By Nick Taylor, NEWS.com.au
THE crack police Tactical Response Group has been hit by the sudden
resignation of officers to work in Iraq.
The officers were recruited on lucrative security contracts in the
The losses have made a severe dent in the highly trained unit of
about 40 officers.
Three resigned last Friday, another five are about to hand in their
papers, and it is understood others are discussing their options with
Officers from the state protection unit are also said to be
considering 12-month contracts worth up to $300,000.
It is also understood that several soldiers from the Perth-based
Special Air Service regiment have left or are set to resign to take
up similar deals.
The officers will be involved in the dangerous work of protecting
business premises as Iraq struggles to rebuild its economy.
They will also act as bodyguards for wealthy businessmen.
Most of the recruiting has been carried out "word-of-mouth" among the
tight-knit security world but a UK-based agency, working for a US
consortium, is behind the campaign.
A Police Service spokesman refused to confirm the number of
resignations but claimed it would not affect the TRG's operational
"We have a reserve list of officers that can step in," he said.
"This sort of thing happens. People move on from these areas. They
only have a certain life span and there is a natural turnover."
His main concern was not that the officers were leaving.
"I am concerned about their safety in the job they're going into," he said.
He said that the WA service specialist units were not the only
specialist officers that had been targeted.
Similar units in other states had also been hit by resignations.
"Anyone who is in these areas is being approached," he said.
"They are all likely candidates."
But Police Union president Mike Dean said the development had the
potential to reduce the TRG's capability.
"While they are bringing in reserves, the officers who are leaving
are extremely skilled, with unique training," he said.
"It disturbs me that the police service is not actively negotiating
to keep these people on board.
"I think it goes beyond money with some of them. There is a history
of lack of recognition and respect in some of these areas.
"It is an early warning or wake-up call for the Police Service and I
suggest they sit up and take notice of it."
A Defence spokesman said he could not comment on the resignations.
"There is no obligation on their part to tell us what they are doing
after leaving," he said.
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"Even if they did we could not release details because of privacy and