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Celebrating AFP's 35 years of mateship in the USA

The ties between Australia and the USA have never been stronger and the AFP is proud of the part it continues to play, said Commissioner Andrew Colvin at a Mateship Event to mark 35 years of the AFP's ongoing presence in the United States.

Attended by Australia's Ambassador, the Hon Joe Hockey, at the Embassy of Australia in Washington DC, the Commissioner was joined by 150 partners from United States and international policing and law enforcement agencies, including FBI Director, Christopher Wray, U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Keith Smith, and FBI Deputy Director, David Bowdich.

A man standing at a lecturn speaking to a large crowd
Australian Ambassador to the USA, the Hon Joe Hockey, welcomes guests at the celebration of the AFP's 35 year presence in the United States.

In his welcome address, Ambassador Hockey said in 2018 Australia and the United States marked a centenary of mateship – a friendship first formed in the trenches during World War 1 during the Battle of Hamel on 4 July 1918.

The retaking of Hamel was the first time Australian and American troops had fought side by side in an offensive action.

Ambassador Hockey said the Battle of Hamel was the symbolic foundation of the deep and enduring bond, mutual respect and close cooperation that continues to exist between Australia and the United States.

One hundred years later, Australia remains a steadfast and reliable partner to the United States and our 75 years of intelligence sharing has helped make both countries more secure.

Ambassador Hockey said the AFP's work offshore was pivotal to Australia's homeland security and this was only possible through the AFP's strong international liaison network.

A group of people posing for photo together
AFP staff in the United States enjoy the event to mark 35 years of the AFP in the USA.

Commissioner Colvin said the 100 years of mateship between the two close allies wasn't the only reason to celebrate during his visit to Washington.

"We are also celebrating 100 years of Australian Commonwealth Policing, International Women's Day and the AFP's 35 year presence in the United States."

The Commissioner referred to the events on 13 February 1978, 40 years ago, when a bomb was detonated outside Sydney's Hilton Hotel, which was hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. Three innocent lives were lost that day and it led to the formation of the modern Australian Federal Police.

Commissioner Colvin said in 1982, just three years after the creation of the AFP, a post was opened in Los Angeles, led by then Detective Superintendent Peter Lamb.

The following year, the AFP opened the Washington Liaison Office, led by then Detective Superintendent Alan Mills.

The USA was amongst the first posts to be created. The AFP is now represented in 36 countries working with local authorities to tackle growing transnational and organised crime.

Over the life of the AFP's Liaison Officer postings to the USA it has afforded the AFP three Deputy Commissioners, five heads of Commonwealth Departments and one Deputy Head, as well as seven Assistant Commissioners.

The Commissioner spoke of the important transformation process currently underway across the AFP and that transformation was about the people who work in the AFP.

"My inherent belief is that the more supported our people are, the better they will be able to do their job to make Australia safer."

Commissioner Colvin used the event to announce that the AFP in Washington would host its second annual Global Mental Health Symposium in May, with participants expected from the USA, Canada, Australia, UK, France, Hong Kong and South America with the aim to share information and ideas to develop a best practice program of mental health support for all policing organisations.

Two men shaking hands
During a visit to the US Coast Guard (left to right) Commander Grant Edwards met with Coast Guard Director Michael Berkow and Admiral Charles Michel.

To close the formalities, the official Mateship song, 100 Year Handshake by Australian award-winning country artist, Amber Lawrence was played. Lawrence has performed the song for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and President Donald Trump at the 75th anniversary Battle of the Coral Sea Gala in New York and at the US National Governors' Meeting in Washington DC earlier this year.

All proceeds raised from downloads of the song are going to AFP Legacy.

While in Washington, the Commissioner also held high-level talks about the threats of transnational crime impacting both the United States and Australia, as well as policing best practices.

The meetings included the Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary of Intelligence David Glawe, Washington DC Metro PD Chief Peter Newsham, Acting Administrator of the DEA Robert Patterson, Acting Director Russ Travers of the National Counter Terrorism Centre, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Counternarcotics and Global Threats Thomas Alexander, and US Coast Guard Vice Commandant, RADM Charles Michel.

Two men shaking hands
Commissioner Colvin following talks with Acting Administrator of the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

Commissioner Colvin also recognised the service of a great friend of the AFP, Acting Deputy Director Peter Edge, of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This was the first time Commissioner Colvin has awarded the AFP Commissioner's Medal of Excellence to a foreign law enforcement partner.

Two men shaking hands, with one holding a medal
Commissioner Colvin presents the AFP Commissioner's Medal of Excellence to Acting Deputy Director of United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Peter Edge.