Saturday, May 18, 2013

Singapore Police Force: Part 2

If you liked my previous Singapore Police Force: Part 1 post about our visit and some hands-on at TRACOM and Central Police Division,
you're going to LOVE this one!

As part of the customised programme mentioned in the previous post,
after getting a realistic picture of their basic residential training and the usual policing work,
Yina, Beatrice and I got to experience the nature and type of policing work carried out by Special Operations Command (SOC) officers, which are less visible to the Public!
So keep your eyes peeled throughout the entire post, these are definitely some cool, exciting and very exclusive things normal people like you and I don't always get to see! :D

We had a brief presentation of the SOC Overview where we were introduced to SOC's units,
and I was extremely thrilled to start on the activities! :D

The Special Operations Command (SOC) comprises the following elite tactical units (which you will get to read more about them later in the post):
• Police Tactical Unit (PTU) 
• Special Tactics and Rescue (STAR) Unit 
• Police K-9 Unit 
• United Nations Peacekeeping Force (UNPKF) 
• Crisis Negotiation Unit (CNU) 
• Special Women Task Team (SWTT) 

The vision of SOC is to be "A Centre for Tactical Excellence" and its mission is “to provide the highest level of tactical options to Prevent, Deter and Detect Crime.”
SOC is the strategic reserve of the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and is primarily responsible for police tactical operations, maintenance of public order and security, weapon doctrines and other related matters.

First, we went to the SOC Learning Centre for a briefing about SOC history and to learn about their current capability!

Some of the uniforms of the various tactical units of SOC!
These are mannequins by the way!
I think my favourite uniforms are the Police K-9 Unit uniform and the STAR Unit uniform (2nd from right)! :D

Us with the mannequins!

And then there were real Police officers present to showcase the different uniforms as well!
They looked so macho and dauntless, super cool!
I wish I had that kind of awe-inspiring aura that they have too! :D

The helmet, gun and bullet-resistant vest are the heaviest, but also some of the most crucial items!

We were also introduced to the old "broadcasting" system before the days of loudspeakers, where the Police use these boards to ask people to disperse from a riot
and also coloured lights and numbers to communicate with their own members with regards to which formation to get into etc!

Us listening intently~

Can you tell which are the mannequins and which are the real police officers? :D

Crisis Negotiation Unit (CNU) 
The CNU maintains an immediate operational response capability to conduct and manage on-scene negotiations in a crisis situation.
Its mission is to defuse potentially life-threatening situations such as suicide intervention, barricaded subject situations and lately civil disobedience through the use of proven verbal crisis management techniques. 

Then we went over to the Drill Shed for the Dog Demonstration  with the Police K-9 Unit!

I'm sure we've all heard of the term "police dogs" and we always have this mental image of them being extremely cruel, ferocious and ready to tear anyone apart on sight,
but after this visit, a lot of the previous stereotypes I had about Police K-9 units were totally erased!

Police K-9 Unit 
The Police K-9 Unit has dogs trained specifically for explosive detection, narcotic detection, security duties and anti-crime operations.
Its dogs are also deployed to support the Police Tactical Unit (PTU) in public order operations and to complement frontline operations on crime scene pursue, criminal violence, border security, explosives and drug detection. 

The unit also supports the Central Narcotics Bureau, Customs and Prisons Departments in their 
operations at checkpoints, ferry terminals, airport and penal institutions in supporting and achieving 
their missions. 

Frisky and her handler! :)
In the Police K-9 Unit, each dog is assigned to handler who will train, bathe for, care for and work with their dog.
And when the dog reaches a certain age for retirement (they do NOT work till they die, not to worry!), the handler can choose to adopt his/her dog home! :D

We did 2 tests to see Frisky show off what she can do!
First, there were boxes placed randomly on the floor stuffed with newspapers and such.
Frisky's handler told her to start her search and after a few rounds of checking and double-checking,
she found nothing suspicious, so she went back to her handler.

And you can definitely see that Frisky thoroughly enjoyed her work because she couldn't wait to get started haha!
We were told that just like how we have job interviews, dogs need to go through a selection process where they pick the dogs with more search and play drive etc!
So if you're a dog lover, you'll definitely love this job to death because the dogs at the K-9 Unit have some of the most active and adorable personalities I've ever come across!!

