Officers may occasionally make traffic rule exceptions to keep protected personnel safe: Police

The image of an LTA officer apparently inspecting President Halimah Yacob's parked car was widely shared online.
The image of an LTA officer apparently inspecting President Halimah Yacob's parked car was widely shared online. PHOTO: ROADS.SG/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Police officers and officers from the Police Security Command (SecCom) seek to observe traffic rules and regulations, but there are occasions when they may have to make exceptions to ensure the safety of the person under protection, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said in a statement on Saturday (Dec 30).

The statement was in response to a Lianhe Zaobao forum letter writer who said it is an offence to park on double yellow lines and that President Halimah Yacob's driver should have been penalised for doing so.

The writer was commenting on a viral photo earlier this month of a uniformed Land Transport Authority (LTA) officer, who appeared to be enforcing traffic rules on the Police Security Command (SecCom) detail for President Halimah.

"For example, the official vehicles may need to be in close proximity to the event location for security reasons and to facilitate quick evacuation," wrote superintendent Simon Ng, assistant director of the public communications division at SPF's Public Affairs Department.

"When responding to law enforcement situations, police vehicles often have to be parked in locations which enable swift, effective operations."

He added that vehicles will be driven near to a place suitable where the person can be picked up, even if parking there is not allowed, if there is no easily accessible carpark that fits the right security profile.

This is so that the person under protection will not be exposed.

"Police officers will assess the situation, including public safety, when making these decisions. They are trained to do so," he wrote. "This is similar to what is being practised by police forces in many other countries."

 

The forum letter, written by Zaobao reader Long Jidong, was published in the Chinese paper on Thursday (Dec 28).

Mr Long wrote: "The security personnel in charge did not follow traffic rules and ought to be penalised. However, the authorities did not issue any summons and did not mention if they gave any warning, only a reminder that the personnel should follow traffic rules with regards to parking."

He added: "Parking on double yellow lines blocks traffic and is an illegal act. Chauffeurs of public sector personnel should be examples and not park on double yellow lines."

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) also issued a response to Mr Long's letter, in which it reiterated that all motorists are treated equally. 

"In enforcing their duties, our traffic enforcement officers will first approach the driver to request them to drive off, if the driver is seated inside the car. A summons will only be issued if the driver does not comply, or if there is no driver in the vehicle," said LTA. 

"In the case of the President’s convoy on Dec 20, the driver had complied and driven off, after he was approached by our enforcement officer."

LTA and SPF had previously issued a joint statement on Dec 22 to say that no summons was issued over the Dec 20 incident at Prinsep Street. 

They also reminded officers who provide security protection to the president and other senior political leaders to make sure their security convoys comply with traffic rules, without compromising the safety and security of the VIPs they are escorting.

The offence of parking a vehicle where there are unbroken double yellow lines can draw a fine starting from $70.