If you haven’t read my first post on my visit to Home Team Academy, Police Training Command previously, do click on Singapore Police Force (Part 1) to read it!
Here’s a continuation of our bloggers’ visit to the Singapore Police Force: and for this visit, we headed down to Special Operations Command (SOC) to find out more about the specialized policing work done by the SOC officers, which is something that many of us are unaware about!
The Special Operations Command (SOC) is a strategic unit of the Singapore Police Force, grouping together various specialist units into a single strategic force to be called upon in any contingency and serious case of public disorder.
Our day started with an introduction to the SOC and how it came about.
Remember those Maria Hertogh riots you learnt about in Social Studies/History in Secondary School?
The SOC traces its history back to 1952, when an anti-riot squad of 60 police officers was formed in the wake of the Maria Hertogh riots, which broke out in 1950 and demonstrated the incapability of existing measures in containing serious cases of public disorder.
Currently, the SOC comprises of the following units:
Police Tactical Team (PTT)
Special Tactics and Rescue (STAR) Unit
Police K-9 Unit
Crisis Negotiation Unit (CNU)
Special Women Task Team (SWTT)
The mission of the Special Operations Command 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. Above all, it functions as the lead agency for tactical development in the SPF.
We headed to the SOC Learning Centre, where we were shown through the gallery of photos, as well as a display of the SOC’s uniforms and the special weapons and arms the SOC officers are outfitted with.
The SOC logo, which is actually a dagger!
This is what the SOC uniform used to look like!
The current SOC combat uniforms. That’s the K-9 Handler, STAR Diver, STAR Assaulter, and the STAR Sniper (in green camo!)
These manequins were so life-like that we thought that the real officers below were manequins too… O_O
It’s not a manequin but a real life SOC officer!
Staff Sergeant Wei Qiang explaining to us the various features of the uniform.
It was really interesting to find out what some of the differences the special SOC combat uniforms had from the regular uniform: for instance, SOC officers do not carry handcuffs but use cable ties instead because of the lighter weight, and the potential need of having to restrain more than one criminal, as the SOC officers are trained to handle crowds and any incidents of public disorder.
Group photo with the two smartly uniformed officers!
This front section of the old policing vehicle used was also on display.. There were loudspeakers used to broadcast messages from casette tapes, and flashing lights were used to indicate different squad formations and commands! Pretty cool 😉
I was really looking forward to the next programme on our schedule, which was the dog demonstration by the K-9 Unit!
The Police K-9 Unit has dogs trained specifically for explosive detection, drug detection, guard duties and anti-crime operations. Its dogs are also trained to support the Police Tactical Unit (PTU) in public order operations. The unit also supports the Central Narcotics Bureau, Customs and Prisons Departments in their operations at checkpoints, ferry terminals, airport and penal institutions.
This little box here contains real marijuana, which is used to train the dogs in the K-9 unit to sniff out controlled drugs.
During training, cardboard boxes are laid out on the ground, and the narcotic is hidden inside one of the boxes and taped up, sometimes with other strong scents like perfume or spices in order to conceal the presence of the narcotic.
Meet Frisky! Upon commands given by his handling officer, Frisky was off like a shot to sniff out any illegal substances!
Once Frisky detected the marijuana that was hidden in the box, he immediately stopped dead in his tracks to indicate that he had found something! Smart Frisky!
And as a form of reward, the dogs are then allowed to play with their toy! Frisky loves fetch and a good game of tug-of-war!
There are quite many breeds of dogs trained to work at the K-9 unit, including labrador retrievers, german sheperds, springer spaniels and various other breeds!
We had the chance to interact with these dogs, and all of them are so lively and energetic!
Made friends with Frisky over here.. He is stationed at Woodlands Checkpoint, and patrols with the K-9 unit team in two-day shifts!
Rachell with the gentle German Shepard dog who is so much tamer than he looks!
Bea giving another of the dogs a good belly rubbing!
I would seriously consider a career as a K-9 Unit Police Officer! Heh. By the way, the dogs are allowed to “retire” at the age of 8. As the dog handler usually develops a very close relationship with his/her dog, many of them bring it home as a pet after its retirement age is up!
Love the adorable spaniel who was utterly playful hahaha this picture is so cute because everyone was just staring at Millie the spaniel!
It was such an enriching experience to be able to have the opportunity to find out more about the K-9 unit and get to interact with the dogs!
Next, we were introduced to a very very special vehicle used for riot control purposes.. A modified fire engine!
There are several functions to this riot vehicle, which is used for crowd dispersal and control. It holds a huge reserve of water, which can be pumped out via the water cannons atop the engine, or sprinklers/hoses from various parts of the vehicle!
