Ensuring airport security

Prepared for the unthinkable. ASU officers run through an anti-terrorist training exercise at the new airport

THE security needs of the new airport are well provided for with the recent opening of Hong Kong's lates and most modern police station on site at Chek Lap Kok.

Incorporated within the station is one of the world's most advanced Police Incident Command Centres which will be used in the event of a major crisis. The Airport Security Unit, which has been considerably expanded when compared to the unit a Kai Tak, will also be based there.

Recently OFFBEAT attended an Airport Security Unit anti-terrorist training sessionl. Prepared for any emergency, the ASU's exercise decisively demonstrated to observers that the security needs of the new Hong Kong International Airport are very well provided for indeed.

( More pics in Photo feature )

Visits to Formations by the Senior Directorate

"These visits should not be seen as an extra burden or chore for anybody. That's certainly not the case for me. I want to go out and meet officers -- and I hope the same is true with frontline people"

THE majority of Hong Kong Police officers would dive into Victoria Harbour to rescue a drowning citizen without hesitation, but when it comes to chatting with a Senior Directorate Officer they get cold feet and nervous, tongue-tied and silent. But it doesn't have to be that way.

The newly structured Senior Directorate Officers' monthly visits to formations (which start in July) are intended to be informal, relaxed and friendly. Neither inspections nor fault finding exercises, their objective is to improve communications, allow as many frontline officers as possible to be met, and for Senior Directorate Officer to get a personal feel of frontline activities.

The Senior Directorate is made up of : DCP OPS, DCP MAN, D C&S, D OPS, D PT, D MS and D FAP -- and they won't bite.

Says Director of Operations Ng Ching-kwok: "Senior Director Officers need to be talking to frontline officers a lot more -- keeping our ears open, listening to what people have to say, and using the opportunity to explain PHQ's viewpoint on issues and policies. That's what these visits are all about -- to enhance communication top down and bottom up.

"It is part of our responsibility to go out and see, talk and listen to people at various levels -- particularly frontline officers. We want to go. The intention is to get honest, from-the-heart feedback -- an opportunity to have a meaningful chat about whatever. It should be a very relaxed affair, with people feeling comfortable. Although these visits have been perceived to be rather formal, they're not meant to be."

Formations will be visited according to an annual schedule which operates on a two-year cycle. A monthly visit programme published 30 days in advance of an outing indicates formations to be visited, the identity of the Senior Directorate Officer (SDO) conducting the visit, and the time each visit starts.

Visits (lasting about two hours) will primarily be to a formation's scheduled event or function, as suggested by the District Commander and selected by the visiting SDO. It is solely up to the formations being visited to select events or functions that they would like an SDO to participate in or view such as a District or Divisional Commander's conference, programme management meetings, training days. Work Improvement Teams, or formation social events like a curry lunch, Baai Kwan Taai, sports day, etc.

Where a formation makes no such suggestions, visits may be to an area of interest nominated by the visiting SDO, or a general unstructured tour of the formation in accordance with the desires of the Senior Directorate Officer.

Says D OPS Ng Ching-Kwok: "These visits aren't 'arrangements'. Rather they are meetings that are meant to be quite relaxed and in a working environment that frontline officers are accustomed to, like in a report room -- provided that at that particular time it isn't too busy because people will feel the pressure of work and be unable to have a meaningful chat.

"Another ideal situation for perhaps a more focused chat about work matters would be a training day session. At that particular forum you get a lot of frontline officers in an environment in which they feel there is time available for this sort of thing. They're there to talk and feel relaxed."

During a visit emphasis will be placed on walking around the formation and unceremoniously speaking with officers who are performing their daily duties." Hopefully the way we are going about these visits now will help people feel relaxed enough to view us not so much as a particular senior officer, but as another member of the Force -- someone who is working in Police Headquarters and coming to pay a visit. No more no less," says Mr Ng.

No lists of potential questions are to be prepared or forwarded to the visiting SDO, nor are major Formation Commanders required to accompany an SDO during a visit.

"Personally, I'd like to hear spontaneous questions -- not prepared ones," says Mr Ng. "Officers should say to themselves, 'Yes, that's something I'd really like to ask or say to one of the SDOs' . I would like to see these occasions (and that's the reason we are making some changes) not stage-managed. It was never meant to be that way."

If an SDO cannot answer a question at the time, a written reply will be given to the formation within two weeks of the visit.

"These visits should not be seen as an extra burden or chore for anybody. That's certainly not the case for me. I want to go out and meet officers -- and I hope the same is true with frontline people," says Mr Ng."But it takes two to communicate."

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