More AFP boots on the ground to fight crime

Editor’s note: Video grabs from Superintendent Jason Byrnes and recruits are available for download.

The AFP has boosted its ranks with 332 recruits this year as crime-fighting priorities focus on countering terrorism and foreign interference; transnational serious organised crime; cyber and fraud; and child exploitation.

The recruits – 227 men and 105 women – are aged between 18 and 56 – and will be posted throughout Australia. The recruits graduating on 26 November come from many different backgrounds – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Polish/Portugese, Italian, South African, Sri Lankan, British, Spanish, Czech, German and Swiss.

Seventy-two recruits have transferred from state police forces, bringing significant expertise and experience.

The AFP’s maxim is Policing for a Safer Australia. Even during the pandemic, the dedication and resilience of the AFP enabled members to unleash maximum damage on the criminal environment.

And despite the pandemic, the AFP College continued to train recruits, even increasing the numbers on previous years.

Superintendent Jason Byrnes commended the recruits who studied and graduated during COVID-19.

“This is not something the College has ever had to face in its many years of training. The safety of our people is paramount and that was no different during the pandemic,’’ Superintendent Byrnes said.

“These recruits have been unable to travel home and see loved ones. The college arranged a number of trivia and movie nights within the college to ease the impact of lockdown on the recruits. Additionally, extra welfare officers were available to support the recruits.

Protective Service Officer Recruit Brenten Camuglia said his peers faced a multitude of obstacles this year during the course.

“My training started in the peak of the lockdowns, leaving my wife and son in Sydney, I was hopeful that lockdown wouldn’t last long, unfortunately it was not the case,” Recruit Camuglia said.

“We are lucky in the sense that we have means of communications now such as FaceTime so I was still able to maintain a healthy relationship with my family.

“Making good of a difficult situation, the locked down at the College not only allowed me to focus on my own performance but it also gave me an opportunity to socialise and assist my fellow recruits more than I would have if I could have gone back to Sydney more frequently.”

For Recruit Taylah Potter joining the police force was something she always wanted to do but thought she would be waiting a long time, due to her age and prior experience, or lack there-of.

“I come from a military background but it never felt like the right avenue for me to go down, I had always enjoyed community engagement and the feeling that comes with helping people,” Recruit Potter said.

Throughout the year lockdown restrictions have meant families and friends have not been able to attend graduation ceremonies, until late last month.

Recruit Dellaine Bannan was thrilled to have her husband at the ceremony after restriction eased in the ACT.

“Living at the College throughout COVID was challenging, living only 15 minutes away and I couldn’t visit my husband and dogs.”

“However, this has shown that as a group how resilient we were, we are not just a group of 30 people thrown in together, it created a team environment that cared and supported each other,” said Recruit Bannan.

All recruits complete full-time training at the AFP College in Barton, Canberra. During that time they are taught and trained by expert instructors in all aspects of police work, including law, investigation techniques, police powers, firearms, driver training and mandatory physical fitness training.

Meet the recruits

Recruit Taylah Potter

Police Recruit Taylah Potter is the youngest of her family. At just 21-years-old, she had been studying psychology and forensics at the University of Canberra before deciding the join the AFP. Definitely a course that will be relevant as she embarks on her policing career.

Recruit Potter had always spoke about wanting to join the police force but thought she would be waiting a long time, due to her age and prior experience – or rather the experience she felt she lacked.

“I come from a military background but it never felt like the right avenue for me to go down, I had always enjoyed community engagement and the feeling that comes with helping people,” Recruit Potter said.

“I had numerous interactions with police in my jobs in hospitality and always enjoyed our conversations and envied how they carried themselves.”

“I spoke with numerous female members and their stories regarding recruitment and the experience further made it evident that this is where I wanted to be.”

Taylah graduated late last month alongside 54 other recruits during a year like no other, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 was always a big risk factor when beginning the course and there were numerous steps taken to ensure our safety was prioritised. Our instructors made us feel welcome and were always ready for whatever questions or concerns we had.”

Recruit Potter now joins a team in Victoria.

PSO Recruit Brenten Camuglia

PSO Recruit Brenten Camuglia grew up in Sydney and worked for Qantas for 13 years and Fire and Rescue NSW for two years prior to joining the AFP.

Recruit Camuglia explains that in his twenties he had developed a passion for emergency services and when the opportunity made itself available to take voluntary redundancy from Qantas due to the COVID pandemic he took the gamble to pursue another career.

“After two years working a firie, a colleague told me that the AFP were recruiting so I did some research and realised that a role as a Protective Service Officer (PSO) would be a great fit for me,” Recruit Camuglia said.

“Upon receiving my call of acceptance into the AFP I was told I would be moving to Canberra. My wife and I are excited for the opportunity to move and try a new lifestyle with our 18 month old son.

“Now that I have spent some time in Canberra, I am really happy with my posting here and am looking forward to creating a life for my family in this great city.”

COVID-19 brought some challenges but also positives for Recruit Camuglia throughout his recruit training.

“Due to my wife and son living in Sydney I was unable to see them for the majority of the course but lucky for FaceTime I was able to maintain a healthy relationship with them.

“Being locked down in College had some positives, it allowed me to focus on my own performance, achieving excellence on the recruit program and also gave me an opportunity to socialise and assist my fellow recruits more than I would have if I could have gone back to Sydney more frequently.”

“My time at the college was fantastic, although we had the challenges that came with COVID, I have made some lifelong friendships.”

“My confidence has grown and I know I have made the right career choice and look forward to the opportunities the AFP has to offer.”

PSO Recruit Dellanie Bannan

PSO Recruit Dellanie Bannan is 30-years-old and moved to Canberra eight years ago to follow her husband’s dream of joining the AFP, which then become her own.

Recruit Bannan’s husband has a police-heavy family background, with his mother, aunt, and uncle being current and retired members of Victoria Police.

“I have been fortunate to be part of the police family and understand their experiences, motivations, and challenges they face in their work, as well as the rewarding nature of police work,” Recruit Bannan said.

“My motivation to join is very clear, I have experienced the family environment that the AFP has to offer and most importantly, it gives me something to contribute to at the dinner table conversation.”

Recruit Bannan explains that she hadn’t really experienced the effects of COVID-19 and its lockdowns until the start of her college experience.

“Upon starting we had two weeks quarantine prior to entering the college, I found these two weeks quite helpful as it allowed a lot of time to study and actually gave me time to retain the information.”

“The toughest challenge was living 15 minutes away from my husband and dog but being unable to see them.”

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