It was Easter weekend, so I had time to visit my new martial arts friends, as just described, while waiting for the Australian Federal Police Academy to open on Tuesday April 2. I was kindly greeted at the front gate by both Insp. Steve EVANS and Steve BOOTH. The latter Steve showed me around this facility to watch some Realty-Based Training (RBT) simulations, Taser training, and the gun range. Greg McRAE then took me to watch some of their handcuffing and searching class and then we went to the defensive tactics facility in nearby Fyshwick.

Use-of-force curriculum meeting headed by Insp. Steve EVANS (April 5, 2024).

Today I got a letter of rejection from South Australia in the form of: “We are not in a position to engage in your study at this point.” Maybe the recruits are away?

I find myself struggling to add blog and vlog posts due to my unfamiliarity with anything even slightly technical, not to mention that I am making my digital documentation from my ever-present notetaking and phone camera pics/vids of what I see. I always get back to my motel/hotel absolutely exhausted. I struggle to do but a few short workouts each week (sometimes in mini-microbursts of rest stop calisthenics/stretches. Getting up before noon too really sucks for this long-retired night hawk!

The next day I was up at 0700n hrs again to watch more Taser training (on the newer Taser 7 [2018] with the newest single-barb, multiple-shot capability of the Taser 10 [2023]). It is interesting to note that on August 12, 1993, I received a letter from Tasertron to get information about their product, as I was the VPD non-firearms weapons expert for almost two decades, and I wanted to look at the efficacy of using this tool. Then-Cst. Brad FAWCETT and I pitched the use of this less-lethal weapon to our Emergency Response Team with the ERT members loving it, but the Inspector was totally disinterested in it, given that it was “more tools and training” to deal with. A member from Victoria Police Department on Vancouver Island, Darren LAUR, later picked it up and their Department adopted it. We became followers instead of leaders. I could clearly see that this would be a useful tool that would spare some peoples’ lives under certain conditions. This was proven to be true.

The inventor of this complicated electronic mechanism, Jack COVER, told me over the phone that it was originally developed in the mid-60s as a less-lethal weapon for use in riots (and later for Air Marshal use). Taser International replaced Tasertron in 1993 (now Axon has captured the market) and they have made great strides in further developing this tool for law enforcement purposes.

In any case, there is a strong tendency to rely on belt tools in the AFP, which might be expected given the relatively less frequent number of street arrests that they make. Being Federal police, they are spread far and wide (beyond the borders of Australia, SE Asia in particular) to conduct major investigations. They do have a contracted municipal police service to the Australian Capital Territory, aka Canberra. They too are susceptible to public condemnations arising from Taser use (multiple drive stunning in particular), vascular neck restraints, pressure points use, three-point hold-downs (by kneeling on the back), Figure -4 leg locks, etc., and have multiple levels of oversight to deal with perceived excessive uses of force. Even the 21″ ASP batons (used 53 times last year – including the busting of windows), though a light-weight baton, has come under scrutiny (post Rodney KING). The 26″ Cam Lock Bon Wi is the preferred baton as it needs but one solid hit to get the job done. How much force the AFP uses is kept in tight control within the PROMIS system (Police Realtime On-line Management Information System).

The trainers use Tony BLAUER’s SPEAR system of defensive tactics to deal with assailants. The AFP rely on their Tasers (and other belt tools) given the brevity of their training, so they do not accentuate joint-locking or ground fighting. About 20 of their 60 trainers country-wide instructors spend the 30 days of training going over a wide range of defensive tactics (including firearms, active shooter, driver training, and scenarios). That’s a lot of ground to cover! Currently there are 155 recruits in training. Eddie SHAW (and his son Nick of their “SENSE Corporation”) trains and oversees the use of role players in the AFP training sessions. Like our own JIBC police training program, the AFP recognizes the significant value that players offer in their RBT sessions. Instructors (older police trainers) tended to get injured and sometimes lacked the acting expertise needed to make the scenarios realistic. Role players are a great option to have.

Eddie SHAW and his son Nick take me out to lunch (April 4, 2024).

General observations on current fitness abilities are that recruits are of a weaker generation lacking in sports and life experiences, so recruiters must draw from a pool (now a puddle) focusing on students often living at home, with poor situational awareness, and lacking in interpersonal skills.

I later attended the AFP’s Melbourne in-service training centre hosted by Sgt. Roger WATTS (Wed. April 10, 2024). This new facility (2023) occupies two floors and sports a gun range and a number of basic skills training rooms for its 600-700 members.

Sgt. Roger WATTS and a senior instructor at their new in-service training facility.

Insp. EVANS kindly arranged a visit to the police academy in Melbourne, so off I went to the state of Victoria, after having a farewell with Steve and his family (I do remember from 1986, the magnificent entrance to this facility).

What an excellent host Steve was. His lads were top notch. Many thanks guys!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *