What to do when terrorists strike

Children at a booth for trying out dusting for fingerprints at the police community roadshow in Woodlands Civic Centre yesterday. The event was held to raise awareness about police work.
Children at a booth for trying out dusting for fingerprints at the police community roadshow in Woodlands Civic Centre yesterday. The event was held to raise awareness about police work.PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE

Police train 150 residents to identify and respond to attacks

A gunman opening fire at Ion Orchard; people suddenly collapsing on the ground at the National Stadium; a parcel wrapped with layers of tape lying beside a lamp post near Tampines MRT station.

In such scenarios, how should one respond? About 150 residents from Sembawang, Woodlands and Admiralty were trained by the police yesterday to identify signs of terror attacks and assist with evacuation efforts.

They should cover their noses and mouths with wet cloth or their sleeves if they see people falling to the ground during a soccer match at the stadium, for instance. Then they should move away from where the wind is blowing, inform the authorities and follow their instructions.

"It was useful and informative. I learnt that if we encounter any crime or terrorist incident and it is not safe to make a call, I can send a text instead to 71999 to alert the police," said Mr Shaik Mohammad, 61, a customer service officer who attended the session at Woodlands Community Club.

The training programme is part of the national SGSecure movement that aims to train at least one member from each family on how to protect themselves should terror strike.

DOING ONE'S PART

It was useful and informative. I learnt that if we encounter any crime or terrorist incident and it is not safe to make a call, I can send a text instead to 71999 to alert the police.

MR SHAIK MOHAMMAD, 61, a customer service officer, on the training session by the police to identify signs of terror attacks and assist with evacuation efforts.

The 150 residents who gathered at Woodlands Community Club yesterday morning were from Citizens-On-Patrol (COP) groups. These volunteers patrol their neighbourhoods regularly to keep their communities safe.

The top COP teams from the three constituencies - Sembawang, Woodlands and Admiralty - were recognised at an award ceremony at the Woodlands Civic Centre yesterday.

The top COP team from Sembawang, which completed 184 patrols last year, was led by Mr Shaik.

For the last 17 years, he has been patrolling his neighbourhood - previously Marsiling, now Sembawang - two to three times a month.

He and about six other neighbours don bright yellow vests, arm themselves with torchlights and walk around 15 blocks of flats on a Thursday or Friday night.

Last year, he recalled, there was a tip-off from the police about a teenager, suspected of molesting someone, who was at large in the area. After receiving theyoungster's photo which was disseminated via their COP chat group, they fanned out to conduct their patrols.

Mr Shaik spotted the teenager hanging out with his friends at a void deck and swiftly alerted the police. Within 10 minutes, the officers arrived and took the suspect in for questioning.

"There is satisfaction in knowing that I could do something to prevent bad incidents from happening to residents here," said Mr Shaik, who makes it a point to be on the morning shift at work on the days when he has to do night patrols.

Since the COP initiative started in 1997, more than 8,000 residents have joined as the eyes and ears of their estates.

Apart from the award ceremony, a police community roadshow was also held at the Civic Centre yesterday to raise awareness about police work.

Members of the public were able to to view the equipment used by front-line officers. Some gained a feel of the investigative work done by police officers by trying out dusting for fingerprints, for example. Others saw how the police used their K-9 dogs.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 18, 2016, with the headline 'What to do when terrorists strike'. Print Edition | Subscribe