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SPF media event on how arrests are made is truly “Over the Top”

It is difficult to take a demonstration organised by the Singapore Police Force at the Home Team Tactical Centre in Mandai for the media seriously when the whole thing appears to be filled with exaggeration and hyperbole. With full protective gear, loudspeakers and flaming torches to boot, I wonder if this is a movie set or a genuine showcase of our preparedness.

One abbreviation comes to mind – "OTT". For the uninitiated, this means "over the top!". I cannot help but remember that when there was a real potential threat in the form of the Little India Riot, the police were woefully inept. Are we preparing for scenarios that will probably never occur instead of training for the more mundane security risks that are much more likely to happen? Shouldn't we get the basics right before trying to create a Hollywood film set?

In trying to ensure that our police force are prepared, we should perhaps get them accustomed and acquainted with a more ordinary scene such as preventing the escalation of a sudden brawl rather than the creation of this spectacle.

In day to day policing, how to deal with brawls and how to question minors properly might be more relevant skills to learn. Lest our readers forget, teenager Benjamin Lee committed suicide shortly after being interrogated by the police amid accusations of unduly harsh methods being used on a mere teen. If this training is what they are put through, I guess I am not surprised. At the end of the day, policing is more about community relations and trust. It isn't about high-intensity imaginary raids.  Get the basics right and the rest will follow.

This event is apparently for the media to see how an arrest is made. I have to question - are all arrests made in this ridiculously over the top manner? Why do we have to be so extreme? This brings to mind another incident where police tapes of how an illegal gambling den was raided were made available to the public. Police officers armed with huge guns stormed what looked like an HDB flat to capture middle-aged men wielding lap tops. The way our police force can command public respect is through building up a relationship of mutual trust and respect. Not by creating a scene from The Terminator.

As a member of the public, I have a genuine curiosity to see what the police actually do day to day. If I wanted to watch a movie, I would go to the cinema.