Cops refine response to terrorist attacks
More 'beige berets' deployed, equipment and training enhanced: Shanmugam
The police will continue to enhance their capabilities to fight terrorism and crime.
Underlining the need to keep the country and people safe, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam announced measures yesterday to make the Singapore Police Force (SPF) more efficient and adept in responding to terror attacks and controlling crime.
Opening this year's Police Workplan Seminar, he said that events in other countries keep reminding us not to let our guard down.
Citing the mass shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, last month, Mr Shanmugam spoke of the need for a robust counter-terrorism capability.
"If it can happen in New Zealand, it can happen anywhere in the world. One of the last places you would expect a terror attack in is New Zealand," he said, to show how terror attacks can happen any time and anywhere."
To prepare for any eventuality, the police have been sharpening their response, he added.
More In-Situ Reaction Team officers, who stand out with their beige berets, will be deployed at locations with large crowds.
This will reduce response time for the police "as the first few minutes of an attack are critical", Mr Shanmugam said.
Equipment and training for counter-terrorism forces will also be enhanced.
Frontline officers are now equipped with pistols instead of revolvers, and Emergency Response Teams have new vehicles with more space for operational equipment.
" The tempo and pace of exercises have also been stepped up and that includes operational readiness," he added.
On the SPF's continuous process of redeveloping their capabilities to combat terrorism, he said: "I don't think this is one where you would say that we have reached the ultimate levels.
"Everyone around the world is learning. We are learning and learning from them as well."
While crime here is under control, Mr Shanmugam cited the surge in violent knife crimes in Britain to show how things can change quickly.
"It would not have occurred to me to think of London in those terms," he said, noting that fatal stabbings in England and Wales between March 2017 and 2018 had hit a 70-year high.
"That has obviously led to more calls for more funding, more officers, stronger police powers. So you are on the treadmill all the time - every police force in the world faces this challenge," he added.
Britain's Sky News reported last month there had been about 20 murders in London so far this year, with six of them happening in the span of nine days.
Mr Shanmugam said: "So there has got to be, and there will be, a commitment to continue to resource the police, and keep our laws updated and fit for purpose."
Yesterday's seminar at the Singapore University of Technology and Design showcased a gamut of new technologies to be employed by the police.
One of them was a new unmanned aerial vehicle response force, which Mr Shanmugam helped to launch yesterday.
This was one example of how investments in technology have improved productivity and the effectiveness of police officers here, he said.
Other technologies include a screening platform called Jarvis, which allows investigation officers to search multiple SPF databases with a single query, cutting the process time from 20 minutes to just five, and smart glasses that have facial-recognition technology that can scan individuals using the police database.
Mr Shanmugam also said 10,000 police cameras have been installed under the PolCam 2.0 programme, which was introduced in mid-2016. This brings the total number of fully operational police cameras deployed in public areas to nearly 80,000.
Mr Shanmugam said: "We are not yet done. We will continue."
He also said the police would press ahead with the use of video analytics, allowing officers to detect threats earlier and intervene faster.
On privacy concerns, Mr Shanmugam said: "Residents, do they respond by saying that my privacy is being violated? In Singapore, they respond by telling us that it gives them an added measure of security."