How police officers are trained to use force techniques effectively

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The police took members of the media through a one-day crash course on how they train officers to use various use of force techniques effectively, ranging from hand-to-hand tactics, batons and Tasers, to pistols.

SINGAPORE - Over the past 10 years, there have been four cases where police officers have used their firearms, and two of these incidents happened earlier this year.

On Thursday (May 19), the police took journalists through a one-day crash course on how they train officers to use various force techniques effectively, ranging from hand-to-hand tactics and batons, to Tasers and pistols.

Superintendent of Police Toh Pei Lian, the commanding officer of Frontline Policing Training School from Training Command, said officers are generally required to consider several factors when it comes to using force.

This includes the amount of force to be applied with regard to the perceived threat posed by a subject, the safety of members of the public and fellow officers, as well as the safety of the subject.

Supt Toh said: "Our officers generally use force, when necessary, to effect an arrest or handle a threat to life and property.

"The purpose of both is to bring the situation under control and to mitigate further unnecessary harm to all parties involved."

The police said on Thursday that all cases involving the use of firearms and Tasers are reviewed by them to ensure that the weapons had been used in line with their doctrine and training.

Officers are trained to fire at the centre of the body if they have to stop an imminent threat of grievous hurt or death.

The police said: "In dynamic situations, this offers a higher probability of hitting, and the shot is more likely to stop the person. This also reduces the risk of injuries to innocent bystanders from stray bullets."

For Tasers, officers use the Taser X26P which discharges 50,000 volts when successfully deployed.

When an officer pulls the trigger, two darts, or probes, attached to wires from the gun will latch onto the suspect's skin and send volts of electricity through the body.

The surge of voltage can override the sensory and motor nervous systems and cause an uncontrollable contraction of muscles.

The police said that officers are trained to avoid situations, such as a fall hazard, where the person may be at risk of serious injury or death if the Taser is used.

But the effectiveness of the weapon is affected by the distance between the two probes, or when one or both probes miss, fail to embed properly, or get dislodged.

ST journalist Jean Iau (left) practicing contact tactics during a media demonstration at Home Team Academy, on May 19, 2022. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

What the target is wearing, the distance between the target and the officer, and the degree of movement by the target may also hinder a successful deployment.

If the Taser fails to subdue a suspect, officers are trained to use other options, including the baton or firearm, depending on their assessment of the situation.

Aside from using weapons, they are also trained in contact tactics which involve placing suspects in locks and holds.

Supt Toh noted that officers undergo a six-month Police Officer Basic Course, where they are taught, among other things, police contact tactics, basic combat shooting, incident management, public order and public security incident management.

They must undergo annual re-certification tests and training to remain competent in the use of firearms and Tasers.

Supt Toh said of the police using force: "They will take decisive action, including using necessary force, to subdue persons who pose an imminent threat of harm to the public, or to our officers in the discharge of their duties.

"The Singapore Police Force continuously reviews the training, procedures and equipment of our officers to ensure that our officers can execute their duties effectively and safely in line with the security climate."


Four shootings in 10 years and two Taser incidents in 2022

2022:

Clementi

On Feb 17, a man, 49, was shot by an officer outside Clementi Neighbourhood Police Centre. The police said he was seen holding a knife outside the police station. When officers approached him, he shouted incoherently, refused to comply and charged towards one of them.

The man suffered a gunshot wound on his left arm and was taken conscious to the hospital.

Bendemeer Road

A man wielding a knife was shot dead at Block 33 Bendemeer Road on March 23.

The police said Ng Eng Kui, 64, a drug offender, was walking around the foot of the HDB block shouting and brandishing a knife. When officers told him to drop the weapon, he refused and advanced towards them.

The officers fired three Taser shots and retreated, but he continued to advance towards them.

Beach Road

A man who allegedly attacked his wife with a chopper near Beach Road on April 14 was arrested after he was Tasered.

When the police arrived at Chong Qing (Origin) Steamboat, the man, 46, refused to drop his weapon despite warnings from officers.

Boon Lay 

A 56-year-old man was arrested last Friday (May 20) after being Tasered. He allegedly charged at officers while holding a knife at Boon Lay Place.

2020, Balestier

On Nov 5, a man was shot in the abdomen. The man, then 36, allegedly assaulted an officer and tried to grab the revolver of a second officer. He was taken to hospital and was reported then to be in stable condition.

2015, Shangri-La Hotel

A man, 34, was shot dead by police on May 31, near the Shangri-La Hotel where the Shangri-La Dialogue, a high-level security summit, was held.

He drove a red Subaru Impreza and was stopped at a police checkpoint in Ardmore Park. When officers asked to inspect the boot, he accelerated. Despite warnings to stop, he continued to crash through police barricades before he was shot.

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