Tighter vehicle checks; more crash-proof barriers, officers deployed for Shangri-La Dialogue

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SINGAPORE: Tighter vehicle checks and the use of more crash-proof barriers were among the stepped-up security measures rolled out at the 16th Shangri-La Dialogue which concluded on Sunday (Jun 4).

In an exclusive interview, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) told Channel NewsAsia that its plans – which took about a year to materialise – were constantly fine-tuned to keep pace with the changing security landscape.

On Thursday (Jun 1), the Home Affairs Ministry released a terrorism threat assessment report, citing radicalised individuals as a “grave security concern” as they could carry out knife and vehicular attacks.

Police said they deployed the highest number of security officers for this year’s dialogue.

The security team, led by the SPF, was supported by agencies like the Singapore Armed Forces, the Singapore Civil Defence Force and auxiliary police officers.

SPF also worked closely with its foreign counterparts, Shangri-La hotel’s security team, as well as the managements of condominiums in the vicinity.

SECURING THE VICINITY 

The police set up more vehicular checkpoints and crash-proof barriers around the hotel for this year’s event.

They also used devices like the GID-3, which can detect traces of chemical warfare agents in the air. The device sounds an alarm when it picks up the presence of such chemical elements, police said.

Police also used handheld devices which are capable of detecting traces of explosives.

CHECKS FOR HEAVY VEHICLES

To ensure that officers could better keep track of heavy vehicles like delivery trucks approaching the venue, police worked closely with Shangri-La Hotel to ensure that such vehicles were limited to certain access points.

Officers were also informed of certain details pertaining to the heavy vehicles, such as the licence plate number and the goods they carried.

To clear vehicles at checkpoints, officers employed a strategy known as “batch releasing”, which allows only a few vehicles to pass through an area at any one time, thus preventing drivers from speeding up as they might be blocked by vehicles in front of them.

For an added layer of security, heavily armed elite officers were also stationed in front of crash-proof barriers.

ENHANCING INDOOR SECURITY 

In addition, security teams ensured that all entry and exit points to the hotel were guarded and visitors to the conference zone were subjected to security checks. 

A Singapore policeman from the Gurkhas contingent stands guard outside the hotel at the Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) during the Shangri-La Dialogue summit in Singapore. (Photo: AFP/ Roslan Rahman) 

Police said that even hotel guests could have been checked, if they were assessed to be suspicious.

They worked closely with the hotel’s security teams and tapped their CCTV systems to step up surveillance. Hotel staff were also trained to react to various scenarios, including mass evacuations.

STAYING ALERT 

Officers were given a break once every few hours so that they could remain focused and alert when on duty. On top of snacks and drinks, leg massage machines were also provided to officers at a makeshift rest area in the hotel – measures that ensured that the welfare of officers were well taken care of. 

Police said that, to keep their officers on their toes, they were constantly tested for their response during their deployment. This allowed team leaders to assess their security officers’ skills and ensured that they kept their minds active while they were deployed.

Wrapping up the Shangri-La Dialogue, Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen said he appreciated Singapore’s Home Team and their work during the event. 

“It’s gone on so smoothly but the efforts by the police have been enormous and they’ve kept us safe and at no point did we feel unsafe,” Dr Ng said.

“So let me thank our Home Team and our men and women in uniform for doing their jobs.”

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