Little-known Public Order Response Force reappears at ASEAN Summit

Little-known Public Order Response Force reappears at ASEAN Summit

A little-known, elite police task force was stationed at the Suntec Convention Centre, where world leaders gathered for the ASEAN Summit earlier this week. It is the Public Order Response Force, a team activated only during major events. 

SINGAPORE: A little-known, elite police task force was stationed at the Suntec City Convention Centre, where world leaders met for the 33rd ASEAN Summit, earlier this week.

The Public Order Response Force (PORF) is an elite arm of the Singapore Police Force, and is activated only during major events, which this year also includes the Trump-Kim Summit in June.

The officers are handpicked from across the different police units and then trained to be the first to respond to any public order incidents, such as riots and protests.

Public Order Response Force training
Public Order Response Force members face off against rioters during training.

The team has been in operation in all six land divisions since 2011.

PORF Commander, Deputy Assistant Commissioner (DAC) Dominic John Baptist, said their training regime includes both scenario-based exercises and classroom-based training.

"The PORF supplements the Special Operations Command in dealing with the public order incidents," he said.

"So, it's the first line of defence when we are dealing with public order threats to the ASEAN Summit. My role as a PORF commander is to ensure that my officers are always ready to deal with public order incidents, if and when they arise."

The officers work across different departments in the police force and train together several times a year to maintain cohesion in the team.

Added DAC Baptist: "This tempo will actually increase as and when a deployment is made known to us like the ASEAN Summit.

"My team was involved in the Trump-Kim Summit earlier in the year and that experience has given us some higher state of readiness as we move towards preparations for this deployment."

Within PORF is an all-female team, trained to handle public disorder situations involving women, children and the elderly.

From 23 members in its 2007 pioneer batch, the Special Women's Task Team now numbers over 100.

Apart from securing the ASEAN Summit venue, the police force also had to implement security measures at hotels where the delegates stayed during the event.

Commander of Tanglin Police Division, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Chong Zun Jie, said: "One of the challenges we face is the hotel remains open to the public as well as the hotel guests.

"Therefore, the security measures we put in place must minimise inconvenience to the public and hotel guests, without compromising the safety and security of the delegates.

"To do this, we’ve worked very closely with the hotel's management over the past few months over the security arrangement."

A total of 5,000 police officers provided land and sea security during the Summit.

Source: CNA/ec(ra)