Browse topics that interest you

Games, set and match

AFP calls a wrap on Commonwealth Games operations

When Australia participates in major global events, the AFP is there to keep Australians safe.

Already this year, the men and women of the AFP helped protect our citizens at Anzac Day commemorations in Turkey and France, the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Korea, and on home soil in April we were proud to help deliver a successful and safe Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

Critical elements of Games security was the AFPs' presence at Gold Coast Airport, on the surrounding Gold Coast waterways and in other 'behind the scenes' operations – never straight forward tasks by any means, and even more so during times of peak, major event demand.

The indoor concourse of the airport is one long hallway, broken up by baggage carousels, shops, check-in counters and security checkpoints. The Commonwealth Games made it much busier, with athletes, officials, family, spectators and tourists transiting through the airport daily.

three police officers and a police dog pose with cartoon characters bugs bunny and tweety bird
Being part of the AFP presence at Gold Coast Airport wasn't all about pursuing criminal matters.

Being part of the AFP presence at a major airport isn't all about pursuing criminal matters. Gold Coast Airport Police Commander Sascha Rayner said a major role for the AFP at the airport is building relationships with the business and agencies that make up the airport community - and in reassuring the travelling public that the AFP wants them to enjoy their holiday or return home.

"An important part of our regular presence is to make people aware that we are here to help them if they need it, and ensure they can move through the airport safely to wherever else they are going," Superintendent Rayner said. This was particularly so during the Games.

"The increased movement of people through the airport during the Commonwealth Games meant it was all hands on deck for our Gold Coast staff. We also had extra people come in from our Brisbane office and airport to increase patrols all around the airport precinct, bolster our intelligence and support functions, and give us the ability to respond to any incidents."

The AFP works closely with partner agencies and terminal operators responsible for passenger screening as part of a multi-layered approach to security in the aviation environment. This included regular patrols conducted through the terminal by foot, and by bicycle and car around the wider precinct.

Constable Rani Davis is one of the AFP members at Gold Coast Airport primarily responsible for counter terrorism first response duties and general duties policing of the airport community. And she wasn't immune to the buzz when the Games finally came to town.

"During the Commonwealth Games period we increased our numbers due to the high volumes of people coming through the airport – that includes the competitors, voluntary staff and normal passengers," she said.

"I love my job, I love what I do. I love the people I work with. Just to be part of the Commonwealth Games and to be foot on the ground, it's fantastic, I'm very appreciative."

three police officers and one police dog walking through an airport
The increased movement of people through Gold Coast Airport during the Commonwealth Games meant it was all hands on deck for AFP Aviation members.

While Commonwealth Games competitors can look to medal tallies to gauge their success, it is much harder for the AFP.

"Success for us is prevention, awareness and deterrence, but you can't measure that like you can arrests, charges or seizures," Superintendent Rayner said.

"The continued smooth operation of the Gold Coast during the Commonwealth Games is definitely a success for the AFP, and for the work of all our members based and seconded here during this three-week period."


Preceding this year's Commonwealth Games, the men and women of the AFP had already helped protect Australian citizens at Anzac Day commemorations in Turkey and France, and the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Korea.

Outside of the airport, the AFP provided specialist resources to assist Queensland Police in protecting the community during the games.

National Coordinator Protection Assessments and Liaison Michael Jarratt oversaw the coordination of the AFP's support and liaison efforts during the Commonwealth Games.

"There is a lot of work from different areas of the AFP that goes into events such as this, with most of that effort expended in the lead-up to the games rather than during it," Superintendent Jarratt said.

"In many ways, the ultimate measure of success of our planning, coordination and activity – and that of Queensland Police and all of our partner agencies – is that the general public doesn't notice anything out of the ordinary and have a good time in a safe and secure environment."

"Special thanks needs to be extended to members of the AFP Special Events Planning Team, in particular Federal Agent Michael Hargreaves and Federal Agent Scott Gilbert from Brisbane Office, who each worked tirelessly on the planning and delivery of the AFP component of this event over several years in the lead up to the Games."

AFP Maritime members were embedded with Queensland Police to patrol waterways around the Gold Coast, particularly those hosting events or adjacent to venues.

three police officers on a boat
The AFP contributed a detachment of eight people – four boat drivers and four deck hands – to assist the Queensland Police Service with their maritime responsibilities.

Sergeant Greg Corin from the Specialist Response Group said the AFP contributed a detachment of eight people – four boat drivers and four deck hands – to assist the Queensland Police Service with their maritime responsibilities.

"We're essentially working from Coolangatta in open water areas where the beach volleyball is being held, all the way through to the northern end of the Gold Coast," he said.

"One of the events that the water police component of the Commonwealth Games overlay worked towards was the conduct of the triathlon."

two police officers on a boat with high rise buildings in the distance
Official duties saw AFP Maritime patrol from Coolangatta right through to the northern end of the Gold Coast.

Detective Leading Senior Constable Chris Markcrow noted the operating environment was familiar as AFP members built upon relationships with their Queensland colleagues developed during the Brisbane G20 summit in 2014. What wasn't so familiar was operating in salt water, which is different for crews used to operating vessels in fresh water environments in and around Canberra.

athletes on a platform ready to jump in water
AFP Maritime members were embedded with Queensland Police to patrol waterways around the Gold Coast, particularly those hosting events or adjacent to venues.

On dry land, the AFP also supplied equipment and trained operators to enhance and assist Queensland Police search capabilities during the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Part of this assistance was the AFP's Z Backscatter Vans (ZBV). The ZBV is a mobile, non-intrusive X-ray unit designed to identify large organic materials hidden within vehicles, particularly drugs and explosives.

an xray of a suitcase
The AFP's 'Z Backscatter Vans' were deployed to identify large organic materials hidden within vehicles, such as drugs and explosives.

A group of members were trained and deployed to the Gold Coast – along with regular ZBV operators – for a six-week operation as part of a multi-layered vehicle search area at the games precinct. The vans were also deployed to search duties at other locations, such as scanning buses used to transport Games athletes and their families.

Facebook videos