A valuable partnership between New Zealand Police, New Zealand Customs and Pacific border and police agencies targeting organized crime was celebrated today with the launch of nine new detector dog teams.
Five officers from Samoa Customs, Tonga Police, Fiji Police, French Polynesia Gendarmerie and French Polynesia Customs graduated today after nine weeks of training at the New Zealand Police Dog Training Center in Trentham, Wellington. Four New Zealand Customs officers and their dogs also attended the ceremony to officially recognize their graduation as operational teams.
“This is a proud day for the graduates and all of our agencies, highlighting the value we place on working together to protect our borders and communities,” said New Zealand Police Dog National Coordinator Todd Sawall.
The ceremony was held by the New Zealand Police at the Dog Training Center in Trentham and was attended by officials and guests.
“Customs detector dog teams are a valuable addition to our ability to protect New Zealand’s borders by being trained to detect drugs and cash,” says Terry Brown, Intelligence, Investigations and Enforcement Manager, Customs Group.
“Although these four teams have been based at Customs in Auckland and Christchurch for the past year, it was great to have them all together to share their holidays.”
Chief Customs Officer Dave Huff, who works closely with New Zealand police colleagues to support border and enforcement capacity in the Pacific, adds that it is particularly important to share today’s formalities with graduates of the Pacific Detector Dog Program and graduates of individual units. French Polynesia Customs and Gendarmerie support program.
“Detector dogs are an added and vital layer of protection used by conservation and border agencies both here in Aotearoa New Zealand and by our partner agencies in the Pacific.
“The NZ Police and New Zealand Customs Pacific Detector Dog program has been running for six years now and we are proud of the close partnership we share with all our partner agencies in the region. These international partnerships will allow us to continue to fight transnational organized crime groups targeting our Pacific region,” said Mr. Huff.
Inspector Todd Southall says the partnership is effective at both an operational and strategic level and New Zealand Police are delighted to support, host and train managers from Pacific agencies. The New Zealand Police also provided dogs from the police detector dog training program.
“It’s been a busy and demanding nine weeks for staff, but they’ve overcome the challenges, including the changeable weather,” he says.
The course was led by New Zealand Police canine training instructor Sergeant Mike Robinson, assisted by Senior Customs Officer Dave Huff and Senior Customs Officer Taito Nawai Damuni. New Zealand police have also provided five dogs, four of which will go to sea to work in the Pacific.
Caption Pacific Narcotics Detector Dog Course: (left to right): Gendarmerie Randy Grimadias (French Polynesian Gendarmerie) and Bael; 1st Class Senior Agent Thierry Amaro (French Polynesia Customs) and Crete; Sergeant Mike Robinson (NZ Police); Constable Kameli Vanigi (Fiji Police) and Chief; Chief Customs Officer Taito Damuni (Fiji); Constable Uluaki Havea (Tonga Police) and Cricket; Customs Officer Taase Vaetoa and Euro (Samoa Customs).
1: Christchurch CO Kat and Dexter. Kat joined Customs in 2007 and became a sniffer dog handler in 2016.
2: Christchurch CO Hannah and Thor. Hanna joined the Customs Detector Dog Association in early 2022.
3. Auckland CO Cheryl and Aroha. Cheryl started working with the Customs Detector Dog Unit in early 2022.
4. Auckland CO Luke and Leo. Luka has been working in Customs since 2018 and joined the Detector Dog Association in 2021.