History of the FBI Asia Pacific Chapter
In 1984 the concept to establish a second International Chapter of the FBI National Academy Associates was floated by several graduates including Australia’s Detective Chief Superintendent Malcolm Evans (Session 111) and our inaugural Chapter President, Deputy Director General Vasit Dejkunjorn (Session 75) of the Royal Thai Police. It took a further two years before the first Asia Pacific Chapter conference would be hosted in the Grand Palace Hotel, Pattaya, Thailand between the 22nd and 24th January 1986.
The conference was coordinated by Colonel Thasanai Prajanuraks ( Session 102). There were 86 attendees overall from 11 nations. The FBINA Association President Richard Amiott attended as did FBI Director Judge William H Webster and Associate Dep Dir FBI Oliver “Buck” Revell.
The practice of selecting the Chapter President from the graduates of the country hosting the retraining conference is still maintained today. This ensures that the Chapter President has significant ‘buy in’ during the planning and execution of the activities associated with a retraining conference.
During the development of the Asia Pacific Charter, it was decided that a retraining conference would only be held every second year. The Chapter worked hard to ensure that dedicated graduates from many of the Asian countries within our Chapter, supported the retraining program. As such over the next decade retraining conferences were held in Singapore 1988; Thailand 1990; West Australia 1992; Japan 1994 and Queensland, Australia 1996. The 1998 retraining conference was bound for Indonesia, however the Asian Financial crisis had a huge impact on Indonesia. In 1998 after 30 years in power, Indonesian President Suharto was forced to step down on 21 May 1998 in the wake of widespread rioting. Significant price increases caused by a drastic devaluation of the rupiah further exacibated the Indonesian economy. No Chapter retraining conference took place in 1998 and the momentum of a thriving chapter was significantly impacted. The host of the 1996 conference and proud graduate of Session 157, Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson, called together the Queensland Police graduates and floated the idea to host another Chapter Conference on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. Commissioner Atkinson could see the importance of international law enforcement networks, particularly in our Asian Region. He was motivated to re invigorate the Chapter. In 2003 the FBINAA graduates of the Queensland Police Service hosted what would be the largest law enforcement conference to be held in Australia. The conference was open to all FBINAA members, graduates and Australian law enforcement. It was such a resounding success there was not one volunteer country willing to host the next conference scheduled for 2005.
Fortunately, in 2005 the Asia Pacific Chapter’s President and Secretary were invited to the Chapter Officers meeting at Quantico. This is the first time this meeting was funded to host other International Chapters. FBINAA President Mark Willingham welcomed Inspectors Mike Sparke and Des Lacy to the meeting. At that meeting there was no plan to host a 2005 retraining conference for the Asia Pacific Chapter. The enthusiasm of Mr Willingham was passed on to Des Lacy who that year became the Secretary of the Asia Pacific Chapter. A position he holds to this day. With the help once again of Commissioner Atkinson a conference was held in Australia. It was a very small conference with 66 graduates in attendance. With the assistance of the master negotiator, Tom Colombell (former Executive Director for the FBINAA) this conference set the enthusiasm for annual retrainers across the length and breadth of the Asia Pacific Chapter. Since 2005 the Asia Pacific Chapter has hosted successful conferences every year until COVID caused the cancellation of the 2020 retraining conference planned for Malaysia. This conference was rescheduled to June 2023.
The forced COVID break of three years did not reduced the enthusiasm of our Chapter’s members. The Chapter remains strong and will continue to host annual retrainers post the COVID pandemic. The success of our journey to host meaningful educational networking programs for our members in the Asia Pacific Chapter is attributed to our partners, the FBI, the US Department of Defence – Pacific Command and the FBINAA. We have also established a strong sponsorship group who continually support our Chapter.
Des Lacy OAM
FBI National Academy Associates