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Emergency Response Teams Set to Battle Terror Threat with Quick, Direct Response
Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, Mr K Shanmugam, joined an Emergency Response Team

Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, Mr K Shanmugam, joined an Emergency Response Team (ERT) for its evening patrol at the Esplanade vicinity this evening.

Earlier today, he spoke with ERT officers based at the Marina Bay Neighbourhood Police Centre to find out how they are adapting to the new operational demands.

“Morale is high and they know they are doing something very important for the country,” said Minister Shanmugam, adding too that the Singapore Police Force (SPF) is engaging premise owners and stakeholders, such as the Esplanade, very closely, in the hope that more will be receptive to the ERTs patrolling and familiarising themselves with the terrain of both outdoor and indoor public spaces. “It increases the confidence level for everyone,” he said.

Minister Shanmugam was speaking with reporters who were keen to know more about the relevance of the ERTs in light of a recent string of terror attacks in the world today.

Minister Shanmugam speaking with ERT officers. PHOTO: Mabel Yap

Deployed since June 2016 by the Singapore Police Force (SPF) to enhance its security response capabilities, the ERTs are specially trained in counter-assault skills and equipped with weapons to deal with armed threats quickly to minimise the number of casualties.

They conduct high-visibility patrols at locations with heavy human traffic, such as retail malls and their vicinities, serving as deterrence against would-be attackers and criminals. In the event of a terror attack, these officers will be the first to respond to the situation and defend the public against any violent threat in a swift and decisive manner to prevent any loss of lives.

The setting up of the ERTs is one of the nation’s many intensive counter-terrorism initiatives aimed at reducing the risk of attacks and improving its responses, making them quicker, more efficient, effective and streamlined, if and when attacks occur.

“We’re talking about quick response, effective response, a very direct response,” Minister Shanmugam made clear to reporters present as he walked along the Jubilee Bridge to observe the ERT on patrol.

 You may have seen them walking around with weapons in their hands. Do not be alarmed, and do not usher them away from your premises. They are here to help protect you and the general public from any potential act of terror. Let's combat the terror threat, together. (https://www.facebook.com/hometeamnews/)

Emergency Response Team (ERT) officers on patrol at Esplanade Waterfront. PHOTO: Mabel Yap

Emphasising that terrorist threats are real and that Singapore has to be ready to respond to such incidents, he shared more about how the Police has enhanced its capability to manage and respond to these security threats.

“We talked earlier this year about the need to develop tactics which deal with the modus operandi that we have seen from the terrorists, who no longer take hostages; and who are out to kill as many people as possible and who target soft spots like mosques, concert theatres and so on,” said Minister Shanmugam. “So in a matter of months, we’ve identified the right fit of officers for emergency response, trained them, equipped them; we deploy them and also plan which are the places to concentrate our deployment at. Pretty much all of Singapore has to be covered in some way because an attack can happen anywhere.”

The ERTs undergo regular intensive training with the Special Operations Command (SOC) and conduct joint patrols with the SPF’s Public Transport Security Command (Transcom), and Community Policing Unit officers from the Neighbourhood Police Centres all over Singapore.

“The forces are on the ground. The Police has done very well in doing this in a very short space of time. Over the next few months, the deployment will continue and the number of forces will be increased. And there will be back up forces as well,” Minister Shanmugam added. “If and when an attack takes place, how we respond as a community the day after is very important. We need the entire population to understand the fact that there is a threat, the fact that an attack can happen, and that we have to respond as a community, together, reaching across racial and religious lines.”

 Minister Shanmugam engaging stakeholders and premise managers who are gradually opening their doors to allow ERT officers to patrol indoors as well. PHOTO: Mabel Yap
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Mabelle Yeo
  2. 22 July 2016
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