Hiding some suspicious contraband item inside one of the box chosen at random, and taping the box back to how it was before.

Even if you hid the contraband items deep underground, Frisky will not be fooled!
She immediately sniffed out the problematic box and stood there until her handler takes action,

There are the different categories of K-9 dogs:

• Narcotic Detector Dogs (NDD) 
These canine sniffers are trained to detect narcotic substances. They are deployed at all 
entry points to interdict smuggling of controlled drugs into Singapore, assist in searching for contraband items and illegal immigrants concealed in vehicles, vessels or cargos,
and screen in-coming mail and parcels for narcotics at the main postal centre.

• Police General Purpose Dogs (GPD) 
The GPD are trained to sniff and detect human beings hiding in buildings, vehicles and 
forested areas. They assist the Police Land Divisions in crowd control, anti-crime patrols 
and the tracking down of potential criminals 

• Security Dogs (SD) 
The Security Dogs are trained in the basic obedience, crowd control and ‘attack’ work. 
They are deployed for security and escort duties at Penal Institutions and Drug 
Rehabilitation Centres with the Singapore Prisons Department. 

• Explosive Detector Dogs (EDD) 
EDDs are trained to detect hidden explosives and are deployed with the Public Transport 
Security Command for MRT patrols and at all checkpoints to look out for suspicious 
parcels and vehicles. 

Us being introduced to the different police dogs!
The K-9 Unit trains several different breeds of dogs and some of them look totally cute and harmless,
but don't let those cute and innocent looks fool you - these are some of the smartest and most capable dogs ever!

Super friendly and cute Golden Retriever (whose name I forgot.. sorry~~)!

We had a lot of fun playing with the dogs from the Police K-9 Unit
and it's really heartwarming to hear what the handlers had to share as well!
These dogs are like their good friends and trusty work partners,
and most of the handlers love animals (most of them like dogs in particular)! :)

Look at Hardy's confused expression!! Hahaha so cute!
*same hand/paw size*
 "Are we the same breed?" :p

It'll be a dream to have a dog as obedient and well-trained as these! :D
I never had a pet dog before so I'm not really good with dogs, so before we left, I thanked Hardy for being so good and nice to let me play with him haha!!

Us with a few of police officers and the dogs from the amazing Police K-9 Unit! :)

Next up, we walked over to the Parade Square for the Water Cannon Ride!
If I didn't remember wrongly, this vehicle is a modified version of a fire engine (notice the smooth edges) such that in the case of a riot, rioters cannot climb or hang onto the vehicle etc!
This vehicle is needed to put out fires that break out during chaos or riots and it can also be used to disperse the fights, riots, demonstrations and the likes.

We each got a turn to sit inside the vehicle and also try firing at targets (empty oil barrels) with the water cannon!

The top sprinklers are in case the top of the vehicle is on fire~

See the two empty oil barrels stacked together on the right?
That was our target to hit!
It was definitely a lot harder to knock the target down than we thought it'd be!
Beatrice and I took a few tries but Yina got it at the 4th try :O
She's a natural pro shooter!

Testing out different angles and different pressures of firing the water.
Usually for crowd dispersal at riots or demonstrations, the police can use the high angle and very low pressure water to scare the crowd away without hurting them :)

Us with the instructors who guided us for the Water Canon Ride!

Plus the Commander of SOC who holds the rank of Assistant Commissioner!

And then the programme organizers saved the best for the last.......
We got to take a peek into even more esoteric elements of policing!

It was time for the AST (Anti-Swarming Team) Exercise and we got to pretend to be a hostage and also a member of AST! :D

Police Tactical Unit (PTU) 
The Police Tactical Unit is one of the elite tactical units of the SOC.
It was first commissioned in 1953 as the Reserve Unit after the Maria Hertogh riot.
From 1955 to 1966, it handled some of the worst riots in Singapore.
From the 1970s, it began to take on other non-public order roles and became an effective ground response force to serious incidents such as major disasters and firearm situations.

