SINGAPORE: Non-regular Singapore Police Force officers will take on more roles in community outreach and policing - something currently done only by regular police officers.
About 1,500 Police National Servicemen (PNSMen) officers will be part of a new Community Engagement Vocation, where they will learn how to manage and evacuate crowds, and handle suspicious items, among other things.
They will then be deployed to Community Policing Units in Neighbourhood Police Centres, and be involved in activities like workshops, exhibitions, and community events.
The new vocation comes as part of the police's support of SGSecure, a national initiative to help Singaporeans prevent and prepare for a terrorist attack.
"The success or failure of SGSecure depends on how much, how deep we are able to bring it across people to people on the ground, that everyone is responsible for their security in different ways," said Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam, who was speaking to reporters at the HomeTeamNS REAL Run on Sunday (May 15).
"The issue of terrorism cannot be dealt with by kinetic force - the police, the emergency responders themselves. That's essential but the second big part of it is - it can happen anywhere, and when it happens anywhere, how can the community respond?"
"We want to transform ourselves into a nation of lifesavers who will understand how to react," he added. "It's not going to be done in a year, or two years, it's going to take time - but we have to start."
Mr Shanmugam said that SGSecure related trials will begin next month in some constituencies, including his constituency Nee Soon GRC.
The new community engagement police officers will begin training later in May. Training for PNSF officers is expected to begin in the second half of 2016.
"For those officers who are not allowed to carry arms, rather then having to stay in the office, we'll now be able to better contribute," said Mr Sherhan Suhandi, one of the PNS officers who will take part in he Community Engagement Programme. "There are more responsibilities for a reservist officer; it motivates us more."
Besides the police, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) is also making changes to its units as part of the SGSecure movement. The SCDF's ORNS Shelter Battalion will be renamed the Public Shelter and Resilience Unit from July.
About 1,000 NSMen will start conducting door to door visits to share their knowledge in areas like household shelter management and fire safety.
"Currently we are part of the shelter battalion, so we mainly do shelter set up in preparation for emergency," said COL (NS) Keng Feung, one of the unit's commanders. "But with the new expanded scope, we are actually moving out to the front, we are doing public education."