After  7-hour drive from Canberra, I arrive in Melbourne and stay at the Gateway on Monash Motel. On Monday, April, 8, 2024 at 0700 hours, I arrive at the front gate of the Victoria Police Academy. This fine institution is in the Melbourne suburb of Glen Waverley. Inspector Mel NIXON and A/Sen. Sgt. Mirsad HODZIC greeted me warmly and walked me into their security area, which I do remember from 1986, so magnificent it is. Just past this checkpoint is an elaborate hall (a church really – this was a convent) and then they showed me their Monday morning outdoors parade consisting of 700 hundred recruits! Their walk onto the parade square in a seemingly endless stream, complete with fife and drum, was truly a treat to behold!

The force has over 16,000 officers.  To train all of these recruits is one thing, but bringing the serving members back in twice annually for a day of training updates (based on their use of force reports and data gleaned from their use of body-worn cameras since 2019) is very remarkable. Sgt. Bob MASLEN toured me around their facility which has gun ranges, Taser rooms, and modular rooms for ERT style training (room entries). They sport a 20-year-old outdoor “scenario village” which has a number of buildings found in any metropolitan area (pub, houses, and even a train station).

A new one was built indoors in Craigieburn (more than an hour away – but it was well worth the drive!) in 2015 at a cost of $32 million. The entire village cab be electronically shuttered to create a nocturnal environment, and it can even then be lit up in a variety of ways. The only such facility more impressive than that I have ever seen was the one that our Police Judo instructors witnessed at the Beijing People’s Police College a few year back. It was HUGE!

This Victoria Police Academy has a recruit training program of  31 weeks duration. After week 13, they learn office duties for 5 weeks followed by a few weeks in the the street (and later in the paddy wagon with two other members). I like that they film some of their training sims for debriefing later. The recruits are required to debrief the instructors with the usual “What did you see, what did you do, and why did you do it?” type of fashion – but with video playbacks being used to tighten up the learning process.

They had some cool equipment ranging from air pressure sim guns, shock vests (to sting when correctly targeted), etc. There are several “soft floor” rooms where blue-matted rooms facilitate defensive tactics training. Our own JIBC has just completed the installation of a “sprung” floor (metal coils under 2 layers of plywood, all which is under the usual matted surfaces found in most training halls). I imagine that there would have to be some major money here to train recruits (and in-service members) in these numbers. As with many agencies, fitness standards have become an afterthought, given that the recruiting pool now has no deep end.

They recruits are on probation for 2 years and all patrols are “2-up” meaning they always work in partnerships at the constable level. There have been a lot of car jackings, home invasions (many by groups of new, young, immigrants). Outlaw motorcycle gangs prefer the lax “anti-bikie” laws here, so there are many to contend with. There has been push back (for political reasons?) for Taser use (now using Taser-7), pressure point use, kneeling on the back types of uses of force. “Pain compliance” is now a dirty term.

A/Sen. Sgt. Chris DOUGHTY and Sen. Sgt. Bernie JENKINS were great contacts on the defensive tactics side of things. They showed a good deal of interest in my use-of-force study and in Police Judo. They say that “pushing” kinds of assaults outnumber the number of incidents of officers being struck, by a factor of five, but they also recognize that being on the ground with an arrestee should be avoided where possible.

I sat in on an Armed Active Offender class led by Craig BLUMERIS. He kindly gave me a few minutes to tell his class about my mission. His lesson to the class must have increased in importance and relevance because only a few short days later, as I was driving past Sydney to go to the police academy in Brisbane, there was a mass killing by a knife-wielding man at a mall at Bondi Junction. he was appropriately and solely dispatched by Insp. Amy SCOTT, the first police officer at the scene. That was a job very well done to take out a person who targeted mostly women (he killed 6 people  and hospitalized a dozen more).

I take a three days to drive the 1,800 kms to Brisbane while listening to the non-stop reporting of this tragedy and reflect more on my mission to make policing safer for all.




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