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The Pacific Training Initiative: cooperation in action.

In their book, Megatrends 2000, John Naisbitt and Patricia Aburdene call the 21st century the "Century of the Pacific."(1) Indeed, in many ways, it appears that the nations of the Pacific region have already embarked on a path of unparalleled progress and change.

While observers often concentrate exclusively on the economic aspects of this change, it is important to remember that the explosive growth of their collective economies during the past 3 decades induced other equally important transformations within these nations. Many of these social, governmental, and policy changes will impact far beyond the Pacific region to affect other parts of the world. Because of the historically close relationship between the United States and other Pacific nations, much of this change will have particular impact in America.

One area in which the United States and several Pacific nations have established a cooperative approach is law enforcement training. The Pacific Training Initiative (PTI) combines the resources of several Pacific nations and the United States to provide advanced training in law enforcement methodology and procedures. In many cases, geography and other factors make this cooperative approach the only practical avenue for providing this type of training.


Staggering distances of open ocean between small island nations characterize the geography of the Pacific. The Pacific Ocean's 64-million square miles covers one-third of the earth's surface.

The vast distances between the many islands and their numerous jurisdictions make them particularly susceptible to traveling carpet-baggers and con artists, who swindle island residents, businesses, and even governments out of their savings. The geography and disjointed legal systems of the region also invite drug runners, money laundering operations, and fugitives, who take advantage of both the vast distances and numerous jurisdictions to shield themselves from justice.

During the past several years, for example, money laundering operations and other criminal activities associated with offshore banking, which once prospered in the Caribbean, came under the increasing scrutiny of law enforcement. As a result, many of these criminal operations identified the Pacific as an attractive alternate location. Five Pacific island nations recently enacted bank secrecy legislation--a banking feature that money launderers find particularly attractive. Unfortunately, Pacific law enforcement agencies have limited experience from which to draw to confront this type of criminal activity.

Imagine the differences between the geographical and jurisdictional realities facing Pacific law enforcement agencies and those confronted by typical American departments. If a large-scale fencing operation is detected in an American community, the police department can develop a sting operation with surrounding jurisdictions, request investigative assistance from their State police, and forward evidence or fingerprints to the FBI for identification. A multijurisdictional approach involving the investigative resources of different agencies at various governmental levels is common.

Several factors make this type of approach implausible in the Pacific. Since the nearest jurisdiction may literally be 3,000 miles away, multiagency investigations are rare. Many island nations maintain a single national police agency with resources resembling those of a single law enforcement agency in rural America. In addition, no depository of fingerprints, state-of-the-art crime labs, or computerized crime information networks exists. These factors create formidable obstacles to apprehending sophisticated criminals who migrate from nation to nation violating laws at will.

These conditions reaffirm the importance of cooperation among the law enforcement agencies of these nations. Moreover, the emerging prominence of the Pacific region, as well as its increasing trade with North America, makes enhanced law enforcement capabilities in this area critical to the United States. The Pacific Training Initiative represents the first step in an emerging cooperative approach.


Road to Cooperation

In an address before an Asia/Pacific meeting of the IACP in Seoul, South Korea, the Director of the FBI stressed the need for enhanced police training in the region. Several months later, at a meeting of the South Pacific Chiefs of Police Conference, FBI officials discussed training needs with chiefs of police departments throughout the Pacific region.

These department administrators noted that the difficulties in staging police training in this region were compounded by several factors. The three primary problems were the great distances between each of the island nations, the near impossibility of hosting training schools on an individual island basis, and the lack of financing available from many of the island governments.

During the IACP meeting, the police chiefs of the island nations encouraged the FBI to proceed with a police training initiative in the Pacific region. Both groups agreed that the most plausible avenue would be to hold the schools on American installations (or territories) and to invite surrounding independent island nations to participate.

The First PTI School

Planners scheduled the first Pacific Training Initiative school to take place on Guam in the northern Pacific. They determined that a 4-week course would be optimum--long enough for meaningful instruction but not so long as to inconvenience participants or departments. This first curriculum targeted midlevel managers.

The U.S. Navy installation on Guam cooperated fully with the school's planners by making classroom space and lodging available at a nominal fee. Personnel from FBI field offices on the west coast of the United States and Honolulu, as well as special agents from the legal attache's office in Canberra, Australia, participated in the training exercises.

The Guam Police Department acted as cohost for the school and was instrumental in making it a reality. Because travel expenses remained a difficulty for many of the participants, the U.S. Department of the Interior assisted by making funds available for travel to the school from the former U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific.

Since every participating agency expressed a need for management instruction, the opening week of training concentrated on supervisory and management techniques. The next 2 weeks focused on basic investigative techniques, including instruction on interview and interrogation procedures, crime scene searches, report writing, and evidence collection. Because of an expressed need from several of the departments, instructors devoted the fourth week of the seminar to interpersonal violence issues.

Building on Success

At the next annual meeting of the South Pacific Chiefs of Police Conference, the chiefs heard reports on the first PTI session and urged that the initiative continue. Thus, a second session of the Pacific Training Initiative was scheduled.

This training session, held on the island of American Somoa in the South Pacific, represented another example of multiagency cooperation. Since no naval facility exists on American Somoa, the island's Department of Public Safety secured a grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice, to cover lodging costs for the visiting participants. In addition, the South Pacific Chiefs of Police Conference secured a grant from the United Nations' Drug Control Agency in Vienna, Austria, to cover travel expenses for the attendees.

Planners adjusted the curriculum for this session of the PTI to address training needs identified by the current participants. They retained the blocks of instruction concerning supervision/management and basic investigative techniques. However, a week of instruction on drug-related issues replaced the instruction on interpersonal violence.

With the conclusion of the second session, midlevel officers from each of the independent island nations of the South Pacific had received PTI training. Planners now anticipate that the Pacific Training Institute will become an annual event, alternating between Guam and American Somoa. In future sessions, supervision/management and investigative techniques will remain as the core curriculum, with additional training provided on areas identified as being of particular interest to attendees.


The Pacific Training Initiative draws upon the resources of various agencies and organizations to address specific training needs. In the process, the PTI fosters goodwill and understanding among the emerging island nations of the Pacific and between these nations and the United States. The growing economic and cultural interdependence between America and the Pacific make such cooperative efforts not only worthwhile, but essential.
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Title Annotation:US training for law enforcers of Pacific region countries
Author:Baker, Thomas J.
Publication:The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Previous Article:Civil liability and police-prosecutor relations.
Next Article:Drug testing policy: a cooperative effort.

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