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New Dogs Destined For Disrupting Drug Crime In The Pacific

Two constables - one from the North and one from the South Island are
graduating at the Trentham Dog Training Centre tomorrow.

The Police detector dog handlers along with handlers and dogs from Fiji
Police and Fiji Customs have completed their training and are ready to run
with the big dogs.

Experienced handler Senior Constable Lyal Bayliss and Detector Dog Luther are
heading back to Canterbury to start work, and it’s a first for Lyal as a
narcotics detector handler after 18 years of operating patrol dogs on general
duties, including the Armed Offender Squad.

In 2009 Lyal received a Bronze Merit Award, with his dog Duke for
apprehending an offender who was armed with a knife. In 2021 he was later
presented with a Commissioners Gold Merit Award for bravery with dog Brock
for apprehension of an offender with a firearm.

Luther was the last dog handled by Senior Constable Bruce Lamb who died of
natural causes in May of this year. Bruce had several dogs - notably Gage,
who lost his life when he was shot in the line of duty protecting Bruce in
2010.

Heading to Auckland is Senior Constable Zoe Eginton who will graduate with
her first operational dog, four-year-old detector dog Villa.

Zoe, an officer with 15 years in Wellington District has worked both
frontline and investigative work before being promoted to sergeant.

She’s always held a dream of becoming a Narcotics Detector Dog handler and
jumped at the opportunity when it became available.

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Inspector Todd Southall, National Coordinator: Police Dogs says “The
Pacific Detector Dog programme, which is funded by Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and Trade, managed by New Zealand Police and supported by New Zealand
Customs Service has proven to be very successful.The programme focuses on
Transnational Organised Crime and regional security across the Pacific. These
new handlers are excited to graduate with high performing dogs and will
continue to support and be a part of the programme.”

Picture left to right: Fiona McPhail (Senior Project Officer PDDP),
Inspector Todd Southall (National Coordinator – Police Dogs), S/Constable
Lyal Bayliss & Detector Dog Luther, Senior Customs Officer Roko Volau &
Detector Dog Ike, Sergeant Mike Robinson (Trainer), Constable Sailasa
Kerekere & Detector Dog Hague, Sergeant Sione Punaivaha (Trainer), Constable
Ilimeleki Leweiloma & Detector Dog Herb, Acting Sergeant Niumaia Lawanicina &
Detector Dog Frosty, Senior Constable Zoe Eginton & Detector Dog Villa.

“It’s been a demanding few weeks for all the handlers, especially our
colleagues from the tropics, who won’t be used to the cold spring weather
we’ve been having in New Zealand,” he says.

Graduating from Fiji Police and based in Suva are Acting Sergeant Niumaia
Lawanicina with Detector Dog Frosty; Constable Ilimeleki Leweiloma with
Detector Dog Herb and Constable Sailasa Kerekere with Detector Dog Hague.

Also graduating alongside his Police colleagues is Senior Customs Officer
Roko Volau and Detector Dog Ike from Fiji Customs, Suva.

New Zealand Customs Group Manager Intelligence, Investigations and
Enforcement, Terry Brown, congratulated Fijian Senior Customs Officer (SCO)
Roko Volau and his fellow graduates.

“SCO Volau’s graduation, along with his Fijian Police colleagues, and
together with the Tongan Police representative assisting the Pacific Detector
Dog Programme, continues an important relationship between Pacific border and
enforcement agencies and New Zealand Customs.

“Like New Zealand Police, Customs is proud to be part of the Programme and
the valuable work it does supporting enforcement capability in Pacific
countries. Detector dog operations and deployment supports wider efforts to
combat the growing threat of transnational crime in the Pacific. This
programme will support our Pacific partners to disrupt drug smuggling closer
to the source, and reduce harm reaching New Zealand,” says Terry Brown.

Todd continues, “The tasks the trainees have faced under the scrutiny of
the trainers while replicating their day-to-day variety of operational work
is not always easy. Weeks away from home and hard training will be put aside
when the handlers receive their graduation certificates tomorrow.

We’ve been assisted by Sergeant Sione Punaivaha from Tonga Police, who has
helped train the handlers on this course. Sione has been with the Tongan
Dog Section since 2014.

“Dog teams do an amazing job in helping keep our communities safe. Their
ability to detect scent is approximately 5000 times that of humans. They
are remarkable at what they do in detecting cash firearms and narcotics. 
They undertake a range of equally important prevention and community
engagement work alongside their everyday role,” he says.

These teams provide a critical frontline response for Police and Customs in
regard to detection and prevention – we can’t do without them."

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