By ANA NAISORO
Officials from the New Zealand Police started a special tour of the Fiji Police’s K-9 Units this morning at Nasova.
Headed by New Zealand Police Pacific Liaison Officer Superintendent Ross Ardern the three member team also consisted of their National Manager Dog Mr Brandon Gibson and New Zealand Custom’s Officer Mr Andrew Walker.
The team is in the country to specifically visit the Fiji Police’s K-9 unit and look at areas of assistance to a vital operational arm of police work.
The relationship enjoyed by the two countries and organisations dates back to 1961 when the New Zealand Police had assisted in the setting up of Fiji Police’s first K-9 Unit with 3 tracker dogs and 3 handlers.Since then Fiji Police has been able to send its officers to New Zealand for specialized training.
The Fiji Police since 2011 has been de-centralizing its K-9 Unit to the Western and Northern Division considering their important role and has since established units in Taveuni, Raralevu, Vitogo, Cuvu and Lausa.
To date there are 8 kennels throughout Fiji with 36 k-9 personnel, however the vision is to set up more kennels in the maritime areas.
In welcoming the team Director Operations SP Tito Elo says the Fiji Police is grateful for their counterpart’s continuous support and looks forward to developing it further with the visit.
Officer in Charge K-9 Unit Inspector Ulaiasi Tuilevuka says despite their lack of capabilities they are still optimistic of attaining their medium to long term goals.
“We are always looking to align ourselves with top international K-9 Units and New Zealand is definitely a top choice for us considering the long standing relationship we’ve enjoyed since the 1960’s”.
“Considering the growing threats of illegal trade happening around our borders there is a dire need to set up more kennels in the maritime areas such as Lau and Kadavu to better monitor such activities”.
The team will be visiting the K-9 Units throughout the divisions starting in the East tomorrow.
“Some of our capability gaps include training, lack of qualified handlers, training equipment and K-9 capabilities and in the past we’ve looked to New Zealand for assistance which we must acknowledge has been forthcoming”.
New Zealand Police Pacific Liaison Officer Superintendent Mr Ross Ardern commended the vision to establish kennels in other divisions particularly in maritime divisions.
“The drug seizures that have occurred recently within the region should be a concern to all law enforcers as the trend is to use crafts to transport drugs in and out of the region considering its vastness”.
“Your vision to set up kennels in the Lau Group for example is commendable and we are optimistic that at the end of the visit we will come up with a way we can work together and continue to enjoy this relationship that goes back decades”.
The team goes back next week.