We each got a turn to ride in the vehicle, and even try our hand at firing off the water cannon. It is definitely not easy as it looks, because you need the right amount of water pressure and very good aiming to hit your target accurately!
Check out the amazing jet of water shooting out from the water cannon! The force of it is enough to send a man flying! We were aiming for the two oil barrels, but ended up overshooting alot of the time 🙁
Thank you for the kind guidance from the officers who taught us how to fire off the water cannons and guided us!
We were told to change into a long sleeved shirt for our next programme, AST Exercise and I was really apprehensive about it because it didn’t sound like it was gonna be simple! D:
We were briefed on the AST (Anti-Swarming Team) Exercise and basically it would be a simulation exercise with real weapons. We would first be “rescued” as hostages by the team, before we got hands on with the weapons ourselves to apprehend armed “criminals” and take them down. I was terrified upon hearing that we’d be handling real weapons!
The exercise was conducted in what looked an old estate of HDB blocks.
We were outfitted in head gear, a vest and gloves, for safety purposes, during the exercise!
For the first scenario, we would roleplay as innocent members of the public held captive by “armed gunmen”. The Anti-Swarming Team would then move in to neutralise the “armed gunmen”. There would be live targets as well as paper shooting targets and the weapons would be loaded with simulation rounds, which are similar to paintball rounds. If you’ve ever played paintball, you’d know that they hurt ALOT, and at such close shooting range, boy, was I nervous!
We were told to sit still and not to move out of our position, as the AST team would be firing at the paper targets right next to us, and if we moved, we might get hit accidentally. Scary! I had to sit by myself right in front of the door and I swear my heart was beating so quickly while waiting for the exercise to begin!
Bea and Rachell were seated on a couch with a target right above them as well. Any false move and we might get accidentally hit by a round!
The exercise began and the team of armed officers burst in with their weapons, shouting commands like POLICE, GET DOWN! GET DOWN! and it was damn scary omg! The gun fire sounds were very loud and I nearly jumped out of my seat when one of the officers stood in front of me and fired at the paper target right next to me!
It was extremely realistic and one of the officers roughly escorted me out of the room and into “safety”. Felt very relieved to be out “safe”!
As the simulation rounds contain color compounds, you’d be able to assess the accuracy of your shots.
We were taught how to use the rifles to shoot, and practiced on the paper targets, then it was our turn to use them on real people… O_O We had to charge into the room upon command, and take down any opposition we saw, be it the paper targets or the real life targets that would be shooting back at us! Scariest thing ever, really. We were still very clumsy with the rifles which were heavy and unwieldy, and I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins the moment we burst into the room and had to chase down the “armed criminals” and take them down!
After the exercise. PHEW! It really really got me perspiring and my heart beat up! I really can’t imagine myself facing this in a real life situation. I’m such a wimp :X Really salute the police officers for being so amazingly brave and courageous to be well-trained for situations like this!
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! Female officers sure look cool :DDD HAHAHA. Let me act 一个 please! I felt really awesome after taking down all those bad guys, even if it was just a simulated exercise! Whoop whoop!
We ended off the exciting day by chatting with a couple of the female officers in the Force, one of whom was the dog handler we met earlier from the K-9 unit! These two female officers are part of the Special Women Task Team at SOC, which exists as a unique entity specifically trained to handle passive resistance incidents involving women, children and the elderly. It’s pretty amazing to talk to them to find out about what it’s like as a female officer in the Force, and why they joined the police force initially.
I’ve got to say, the police force sure has got some secret to keeping all the female officers looking so youthful, because not a single one of them looks like their actual age! D:
After meeting so many of the female police officers in the Singapore Police Force during the two days visit, my respect for them has increased ten-fold! It is certainly not easy to have to be alongside the men, but these feisty women sure don’t let anything get in their way. Each and every female police officer that I’ve seen are all so dedicated and committed to their job with a fierce passion that is rare in today’s society. Salute!
Thank you so much for having us, and I really learnt alot about the SOC! It was a truly enriching and information session, and I’m so glad to have had the chance to take part in this! 🙂
The Civilian Officers who helped to organize and arrange for these two days, and who work hand-in-hand alongside the Police Officers behind the front line to support and assist the Singapore Police Force! Thank you!!
If you’re considering exploring a career with SPF, and/or applying to become a Police Officer, do go to Careers@Gov (www.careers.gov.sg) for more information!
‘Like’ SPF Recruitment Facebook page to show your support and take part in the SPF Recruitment Facebook Contest!
All you need to do is the following:
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.
Contest ends on Thursday, 13 June 2013, 3pm!
(Participants have to ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ before the closing date/time to account for a valid entry.)
Visit Singapore Police Force Recruitment Facebook page here!
(And please watch this exciting video!!!)