The truck will be used for special operations around the island, including tactical response.
It was described by Australian Federal Police Superintendent Kurt Plummer as a “small donation” to the Cook Islands, but is also seen as a symbolic gesture of the ongoing partnership between the two countries in combating transnational crime.
Plummer said although the Cook Islands was an idyllic tourist destination, the country could not be blind to the fact that transnational organised crime also saw opportunities to exploit it in a number of different ways.
“And it’s our role to identify those opportunities that they are exploiting, and to combat them. We are seeing that the transhipment of narcotics through the Pacific coming to New Zealand and Australia is an increasing problem.”
Plummer said the Cook Islands played a very critical front-line role in combating the transhipment of a range of goods and highlighted the Pacific Patrol Boat programme, supported by both Australia and New Zealand, as being key to ensuring the security of the region.
The AFP have been working closely with the Cook Islands Police for the past 10 years and are now looking at new programmes to enhance cyber security in the Pacific, including education for children communicating online.
Plummer also described the Cook Islands Police Service as the “centre for excellence for command control and coordination in the Pacific’.
He says this capacity had been developed over the past couple of years following a request from Commissioner Tetava for the Cook Islands Police service to take a greater lead in the region.
Teteva said he was grateful, not only for the donated truck, but also for the AFP’s ongoing support of Cook Islands Police programmes. He added he was looking forward to that relationship continuing into the future.
Deputy prime minister Teariki Heather also thanked the Australian Federal Police on behalf of the people of the Cook Islands. He hoped the officers in charge of the new vehicle looked after it as well as he looked after his (five-year-old) truck, adding that it still looked like new.
He joked that he also hoped to see more gifts from the AFP in future.