First fast-response police officers commissioned

As an Emergency Response Team member, Insp Lee is equipped with a HK-MP 5 submachine gun and focuses on containing threats on the ground quickly while minimalising casualties.
As an Emergency Response Team member, Insp Lee is equipped with a HK-MP 5 submachine gun and focuses on containing threats on the ground quickly while minimalising casualties.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Special police teams will be first responders in shooting, bomb threat or terror situation

When Inspector Paige Lee, 25, first told her parents she would be joining a new police fast-response unit, they were concerned about the risks involved for their only child.

After all, officers of the Emergency Response Teams (ERTs), unveiled in April, would form the first wave of responders in the event of a gun attack, bomb threat or terrorist situation.

The team leader of Tanglin Division's ERT had to reassure them she was well trained in counter-assault and tactical skills to cope with such threats.

They were proud parents yesterday when Insp Lee was in the inaugural batch of specially trained ERT officers commissioned at this year's Police Day Parade.

A total of 20 ERT officers, including the six team leaders of each police land division, received skill badges on behalf of their teams.

Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee was guest of honour at the annual parade held at the Home Team Academy.


As an Emergency Response Team member, Insp Lee is equipped with a HK-MP 5 submachine gun and focuses on containing threats on the ground quickly while minimalising casualties. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Being a female officergives her "no shortcuts or privileges" in training at the Special Operations Command, said Insp Lee.

Equipped with HK-MP 5 submachine guns, the ERT officers focus on containing threats on the ground quickly while minimalising casualties.

On a daily basis, these officers can be seen patrolling public areas such as shopping centres as a deterrent measure.

The rigorous training programme also includes being thrown into unpredictable scenarios with limited information and forced to make critical decisions fast.

"There's no textbook answer," said the National University of Singapore graduate in political science who was nominated to be an ERT officer after two years in the force as an investigation officer at Bedok Division.

It was Insp Lee's first interaction with police officers as a nine-year-old that inspired her to join the force.

She said: "We had family friends who got into a family dispute that turned ugly. When the men in blue came in their uniforms, I just felt a sense of reassurance that everything was going to be okay."

For Clementi Division ERT team leader James Wong, 29, it was recent terror incidents in the region, such the Jakarta bombings in January, that spurred him to contribute in his new role.

"Given the current security climate, there's a need for a swift, capable and ready force to counter such threats," said the former investigation officer at Jurong Division.

A total of 655 participants, led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police Gwee Aik Chiong, took part in the parade.

Bedok Division, which covers the eastern part of Singapore from Geylang to Pasir Ris, was named the Best Land Division this year.

The Best National Service Operationally Ready Unit was awarded to Clementi Division.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2016, with the headline 'First fast-response officers commissioned'. Print Edition | Subscribe