One second can make a difference
"One minute's performance on the stage takes ten years' meticulous practice". This means that a performer has made tons of painstaking effort before going on the stage. However, sometimes one minute is way too long in discharging police duties. Confronted by eventualities, we must react decisively in this merest fraction of a second. The consequences depend heavily on the training we have received and, in particular, the ability to master and apply tactical skills. In reality, changes within this merest fraction of a second may adversely affect our whole life.
To us, what does one second actually mean? For Station Sergeant Bell, who is a Firearms and Tactics Instructor in the Weapons Training Division of Police College and has served the Special Duties Unit and the Airport Security Unit for a total of 19 years, has good experience of this one second. Bell always reminds trainees in Firearms and Tactics Training classes: "It might take one second to die but this would leave your kin with scars that will never heal."
Twenty-one years ago, Bell lost a "batch-mate" and a bosom friend Police Constable (PC) Sham Hoi-kit who was gunned down whilst chasing an armed robber to Mei Foo Sun Chuen when he was attached to the Enforcement & Control Division of Traffic, New Territories. Bell recalled with a heavy heart: "Everyone who knew Kit Chai was heartbroken, but not as much as his mother who brought him up with much hardship."
Kit Chai was the only child and his father passed away when he was only three. Kit Chai's mother took two jobs a day to make ends meet. For 23 years, the mother and son lived a humble life. They saw some gradual improvement in their life after Kit Chai joined the Force. Who would have known a mother lost her beloved son just in one second. "Kit Chai was a good son. As a police cadet, whenever he received pocket money from the Police Cadet School, he gave one hundred dollars to his mother and kept the other hundred for himself."
On April 8, 1990 PC Sham was about to finish anti-speeding roadblock duties when he spotted a taxi involved in a robbery case. He immediately jumped onto his motorcycle and chased after the taxi until it stopped underneath the Lai Chi Kok Flyover due to traffic jam. Upon PC Sham's approach, a man put up his hands pretending to surrender. When he took arrest action, the man suddenly put up a struggle and attempted to snatch his revolver. After a fierce struggle, both PC Sham and the man received fatal gunshot wounds.
Battle veteran Bell heaved a sigh when he talked about this heartbreaking incident. Slowly taking a sip of tea to ease off his rising tone, he offered his view: "As a police officer, it's our bounden duty to arrest lawbreakers. However, before taking such action, we must consider whether or not there is sufficient tactical protection."
Bell pointed out that if an officer had to take arrest action, he must bear in mind he was at great risk. Criminals would never give up unless they realise there is absolutely no chance to run away.
When to make arrest? What precautions should be taken under different circumstances? How to choose an appropriate place that is safe enough to take such action? Is it necessary to set up a prisoner-handling zone? Is there sufficient backup? These are the factors that an officer must consider for his safety as well as that of other people and even the suspect.
"Freeze! Raise your hands. Lie down slowly, with your face on the ground. Don't ever move." Bell was demonstrating how to order a suspect to lie on the ground. With one hand on the butt of his revolver, Bell went to a safe position behind the suspect and then handcuffed him after making sure that the suspect was under control and was unable to put up any struggle at all.
Bell pointed out that the Police College provided comprehensive tactical training to enhance the professional capability of every officer so that he could make a decisive judgment within one second in different situations. His maxim for Yung Shu Tau is: "Make good use of the tactical skills that you have learned and avoid a tragedy like that of Kit Chai."
Force members wishing to share their stories in Yung Shu Tau may email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Editor's note: The officer who told this story is SSGT Cheng Man-chung from Police College's Weapons Training Division)
|<<Back to News>> <<Back to Top>>|