NS police officers to take on community engagement roles

Mr Shanmugam with participants in the HomeTeamNS Real Run held on Sentosa yesterday. The minister said pilot trials related to SG Secure will begin next month in some constituencies, including his own Nee Soon GRC.
Mr Shanmugam with participants in the HomeTeamNS Real Run held on Sentosa yesterday. The minister said pilot trials related to SG Secure will begin next month in some constituencies, including his own Nee Soon GRC.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

They will be trained in crowd management and evacuation and help NPCs in outreach activities

Both operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) and full-time national servicemen (NSFs) from the police force are to take on new roles to support Singapore's SG Secure initiative.

About 1,500 police NSmen will form the new community engagement vocation.

Their training starts this month, after which they will be deployed in the neighbourhood police centres' (NPCs') community policing units.

The police national servicemen will be trained in crowd management and evacuation, as well as the handling of suspicious items.

The training for NSFs will start in the second half of this year.

All these national servicemen, who will be known as community engagement officers, will assist the NPCs in outreach activities.

They will help in events such as workshops and exhibitions to educate the public about the terrorist threat and how they should respond in the event of an attack here.

The Singapore Police Force shared these details yesterday at the HomeTeamNS Real (Regular Exercise, Active Lifestyle) Run held on Sentosa. The change is in support of SG Secure, a new national programme to be launched later this year in an effort to build community resilience against the terror threat.

Mr K. Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, told reporters at yesterday's event that pilot trials related to SG Secure will begin next month in some constituencies, including his own Nee Soon GRC.

"The success or failure of SG Secure depends on how much, how deep, we are able to bring it across to people on the ground that everyone is responsible for their security in different ways," he said.

"We want to transform ourselves into a nation of life-savers who understand how to react."

Meanwhile, the Singapore Civil Defence Force's ORNS Shelter Battalion will be renamed the Public Shelter and Resilience Unit from July.

The SCDF said yesterday about 1,000 NSmen from this unit will take on two new functions in community engagement and community first response during their in-camp training. They include door-to-door house visits to disseminate information on household shelter management and fire safety measures.

These efforts come as the Government reveals counter-terrorism plans, including SG Secure, to rally Singaporeans to stay alert and guard against terror attacks.

The SCDF announced at its work- plan seminar earlier this month that community programmes training volunteers in life-saving skills will focus on equipping individuals who can react to emergencies before police and civil defence forces arrive.

The authorities will also involve neighbourhoods, schools, businesses and community groups in training Singaporeans in how to react in the event of an attack.

Colonel (NS) Tan Kheng Feung, 44, one of the commanders of the Public Shelter and Resilience Unit, said disseminating information to the public on emergency preparedness is "particularly important as we are now in heightened security".

The terror threat has "become closer to Singapore so we have to teach the public... We have to do something ourselves, not just depend on the agencies involved", he added.

Mr Sherhan Suhandi, 36, one of those who will be part of the community engagement vocation this year, said: "There is more responsibility for reservist officers and I think it motivates us more. For an officer who is not armed and not out in the open, we find that by going out, we really feel that we are serving the nation."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2016, with the headline 'NS police officers to take on community engagement roles'. Print Edition | Subscribe