Inaugural batch of police fast response teams to hit the ground running after parade

Inspector Paige Lee from the Police's Emergency Response Teams (ERTs) will be commissioned at the Police Day Parade (PDP) 2016 on June 3, 2016.
Inspector Paige Lee from the Police's Emergency Response Teams (ERTs) will be commissioned at the Police Day Parade (PDP) 2016 on June 3, 2016.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee commissioning Insp James Wong (second from right) as officer of the Emergency Response Teams (ERTs).
Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee commissioning Insp James Wong (second from right) as officer of the Emergency Response Teams (ERTs).ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Officers from the Special Ops Command giving a demonstration of their capabilities during Police Day Parade on June 3, 2016.
Officers from the Special Ops Command giving a demonstration of their capabilities during Police Day Parade on June 3, 2016.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

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

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

However, the Team Leader of Tanglin Division's ERT reassured them that she was well-trained in counter-assault and tactical skills to cope with high threats.

Inspector Lee was part of the inaugural batch of specially-trained ERT officers that were commissioned on Friday (June 3) at this year's Police Day Parade.

A total of 20 ERT officers, including the six Team Leaders of each police land division, represented the batch to receive their skill badges.

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

Despite being a female officer, Inspector Lee said that there were "no shortcuts or privileges" while training at the Special Operations Command alongside her male counterparts.

She said: "For females, if we think that the weight (of the equipment) is too heavy, we're still expected to go through the training. They won't lessen our load in any way."

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

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

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

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

"I 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 have 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, participated 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.