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