few of my own search warrants, where I get information from the public, which I love.
‘‘They tell me what’s going on and we use that information together with CIU and go out to the job.
‘‘That’s probably the highlight because that’s where I want to go with my career, working with them.
‘‘It’s been different working with uniform and CIU, they’ve got different ways of working, different ways of policing.
‘‘There is a lot of paperwork but you just have to use time management, it’s important to get on top of it.’’
Is there a particular role that policewomen play?
‘‘There’s a lot of times when people come to the front counter and they want speak in private — they don’t feel comfortable speaking to a policeman about it.
‘‘I am one of three women who are operational at the moment, but I went through a stage where I was the only one,’’ she said.
‘‘It might be a male or a female victim and they may want to speak to a female.
‘‘Sometimes a male will want to talk to a female because they can empathise a bit better.
‘‘Going to jobs like say, family violence, I will talk to the family members rather than the perpetrator and I’m happy with that.
‘‘And I will talk to the children as well — they feel a bit more comfortable speaking to a woman.
‘‘And then there are times when it’s completely opposite, where people would rather speak to a male.’’
And how does a policewoman relax after work?
‘‘I have a dog and I like to get home to it.
‘‘I was playing netball for Cobram last year, but I want to get further in my career.
‘‘That’s not to say you can’t play sport when you’re working — I still go to the gym on a daily basis, but I just found it a bit hard to travel long distances.
‘‘Last year I had every Thursday afternoon and every Saturday off so I could to go to training and play netball.’’
In the future, Const Booth hopes to become a detective, which means going to Melbourne to do a course, initially for eight weeks.
‘‘It’s a bit in-depth but I can’t apply until next year,’’ she said.
‘‘I need to do four years as a constable before I can apply for the course.
‘‘They just want to make sure everyone’s got experience at uniform level in the basics before you branch off into another area of policing.
‘‘I would be happy to be a senior constable and maybe one day a sergeant — at this stage I really don’t know.
‘‘I really love it, just knowing that there are so many opportunities for me so early on in my career.’’
- Grahame Whyte