Monday, 18 March 2024 - 10:03am

Scenario Village up and running

4 min read

News article photos (11 items)

The Scenario Village plaque is unveiled by Police Minister Mark Mitchell and Commissioner Andrew Coster.
Superintendent Kelly Ryan and Minister Mitchell cutting the ribbon to open the brand-new training facility.
RNZPC Kaumātua Tama Coker started the opening ceremony with a karakia. Ngāti Toa Rangatira have supported the cultural aspects o
Assistant Commissioner Mike Johnson making a speech.
Commissioner Andrew Coster...
and Police Minister Mark Mitchell.
A group photo of representatives from Property Group and the main contractors.
The two-storey house at the Scenario Village.
The single-level house.
The set of three townhouses.

The doors have opened on a training facility designed and developed by the frontline for the frontline.

On Friday 8 March, the Scenario Village residential building project reached its end with a ribbon cut and a plaque unveiled, officially opening the three buildings and surrounding streetscape that simulate a neighbourhood with a range of home environments.

Comprising a single-storey state house, a large two-storey house and three townhouses, there’s everything you would expect in typical homes that our frontline staff would go into every day, as well as some extras for the training environment.

Commissioner Andrew Coster gathered at the Royal New Zealand Police College with Police Minister Mark Mitchell, Porirua Mayor Anita Baker, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, representatives from the main contractors and Police staff to mark the occasion and have a good look through the facilities.

They saw houses that are fully furnished and staged as if they are lived in, with some features beyond the norm to ensure they can withstand robust training exercises for years to come.

Instead of GIB board on the walls, there is painted plywood. Some of the windows and doors are tougher than usual so they can be regularly breached in training scenarios.

An example of staging inside the Scenario Village buildings, using furniture and household items donated by staff. A breachable window is at back centre of the photo. 
An example of staging inside the Scenario Village buildings, using furniture and household items donated by staff. A breachable window is seen at the back centre of the photo.

It’s impressive, says Senior Sergeant Wade Fale, Wellington District AOS Tactical Operations Coordinator for Tactical Response Model (TRM) and AOS Team Leader.

“You have to really see it to appreciate the Scenario Village.

“The thought and attention to detail that has gone into it means we have something realistic and practical to ensure our frontline and specialist squads can train as they operate now and for years to come.

“I'm particularly impressed by the breachable windows and doors – a first for us.”

As a training facility, it’s right on the mark and reflects what frontline staff wanted, says Senior Sergeant Jason Butcher, lead in Frontline Safety Enhancement in Districts (FSED) for the Frontline Safety Improvement Programme (FSIP), and an AOS Team Leader.

“It’s so good to have this investment in training, but also to have trusted Police’s operational staff to help to design what they thought they needed rather than to tell them.

“This not only means we get a fit-for-purpose training environment, but our frontline can feel they have been listened to and valued.” 

Senior Sergeant Jason Butcher shows Minister of Police Mark Mitchell a breachable window, while Commissioner Andrew Coster and Superintendent Kelly Ryan watch. 
Senior Sergeant Jason Butcher shows Minister of Police Mark Mitchell a breachable window, while Commissioner Andrew Coster and Superintendent Kelly Ryan look on.

The Scenario Village has been a key deliverable of the Frontline Safety Improvement Programme, which has training at its foundation.

Wellington District’s FSED programme is the first to use the Scenario Village, but the focus will be on running national training at the facility through the Frontline Skills Enhancement Course (FSEC).

FSEC has a tactical and operational focus, with a heavy emphasis on practical scenario-based learning.

The facility will be used to train for effectively responding to active shooter events, hostage situations, family harm, mental health and other scenarios as well as room clearances and rescue tactics.

“Our officers work in a very fast-moving and challenging environment, and it’s our responsibility to ensure that they are safe and feel safe as they go about their work,” said Commissioner Coster at the opening ceremony.

“This means they need the right tools, training and support to carry out their duties effectively and safely... as they undertake day-to-day policing challenges right across the country.”

Minister Mitchell agreed, saying it is critically important frontline staff have access to a facility like the Scenario Village, where they have to make quick decisions under pressure as that is the nature of their work.

“Having a facility like this where they can actually go through those real-life experiences will put them in a much better position to not only keep themselves and their colleagues safe but the public safe as well.”

From turning the turf in November 2022 to the opening one year and four months later, a huge amount of effort has gone in from many people, says Superintendent Kelly Ryan, Director Frontline Safety Improvement Programme.

“Put simply it’s a game-changer for training,” she says.

“It demonstrates the organisation is prioritising realistic, fit-for-purpose, tactical training which we know is a priority for our frontline now and in the future.

“I would like to give a big shout out to our operational staff in particular, who gave their time, effort and expertise in the design and development of the Scenario Village, our FSIP team including Property Group who have worked tirelessly with contractors and companies to build it, and Assistant Commissioner Tusha Penny whose vision and motivation to build this is finally realised.”

The RNZPC Scenario Village sign and plaque.

The Scenario Village was funded as part of the previous government’s investment in the Tactical Response Model, with funding specifically ringfenced for its development. Under the Tactical Response Model, tactical training for frontline staff has more than doubled, focused on appropriate decision-making under cognitive load and proportional tactical responses, including de-escalation and tactical communication.