More Top Stories

Rugby Union

Bigger and busier 2023: PM

31 December 2022

Rugby league

Moana target 2025 World Cup

11 November 2022

Trained to tame : Corrections staff sharpen skills as security concerns rise

Tuesday 14 November 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Local, National


Trained to tame : Corrections staff sharpen skills as security concerns rise
Corrective Services staff celebrate advanced training in emergency response at Arorangi Prison on Monday. Their tutor Dan Turua is pictured at front. PHOTO: AL WILLIAMS/23111320

Recent arrests have come as a stark reminder to Corrective Services staff in stepping up to prepare for emergency situations within prison walls.

Arorangi Prison Superintendent Teariki Purua delivered the message as a dozen of his staff graduated from a challenging four-week advanced emergency response programme in close encounter tactical combat.

Purua said a lot of visitors to Rarotonga were compromising security, and dynamics within corrections were constantly changing.  

He gave mental health, drug abuse and prisoner segregation as examples of challenging factors for staff.

Those staff who had undergone the training would now be first responders, should tensions spill over at the facility.

“We are surrounded by the unexpected; we get a lot of flights from Australia, and Hawaii (once a weekly), a lot of people coming here who compromise security.

“Keep your ears and eyes open, look at the environment; look after the safety of yourselves and others.

“This is no joke, when there is a problem, this is the real thing.”

Purua said there were real concerns for Corrective Services in terms of balancing well-being at the Arorangi facility.

“This is not the end of training; we don’t know what the future holds, we are trying to avoid anything that compromises the safety of this place; we are part of looking after this country.”

Emergency response training instructor Dan Turua of the Cook Islands Martial Arts Academy took staff through the month-long programme.

Turua, who has conducted similar training with security officers in New Zealand, said it was not a self-defence workshop, but a matter of staff going in to sort a problem first.

“You are within a phone call of these people; this (certificate) is a piece of paper, what really is important is your head,” he told graduating staff.

“Repetition is the mother of all skills, again and again, keep it alive.”

Turua said staff were taken through four weeks of physical, psychological, restraint, de-escalation and response training.   

Prison officer Joseph Purua said Turua had shown staff how to go into a situation and take control.

“There are a lot of people coming into our custody; a lot of us now have more confidence in our ability, this comes hand in hand with the job, what we do, what we can take in hand, any situation with the team.”

Chief probation officer Angelique Elisaia said the graduates had been individually selected, should there be an emergency at Arorangi Prison.

“We are dealing with a lot more people with a lot more mental health and drug abuse issues.”