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More than 400 cases of police officers facing verbal abuse, physical hurt over 2 years

More than 400 cases of police officers facing verbal abuse, physical hurt over 2 years

Screengrab of a video circulating on social media of a person resisting arrest at Balestier Road on Jun 20, 2021.

SINGAPORE: There were more than 400 reported cases of police officers who faced verbal abuse or physical hurt while carrying out their duties between 2019 and 2020, said Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan in Parliament on Tuesday (Aug 3). 

These included incidents where police officers were “challenged by disorderly members of the public”. 

Mr Tan was responding to a parliamentary question posed by MP Cheng Li Hui (PAP-Tampines), who asked about the number of such incidents over the past two years. 

Ms Cheng also asked how many of these cases had additional backup deployed, and how the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) ensures police are physically and mentally prepared to handle face-to-face conflicts. 

In response, Mr Tan said the ministry does not track the number of cases where backup officers are deployed. But “depending on the situation, additional resources may be dispatched to reinforce the on-scene officers to arrest the criminals, maintain peace and protect lives”, he said.

Police officers are trained in various techniques to handle dynamic and unpredictable threats, including face-to-face conflicts. 

“These (techniques) include the use of verbal command, unarmed tactics, batons, Tasers and firearms,” said Mr Tan.

“The police officers will evaluate the threat posed and take an appropriate course of action against the aggressor, taking into account public safety and their own safety, and the aggressor’s safety as well.”

READ: Crime-fighting during COVID-19 - precautions taken in prisons, police stations and courts

READ: Negotiate or break in? How the police handle stand-offs with people who lock themselves in

MP Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim (PAP-Chua Chu Kang) asked in a supplementary question whether there was “any special recourse or compensation” for police officers should they get hurt by a member of the public. 

“(If) they’re injured, which will happen from time to time, they will be taken care of … in terms of medical and personal recourse. More importantly, we will continue to support them in their duties (that) they signed up for,” said Mr Tan. 

READ: Police address claims of mistreatment made by man arrested for drink-driving

In June, a man was arrested in Balestier for causing annoyance to the public when drunk, using abusive language against a police officer and using criminal force to deter an officer from discharging his duty. 

In July, another man turned hostile towards police officers, paramedics and members of the public at a coffee shop in Jalan Besar. Despite repeated reminders to the man to comply with officers’ instructions, he allegedly challenged the officers to a fight and charged towards them. He was arrested after an officer used a Taser stun device to subdue him. 

Source: CNA/gy(cy)

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