IT IS astounding that Gary Baki has hired Lawrence Aviation and Security Group (LASG) - a private, United States-based provider of security services - to train the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) on how to provide adequate security for next year’s APEC forum in Port Moresby.
Literally every state in Australia, plus the AFP, have Special Tasks and Resources Squads or their equivalent who could do this at least as competently and probably at a lower cost.
Indeed, Australia is contributing about $100 million in cash and kind for APEC, which includes security and 73 Australian Federal Police officers will remain in PNG until after APEC in November 2018.
Baki could also have contacted Britain's Metropolitan Police, which has huge resources and much direct experience in counter terrorism, crowd control, VIP security and so on.
Basically, a decision to hire any private firm to provide this training raises many questions about the process involved and the judgement of those instrumental in making the decision.
What is even more amazing is that PNG currently lacks a high skill, rapid response capacity. What on earth have the RPNGC been doing for the last 40 years?
It seems that Commissioner Baki chose the Lawrence Aviation and Security Group because its principal grew up in PNG and so knew something about PNG. It is doubtful, however, that any of the group's employees have similar knowledge.
On the upside, the contractors evidently have already identified serious and obvious deficiencies in the RPNGC that need correction.
The problem is that such deficiencies reflect an entrenched culture of poor training, incompetence, bad tactical judgement and heavy handedness.
I would therefore be surprised if the 140 days of training apparently being allocated is going to be remotely close to enough to produce an efficient, well-resourced and well led rapid response and anti-terrorism capacity in the RPNGC.
Whatever the outcome of all this, it is painfully apparent that the decision to hire Lawrence Aviation and Security, even if soundly based, has the appearance of being an example of patronage and failure to follow due process, combined with a significant lack of insight.
In this context I have been unable to find any information (beyond marketing blurb) as to the background, experience and bona fides of the contractors. This material may exist, but it does not appear to be in the public domain.
Even being charitable, this remarkable decision suggests that the RPNGC leadership still don't get how to be a properly organised and functioning police force.