In 1980, the Reserve Unit was renamed the Police Task Force (PTF).
Subsequently as a result of the September 11 incident in 2001, the PTT upgraded its operational capabilities as well as equipment, tactics, weapons and vehicles and restructured itself to be more prepared to deal with the new security threats from terrorists.
It was also renamed as the Police Tactical Unit (PTU).

Us getting briefed about what we're about to do and the safety precautions :)

Putting on our mask, gloves and bullet-resistant vest without the plate, and it already weighs quite a bit!

I could barely contain my excitement!!! :D

First we were to pretend to be hostages as the AST enters the room, fires at the paper targets and rescues us out of the room!

Yina being surrounded by two armed bad guys!

Me and Beatrice sitting on the sofa with a bad guy behind us!

We were told not to raise our hands or make any sudden movements in case the rounds (not the real bullets) hit us.
It was SOOO intense and it felt so much like the real thing when the AST barged in and shouted the commands!
Tell you guys a secret... Beatrice and I held hands cause we were nervous hahah!
And look how we were cowering into the sofa because we were afraid to get hit :S
But of course, the police officers are all really skillful and sharp with their shooting so they never missed any targets and we were totally safe! :)

That very moment when they barged into the room all I could hear was shouting and shooting and I think I was too afraid to even shout!
They had such an assertive and overwhelming aura, if I were the enemy, I'd have peed my pants in a second hahah
I feel super safe knowing that our country has such well-trained, proficient and heroic police officers!

Wah, check out that headshot right across the face of the paper target!

One of the police officers also showed us that although they didn't use the live rounds for practice,
they train with rounds that can still cause significant damage to train them to be extremely precise and proficient with their guns.
The last thing they'd want to do is to injure their own men in a real situation!

It definitely made us be more careful when handling the guns because it was our turn next to pretend to be a member of the AST.

The real AST

The rookie AST-wannabes aka Beatrice, Yina and I hahah!
We had to mimick what they did before -
give commands, fire the paper targets,
but they tweaked the situation a bit and we additionally had real "enemies" with guns pointing at us and we need to shoot them all ASAP!

It was probably the most nerve-wrecking, overwhelming and thrilling experience I've ever had IN MY LIFE!
I could feel my heart beating in my throat and it was about to jump out of my mouth any minute, I was perspiring profusely, I kept trying to tell myself to calm down and the steps I should do when I enter later on etc...
But the moment we entered the room, I could feel myself flustering and my mind was blank and I couldn't remember what I had to do,
I just followed my instincts and shot whatever enemy I spotted (not even sure if the rounds actually hit or not :S)
It was sooooo immense and the adrenaline rush was beyond words,
and if I had the choice, I would love to do it again haha!!

If you want some (or a great deal of) excitement in your career and want to do something extraordinary in your life,
you can really consider joining the Singapore Police Force, and the SOC in particular :D

It'd definitely take a lot of time and practice to learn how to calm your nerves, assess the chaotic situation and make the right decisions as well as the members of the AST do,
which is why it is essential to be passionate and dedicated about the job, just like many of the officers we've met are!

Posing for a photo, we honestly look quite steady ah!

*behind the scenes*
Wait ah, let me catch my breath first...
Look at Beatrice and Yina still going strong lol!

Last but not the least, SOC also comprises of UNPKF and SWTT.

United Nations Peacekeeping Force (UNPKF) 
The UNPKF comprises volunteers specially selected from various units in the SPF. Its participation in 
international peacekeeping missions under the auspices of the UN showcases SPF's contribution 
towards world peace. As a whole, the SPF officers deployed in peacekeeping missions contributed in 
three main areas, namely: 
• Maintaining Peace and Security through Executive Policing 
• Building Law Enforcement Capacity and Capabilities by Imparting Policing Knowledge 
and Skills
• Building Community Confidence through Engaging the People 

Special Women Task Team (SWTT) 
The SWTT is a unique entity specifically trained to handle passive resistance incidents. SWTT is 
formed by female officers from the various SPF units and departments and are activated during 
major operations or when the need arises. Unlike the male counterpart PTT, SWTT is a secondary 
portfolio. SPF can deploy SWTT to safely extract women, children and the elderly assessed to be in a 
vulnerable situation in large scale events, should the crowd turn violent. 

