New anti-terrorism teams by June
New teams, more police cameras and a number to SMS the police while hiding from terrorists. These are just some of the new initiatives the police unveiled yesterday at its annual workplan seminar to fight the growing threat of terrorism.
Emergency Response Teams (ERTs)
These are the first responders to a terrorist attack.
The officers, who come from existing police divisions, are specially trained with counter-assault skills and are better equipped to deal with such attacks.
They will be introduced in June.
Armed with sub-machine guns - the HKMP5 - these ERT officers will also patrol the streets every day to ensure Singapore's security.
They will monitor possible terrorist "soft targets" such as shopping malls and stadiums.
Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam said: "They will link up with stakeholders in the areas they are deployed and are expected to become familiar with the areas they are in charge of."
Rapid Deployment Troops (RDTs)
Officers from the Special Operations Command's (SOC) RDTs will form the second wave of responders.
They will then work together with the Emergency Response Teams (ERTs) to take down the terrorists.
To help RDT officers reach their location faster, some will ride new tactical response motorcycles.
These motorbikes will allow them to move quickly through congested traffic to reach the sites.
RDT officers will also travel in new armoured tactical strike vehicles in addition to the current red ones.
The Singapore Police Force (SPF) said that by July next year, 300 officers will be added to the SOC.
Mr Shanmugam said depending on the nature and scale of the incident, the Home Team may rely on other agencies such as the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), the Ministry of Communications and Information and the Ministry of Health.
He added: "The SAF will bring its own assets and equipment to assist the SPF in counter terrorism operations as may be necessary."
71999 and i-Witness
From tomorrow, those who are hiding during terrorist attacks and hostage situations do not have to utter a single word when informing the police of their predicament.
They can send an SMS to 71999 and police operators will make use of the messages to gather information to better manage the crisis.
Besides assuring senders that help is on the way, officers can also advise them on how to protect themselves.
The Police@SG mobile app was also revamped yesterday with a new capability known as i-Witness.
Using this feature, members of the public can forward photos and videos directly to the police.
It replaces a similar function known as CrimeStopper. The police said it is more user-friendly than its predecessor.
With i-Witness, users can send files that take up to 20GB. Previously, the limit was only 2MB.
Police advise public to 'Run, Hide, Tell'
The police have developed an advisory to educate the public on what to do in a terrorist attack.
According to the advisory Run, Hide, Tell, the public should:
- Run away from the danger
- Hide by finding cover and staying out of sight from attackers and
- Tell someone about the threat while in hiding, so help can be dispatched.
They can make use of i-Witness or send an SMS to 71999 to inform the authorities.
The police will also be setting up more cameras in public places, including hawker centres and key pedestrian linkways to major MRT stations and bus interchanges.
These cameras will be rolled out in the second half of the year and will first be installed at Jurong Gateway, Bedok Town Centre and Ang Mo Kio Town Centre.
Police cameras were introduced in 2012 and can now be found at Housing Board blocks and multi-storey carparks.
All 10,000 HDB blocks and multi-storey carparks will have the cameras by this year.
However, even as we say this, we face new challenges. Top of the list of these challenges, and we have spoken about this before, is terrorism. These challenges will be with us for the next 10 to 15 years, and in fact they will become more serious in 10 to 15 years' time, but we cannot wait until then. We have to deal with those issues now, decisively and firmly."
- Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam, on the need to be vigilant, even as he commended the Singapore Police Force for doing well in keeping Singapore safe