Police to get extra eyes and ears on public transport

Above (from left): Mr Kenneth Chan, Mr Robert Abrams and Mr Alvin Tan are among the first volunteers in the Singapore Police Force's Riders-On-Watch (ROW) scheme. Those who sign up for the scheme will receive a limited edition ez-link card (left). ST
Above (from left): Mr Kenneth Chan, Mr Robert Abrams and Mr Alvin Tan are among the first volunteers in the Singapore Police Force's Riders-On-Watch (ROW) scheme. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Above (from left): Mr Kenneth Chan, Mr Robert Abrams and Mr Alvin Tan are among the first volunteers in the Singapore Police Force's Riders-On-Watch (ROW) scheme. Those who sign up for the scheme will receive a limited edition ez-link card (left). ST
Those who sign up for the scheme will receive a limited edition ez-link card (above). ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

The police have launched a scheme for ordinary people to be their eyes and ears for incidents that occur on public transport.

These Riders-On-Watch (ROW) will help keep a lookout for persons of interest or someone who needs help when they receive alerts by text or WhatsApp about such incidents.

They could be crimes such as outrage of modesty, or mishaps.

ROW volunteers may receive descriptions of an alleged offender's physical appearance or pictures from surveillance footage. Their job is then to help the police by reporting back if they see something.

The first ROW will be the 15 people who received awards yesterday at the Woodlands Police Division for their public-spirited acts on public transport this year, as well as four awardees from last year.

In one incident, three men helped to apprehend a man who had molested a woman at Somerset MRT station on June 14. The victim was confronting her molester when he punched her in the face to get away.

Mr Alvin Tan, 39, and Mr Robert Abrams, 41, colleagues at a tech firm, jumped into action to shield her and prevent the man from escaping. Mr Kenneth Chan, 42, a hairstylist at a nearby salon, heard the commotion and helped to chase and pin him down.

For Mr Abrams, stepping in to help was a natural reaction. He said: "You can't just see a man punch a woman and not do anything."

He also supports the ROW scheme, as "everyday people should take ownership of their own safety and that of their neighbours".

Mr Amrin Amin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs who was guest of honour at the award ceremony and launch of the scheme by the Singapore Police Force's Public Transport Security Command (TransCom), said that with more commuters in the coming years as train lines and bus routes are added, public transport will likely be a target for terror and crime.

Last year, 7.54 million trips were made daily on average on buses and trains. TransCom officers made 723 arrests for various offences.

Mr Amin said: "The policemen and women cannot be everywhere; thus we want to call on the public to be our force multipliers."

Members of the public can sign up by scanning the QR code on posters at public transport nodes or on postcards handed out by TransCom officers at MRT stations. They can also sign up on the SPF website.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2019, with the headline 'Police to get extra eyes and ears on public transport'. Print Edition | Subscribe