We also got to speak to two female police officers from the SOC about their experiences as a police officer, the difficulties etc.
One of them does planning and admin work mainly, and is also part of the SWTT.
She explained to us that the SWTT is like a part-time or secondary portfolio because they are only activated when the need arises or during major operations.

And one thing about female police officers I noticed..... they always somehow look SUPER YOUNG!
None of them looks their age, I'm so envious!

The other female police officer is from the Police K-9 Unit as seen above, and she's Frisky's handler.
She does her duties at Woodlands checkpoint with Frisky.
And because she's quite young, we asked her about the type of people she'd met and if there were any disrespectful or malicious ones who refused to cooperate etc.
She told us that they'd always work in pairs, so she had a more experienced officer with her who'd help her should any difficult situations arise :)

And that concluded our visit to the SOC :)

In all, I am extremely thankful to be given such a rare opportunity to be involved in this SPF customized programme - from experiencing basic training to going on patrols and then trying out special operations!
It was undoubtedly the most enriching and thrilling experience I've ever had :D

Huge thanks to the Singapore Police Force and NuffnangSG for organizing this!

If you've read my previous blogpost on SPF: Part 1 [I will link this to the previous blogpost],
apart from the fulfilling work experience, there are also many other perks and benefits that a police officer can enjoy :)

Some of the benefits are:

Sign-On Bonus 
New direct-entry officers with Full ‘A’ Level Certificates, International Baccalaureate (IB) / NUS High School Diplomas, 5 Local Polytechnic Diploma Qualifications, or NAFA / LaSalle Qualifications will receive a sign on bonus of $10,000 on appointment to the Sergeant rank. There will be a bond of 2 years for the sign-on bonus, effective from the date of appointment.

Retention Bonus Schemes 
New officers can also look forward to attractive retention bonus schemes.  If you join, you can expect payouts ranging from $6,000 to $10,000 starting from your 3rd year of service or 5th year of service onwards.

MTE scheme
Minimum Term of Engagement (MTE) scheme allows pre-enlistees (males who have yet to serve NS) to join SPF as a regular officer and receive full pay and benefits, while serving NS with SPF.
My friends who joined SPF as regulars get about 4 to 5 times the pay that my younger brother (serving his 2 years of NS in SPF) gets, and this difference in pays is on a monthly basis (2 years = 24 months) so it's really a huge deal haha!

Opportunities for further education
- Home Award (Polytechnic), which sponsors successful applicants for a 3-year full-time diploma, and is also open to EXISTING polytechnic students.
According to the website, the Home Merit Award (Polytechnic) offers an annual allowance of $12,000 (while you're studying in school) and additional study bonus of $1,200 per sem if the student passes all modules in that sem! NICE!!

- Full-Time Degree Sponsorship Programme (FDSP)
I studied in NUS before and I know how expensive uni fees are. And this programme allows good performing Police Officers to pursue full-time undergraduate courses in any of the 4 approved local universities – NTU, NUS, SMU and SUTD.
Under the new FDSP, which is exclusive to SPF,  the uni tuition fees will be FULLY covered
and apart from that, you'll still receive 80% monthly pay throughout the approved duration of study!

For more information on more further education benefits, you can check out:

Whether you're still studying or have graduated and are looking for a job,
if you'd like a stable career filled with excitement, sense of fulfilment,
and you have a desire to help others and to inspire many more,
do explore a career with SPF and/or apply to become a Police Officer via Careers@GovCareers@Gov today :)

For more information, you can visit the Singapore Police Force Recruitment Facebook page!
Do also show your support by "Liking" their page, and also by taking part in their Facebook contest!

How to win:
1. ‘Like’ Singapore Police Force Recruitment Facebook page
2. ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ any of the original link on your own Facebook Wall
3. Comment (i.e. “Liked & Shared!”) on the original link post after you have done the above

10 lucky winners will walk away with a pair of movie tickets each.
Winners will be announced on SPF Recruitment Facebook page!
Easy, isn't it? :)
Contest ends on Friday, 19 Apr 2013, 3:00 PM, so do hurry!

Ending off this post with my favourite picture from my visit to SOC!
This is an experience I'll never forget!
I might even have this printed out, framed and hung on my room wall, hehe! :) 

Thank you for reading, love you all!