Month: June 2024

Auckland In-service Training

Auckland In-service Training

A blur of towns, crossroads, and touristy sites, many with long unpronounceable Maoritized names, are passed as I make my way up the picturesque east coast of the North Island. There are massive rolling hills populated, even on the steep bits, by daring sheep, cows, and even domesticated deer! Twisted gnarly trees look like Mother Nature has had a few lessons in the art of bonsai, so beautiful they are, especially when they sprout along from the side of a cliff being perpetually pounded by waves, or when they proudly stand atop otherwise denuded hills as sole survivors of the devastating effects of over-deforestation. White Feather Pampas Grasses (resembling golden feather dusters), glow brightly in the sunlight, adding a surrealness to the landscape. I make slow progress with all the pulling over that I am doing (especially around the Coromandel Peninsula) to try and digitally capture the fantastic scenery en route to my destination.

I wake up before my alarm goes off at 0545 hours on May, 16, 2024, and make my way to the Tamaki Makauru Tactical Training Centre (in-service training centre) where James PLATT welcomes me and introduces me to some of his training staff (Troy, Ben, Al, etc.) working the day shift (the 1300-2100 hr afternoon shift allows them to offer a good spectrum of training and qualification times for the frontline staff). I meet all 16 of them over the next few days (5 are unsworn members – they may have previous police experience). All are friendly and easy to share knowledge with.

I start off by visiting their 12-bay, 50 m. range where they use their limited rounds (90) to practice their marksmanship and to ultimately qualify (@ 10 m.) with their additional 10 rounds (training on the Bushmaster using 556 rounds @ 20 m. is another matter). Putting 4,000 members through in three 6.5 hour sessions per annum is no easy task. Although they do not carry firearms, the vehicles are equipped with a trunk safe for their Glocks and rifles. They are looking at AirSoft and virtual reality training now, and are transitioning from the T-2 to the Taser 10. It is interesting to note that there are two levels of shooters on the force: Level 1 are regular force members, while Level 2’s are more of the desk-jockey types (“office dwellers”), so they require only a single 4.5 hour session to practice and qualify, as well do a refresher on OCS and batons (no Taser carry for them).

All are supposed to pass the Police Competency Test (PCT) every two years, which consists of 10 physical tasks in a timed 400 meter obstacle course (pushing a trailer, carrying a wheel assembly, doin a 200 m. run, walking along a raised beam, a 1.8 m. long jump, 1 m. vault, 30 m. agility zig-zag run, including crawling under hurdles, and climbing through a window then climb over a 1.8 m. wall, a 75 kg body drag for 7.5 m., and finally a 2.2 m. wire fence climb). This makes me think about the purpose of our long-used Police Officer Physical Abilities Test (POPAT) developed in the mid-80s by Doug FARENHOLTZ. I was one of his test subjects, wh0 wore a heart monitor and filled in green activity sheets during my patrol shifts.

I also remember seeing a “sweat track” in Australia in 1986 which was an outdoor obstacle course, and if I recall correctly, one not used for testing, rather for self-training purposes. New recruits here must have passed the initial Physical Appraisal Test (PAT) consisting of a 2.4 km run, a vertical jump, grip strength test, push-ups and a few anthropometric measurements to ensure that they are reasonably fit enough to do the job. Getting on the job is one thing; staying on is another. Many officers seem to be migrating to Australia. As with other agencies, the recruiting pools is getting more shallow by the day.

The trainers tell me that, like Australia, domestic violence is of great concern to the force. Why? There must be some deep-seated cultural problems brewing in their societies. We have our share of this crime, but not to the extent seen down here.

James takes me to the nearby Tamaki Makauru Training Village, a scenario site where $1.2 million NZD of a large warehouse allowed them to put in modular “Trango” buildings (for $300,000 NZD). This sim village has cars, furnishings, and other common items that can be safely employed in their reality-based training sessions. I think of the sad state of our own simulation rooms and feel embarrassed. I do have hope that changes will be forthcoming, as evidenced the the installation of a top-notch training floor.

To get a better perspective on their municipal problems, I ride shotgun in their police helicopter with Scott and his crew. While the pilot and co-pilot get the beast up to the 2,000′ altitude and make slow circles about the city and its environs, I watch Scott work through a list of places that he has to check for vehicular activity (he can read and record a plate from that height).

Back at the training centre, James arranges for his crew to bid me farewell, including a Maori safe travels prayer with the whole group. It was very touching. This was a great way to end my police training visit to New Zealand. Thanks guys!

I do a fast run up to the north end of the island and later take a flight out of Auckland on May 20th after 82 days on the road (4,800 km of driving). Apart from a short nap, I stay up for 33 hours. I realize that my pace has been very challenging on my ageing body. Despite my tiredness, I look forward to my cross-Canada portion of my tour.