If terrorists strike, these elite cops will ride into battle
Rapid Deployment Troops trained to counter terror attacks from a motorcycle
In an emergency, these elite police officers will not hesitate to ride up staircases on their motorcycles to save time.
The Rapid Deployment Troops (RDT), from the Special Operations Command, form a mobile anti-terror unit which turned operational in July last year. RDT acts as a "second wave" to support land division first responders during a riot or terror incident.
Last month, The Straits Times joined officers on patrol and took part in a training drill at the Home Team Tactical Centre in Mandai Quarry Road.
The unit shot to prominence when photographs of RDT officers at an Orchard Road traffic junction were circulated in WhatsApp chat groups last year. Until then, little was known of the unit except for a speech last April at the police workplan seminar, when Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said more specialist police officers would be trained to counter terror attacks.
"They have motorbikes, and they are expected to be in place faster," he had said.
"They are trained in tactical manoeuvres to negotiate heavy traffic to reach any incident site. That will add to the police's capability to respond swiftly."
The 15kg of gear carried by each officer includes an FN assault rifle, a Heckler & Koch USP 9mm calibre pistol, a bullet-proof vest, extra ammunition, a communications set, a ballistic helmet and a motorcycle helmet.
Two officers ride on an 800cc dual-purpose motorcycle. It is equipped with blinking lights, sirens, crash bars and a special latch to carry two riot shields.
The added weight alters a motorbike's handling traits, which is why RDT officers have to maintain a higher level of riding proficiency.
Each officer goes through riding courses before being allowed on patrols. Their riding assessments include executing high-speed collision avoidance drills, turning in tight spaces and negotiating obstacles found in urban landscapes, such as kerbs.
During a mock activation, RDT officers took under four minutes to be fully geared and armed. They then rode off to confront a "terror incident".
Officers must also shoot accurately from a moving motorcycle.
One exercise, which required riding a motorcycle up a flight of stairs, appeared easy when viewed from the sidelines.
As this reporter negotiated the first of 10 sharp-edged steps, it took some effort to maintain a constant throttle hand, let alone balance. Now, imagine doing that with an extra load and a pillion rider.
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