ACT Policing is telling Canberrans not to worry despite more heavily armed Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers soon patrolling Canberra Airport.
AFP protection officers will now be armed with short-barrelled rifles at Canberra Airport as part of a $107 million roll-out of the new measures across the country over the next 18 months, but the public is being told that this is not in relation to an increased threat level and will not impact travel times.
The Government says Canberra or Brisbane will see these new officers patrolling before Christmas. Over the next six months officers armed with the new capability will be present in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and the Gold Coast, followed by, Cairns, Adelaide and Darwin Airports in 2021.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the counter-terrorism boost would include 135 additional police and protective service officers, as well as firearm and explosive detection canine handlers.
The rifles will allow officers to respond to incidents more accurately and from a greater distance.
AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw says the rollout will make sure that Australia has world’s best practice for responding to terrorist incidents.
“Members of the public should be aware while there will be no changes to the way they move through Australian airports, they will start seeing Protection Operation Response Team officers patrolling alongside general duties members,” he said.
“The roll-out comes as part of a Government-funded program to bolster response capability and protect the travelling public in busy environments.
“This is an additional capacity which will provide greater support for officers responding to high-risk incidents and ensure continuing safety for the travelling public.”
The Aviation Security Enhancement Program (ASEP) is being rolled out across nine Australian airports to better equip officers when responding to threats and explosive risks immediately.
Teams will perform a dedicated first responder role for terrorist incidents, while airport officers will be wearing body cameras to capture how they respond to critical incidents, and will also aim to deter illegal activity.
The ASEP was designed in 2017 after police foiled an attempt to smuggle an explosive device on an airplane, with the Federal Government providing $107 million over four years to increase aviation security.