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Pacific dog handlers welcomed

11.25am 12 October 2022 | Social Media

On 27 September, a pōwhiri was held at the New Zealand Police Dog Training Centre for Police and Customs courses as part of the Fiji Police Force Strengthening Programme, the Pacific Detector Dog Programme (PDDP) and French Polynesia Detector Dog Support initiative.

Eight Fiji Police patrol dog handlers and supervisors, and six narcotic detector dog handlers and supervisors from Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, and French Polynesia attended the pōwhiri to welcome them to the course.

Over the last 10 years, NZ Police has supported partner countries with expertise in Police dogs. These programmes have merged into one programme, called the PDDP, which officially started in 2018 between the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Police and Customs with the aim to build safe and secure borders.

“Our goal is for the Pacific Detector Dog Units to become as self-sufficient as possible. To achieve this, dog units need to be effectively led, operate within the law, and follow organisational policy and practice. This ensures that the Pacific communities and partners have trust and confidence in them,” says Chief Customs Officer David Huff.

In 2019, an assessment of the French Polynesia detector dog capability was initiated through independent approaches to Customs and Police by French Polynesia Customs and the Gendarmerie. In particular, the detection of methamphetamine was a key focus.

Training was delivered in French Polynesia by Police and Customs trainers, after which, French Polynesia teams were able to successfully detect importations of methamphetamine at the border.

After this result, French Polynesia Customs and Gendarmerie liaised with Customs and Police to request ongoing support. 

This is the second course held this year with French Polynesia handlers. At the completion of this current course that is running in Wellington, three new narcotic detector teams consisting of two Customs and one Gendarmerie, will have been trained in New Zealand.

In country support for French Polynesia Customs and Gendarmerie handlers by New Zealand advisors started in 2022 and will continue into 2023.

“The PDDP has given Customs the opportunity to strengthen the relationships we have with other agencies, both nationally and internationally with Police and Customs and it is important to have this co-operation. It has been rewarding to help the Pacific Island nations and see the progress they have made within their dog units,” says David.