Police officers from elite Special Operations Command train to handle various types of threats

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SINGAPORE - At the Home Team Tactical Centre's (HTTC) unique drive-in shooting range, police officers from the Special Operations Command (SOC) train to deal with a multitude of threats.

In a rare preview for media on Monday (Nov 27), the SOC's Rapid Deployment Troops (RDT) and Armed Strike Team rode on tactical response motorcycles and vehicles to handle a simulated threat, taking out "enemies" surrounding them. The exercise, which lasted less than a minute, was completed without a hitch.

During the 2½ hour tour of the HTTC in Mandai Quarry Road, The Straits Times was given a behind-the-scenes look at the kind of training and capabilities the elite SOC officers have.

The SOC is responsible for police tactical operations, and maintenance of public order and security, among other things.

Easily identified by its "ang chia", a colloquial term for the red bus its officers ride in, the SOC comprises various specialised units, including the Police Tactical Unit, the Special Tactics and Rescue (Star) unit, and the Police K-9 Unit.

During training and operations, SOC officers, whose ballistic resistance vests together with their weapons can easily weigh up to 25kg, have to navigate swiftly through various situations and spaces.

The Star unit, in particular, handles hostage rescue operations and high-risk arrests.

And for the first time on Monday, the media were able to see how officers train for scenarios in enclosed spaces in the Close Quarter Battle House.

Live firing display by officers from the Special Operations Command's Rapid Deployment Troops. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

The area replicates various layouts and rooms, with multiple nooks and crannies, and can be reconfigured by moving the false walls around.

In Monday's showcase, Star officers also showed their ability to breach a compound, by rappelling from a height and entering a building after using explosives to create an entry point.

Officers from the Special Operations Command's Special Tactics and Rescue (Star) unit rappelling from a helicopter mock-up. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Amid the rising threat of terrorism, SOC training has become more realistic over the years and the Home Team knows it needs to respond even more quickly to incidents, said Superintendent Tan Tian Yeow, Assistant Director of the Operations Department Contingency Planning Division.

Highlighting the RDTs in the drive-in range demonstration, Supt Tan said: "(This is one of the reasons) they respond on their tactical motorcycles which allow them to clear any heavy traffic when necessary."

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Supt Tan also stressed the need for the community and stakeholders, like building owners, to be ready to respond should an incident arise, so as to help reduce overall casualties.

"Because of the current environment we are in now, we want them to know we (the police) are prepared, but we also want them to be prepared, so we can work hand in hand," he said.

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