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By Jessica Cuthbert 

It’s challenging, gruelling, high paced and intense. 
 
However for a group of police officers who recently went through their training, it’s all worth it if it means becoming a tactical operator.
 
The selection course for the Tactical Response Group (TRG) pushes applicants to their full capability.
 
Familiar with the challenging training is First Class Constable Mick Wood,* who despite previous rejections is giving the selection course a third attempt. 
 
Having experienced the durable weeks of physical and mental training before, Mick is determined to fight for his position in the unit. 
 
Police News caught up with Mick in October at the halfway mark of the 10-week Core Tactics Course.
 
Having served on the WA Police Force for eight years, Mick has longed to be a tactical operator since he first donned the blues.  
 
“I’ve applied for TRG before and this is my third time going through the training,” he told Police News.
 
“I have always had that initial drive to join TRG since I first joined the job, this was always the goal. In my opinion it is one of the highest trained areas in the WA Police, these guys work together all the time and have that amazing team environment and work ethic.
 
“What is also appealing is the different challenges that this job will bring, I have always liked to get involved wherever I can and in high risk and high pace situations.” 
 
Coming into his third attempt of the selection process, Mick knew what was involved and what to expect. 
 
That however, doesn’t make the process any easier. 
 
“It’s very tough and gruelling at times but it is very rewarding getting through each training stages, it is high pace and intense but it’s worth it if it means I get through,” he said. 
 
“If I get through at the end of these 10 weeks – it will be fantastic, very satisfying. After doing the training and putting in my best effort, to get to the end and to be able to join these guys would just be fantastic.”
 
The highly sought after section of the WA Police Force sees anywhere from 50 to 100 applicants each time it is advertised and is held usually every 12 to 18 months.
 
The course puts officers through their paces, testing their endurance and pushing them to their limits to see if they have what it takes to gain a spot in the popular unit. 
 
Senior Tactical Operator Liam Jones* who has been involved in coordinating the last two selection courses said the selection process was one of the hardest and most challenging in the WA Police Force.
 
Some of the situations TRG face include dealing with armed offenders, attending sieges, protecting endangered witnesses and undercover operatives, securing and escorting dangerous prisoners, marine operations and the State's counter-terrorist responsibility. 
 
Specialist positions include snipers, explosive breachers, tactical swimmers, tactical ropers, tactical coxswains, medics and advanced drivers. 
 
These serving WA police officers cover the whole State and conduct operations on land and at sea.
 
A TRG position is a tenure lifted position, therefore there are no restrictions if you are in district tenure, in a country posting or on probation.
 
However if applicants are on probation they will need to complete their probation requirements before joining TRG. 
 
Liam said the unit also works closely with sections of the Australian Defence Force.
 
One example was Echo 74, an operation in conjunction with Border Force where officers intercepted a vessel suspected of drug smuggling 251km off the coast off the coast of Geraldton in 2016.
 
A large amount of methamphetamine was recovered and 12 people were arrested and charged.
 
 The selection process to become a tactical operator starts with a written expression of interest and from there hopeful applicants will undertake a medical clearance and physiological testing.
 
The next phase is a one day physical testing, which involves a pack march, PPE testing and a swim component. 
 
Successful applicants will then undertake the selection course which is the most physically demanding phase of the selection process.
 
Liam said it was here that applicants are subjected to various activities that will take them to a level of physical and mental exhaustion that they are unlikely to have experienced before. 
 
 “The selection phase is challenging but very achievable. Being able to think clearly and make the right decisions under pressure is what we are looking for and arriving to our selection course physically prepared is just one piece of the puzzle,” he said.
 
“Applicants who can think outside the box and come up with solutions and be trainable are desired traits."
 
The final phase is the Core Tactics Course where applicants are taught the basic skills to be a tactical operator, including handling weapons and room clearance drills. 
 
Current TRG members are observing and documenting each applicant’s process as they are tested in a wide variety of areas, which are all job specific.
 
Also striving to join the TRG, Constable Jake Smith* is another applicant pushing himself through the training to achieve his career goal.
 
It is Jake’s first time applying for TRG and if not successful this round, it won’t be his last. 
 
With the finish line in sight, he is excited to find out if he has done enough to make the cut. 
 
Describing the course as challenging, high paced but a great experience, Jake told Police News he would not let a rejection stop him from earning his position on the TRG. 
 
“The experience has been really good, it is challenging but I suppose you have to take a step back and remember this is what you want to do, where you want to be. This is the end goal for me,” Jake said. 
 
“It’s a select group to be a part of, it’s high paced and intense so this type of policing suits me. If I am not successful I will apply again and again, it’s what I want so I’ll work hard to get there.” 
 
Determination and diligence are qualities Jake and Mick share with fellow applicants in this year’s selection course.
 
Whilst the selection process may be challenging, Liam said the TRG unit is a highly popular one. 
 
“The nature of work we undertake is very challenging and rewarding and the work is dynamic, unpredictable and ever changing,” he said.
 
 “We are a very close knit section and are provided opportunities to partake in some great state, national and international courses.” 
 
Whilst the section entails rewarding jobs like rescues and large scale drug seizures, it also confronts challenges including the biggest threat, terrorism. 
 
 “The most dangerous situation TRG face is terrorism. As we know, there is no place in the world that is immune to it and that’s why we are constantly training and evolving our tactics to combat a wide variety of different threats we are faced with,” Liam said.
 
 
*Jake Smith, Mick Wood and Liam Jones’s names have been changed at the Members’ request. 
 
 
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