Checks in place to stop officers from unauthorised use of firearms
Auxiliary police officers who need to draw a firearm for duty are subjected to security screening and vetting by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) before they are hired.
The police also conduct regular audits of auxiliary police forces Certis and Aetos to ensure compliance when issuing firearms, SPF said in response to queries from The Straits Times.
Questions over firearm safety and protocol surrounding auxiliary police officers emerged when an Aetos officer - Mahadi Muhamad Mukhtar, 38 - allegedly robbed a moneylending company of more than $24,000 in cash while armed with a revolver he had been issued with as part of his duty.
It was the first time in 15 years that a gun was used in an armed robbery.
In a statement after his arrest, police said that Mahadi had reported for work at the Aetos headquarters in Corporation Drive before his deployment on April 12 and drew his firearm. But he then changed out of his uniform and left the headquarters with his firearm without authorisation.
After allegedly committing the offence, Mahadi returned to the headquarters, put on his uniform and rode in the company's van to his deployment location.
Certis and Aetos told ST that they use a biometric system to verify the identity of the officer drawing firearms. Only auxiliary police officers rostered for duty are issued firearms for the period of their duty.
"If any officer fails to return any firearm or ammunition beyond a prescribed time limit of the scheduled timing, supervisors and armourers will be immediately notified," said Aetos.
The trainees must also undergo training including firearm safety and weapon handling before they are allowed to use firearms.
Firearms refresher courses and re-assessments are also regularly conducted for officers, and those who do not meet the required standards will be barred from handling firearms, said the two organisations.
Officers who are deemed unfit are also barred, to reduce the risk of unsafe use or misuse of firearms.
"This includes any officer under disciplinary investigations, any suspected as facing financial difficulties and any deemed to be unfit by a supervisor," said Aetos, which added that its auxiliary police officers carry out duties such as safeguarding key installations and border checkpoints.
The issue was raised in Parliament last week.
In response to written questions from Ms Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) and Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok), Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam said that the "risk to society from having auxiliary police officers who do not carry weapons, and who therefore can't intervene effectively when the situation requires, is greater".
He noted that the record shows the misuse of weapons by police officers and auxiliary police officers is "very low".
Mr Shanmugam also addressed the use of foreign national auxiliary police officers. He said that the ministry's ability to know their security background will be less compared with local officers.
"There is naturally a risk in having foreign auxiliary police officers and arming them. But we don't have enough local auxiliary police officers...
"Again, the risks from not deploying enough auxiliary police officers are greater than the risks from having foreign auxiliary police officers and arming them," he said.