“Special Ops may sound like the field of overseas metropolitan forces but Cook Islands’ Police do have the skills and training for high risk situations,” says a spokesman.
As Prime Minister Henry Puna talks with other Pacific leaders, Senior Sergeant Epii Poila will sit proudly back at home watching the Tuvalu Police Force use their training in the field.
Poila conducted a three-week strategic security and training operation for the Tuvalu team in time for the Pacific Islands meeting.
He worked alongside an Australian Federal Police team, instructing 96 personnel (including 20 recruits) in readiness for their Forum responsibilities.
The training activities covered tactical communications, and use of force. The local personnel also received motorcade training and had instruction for Close Protection Personnel due to the numerous dignitaries attending.
As a young man, Poila wanted to serve in the New Zealand defence forces. He was offered a place in the Navy in 2001 – but turned it down to return home to his family.
“There’s no place like home,” Poila says. “Simple as that.”
The demand to drop everything and attend to unpredictable police work is a constant pressure for many officers, and the desire to help people is very much the motivating force.
But balancing time between family and police work is the challenge in preserving two “homes”.
“I love the job – being a police officer,” he says.
Police spokesman Trevor Pitt says “Poila” is one name guaranteed to be found on any list of personnel called up by the Commissioner for tactical police work.