For this series, the Psychological Services Group will invite three Force members to share their psychological wisdom of their experiences of public event operations.
ACP OPS and Public Events
In this issue, we have Assistant Commissioner (Operations) Jacob Cheung Tak-keung sharing his experience with us. Jacob had ample experience in coordination and preparation for public event operations whilst working as Senior Superintendent (Operations) in Hong Kong Island Region, Deputy Regional Commander Hong Kong Island, and Commandant of Police Tactical Unit. He also had frequent communication with the media on arrangements of the operations while working in Police Public Relations Branch.
Jacob agreed that public event operations could be quite stressful to both management and frontline officers. The stress could stem from the unpredictable nature of an operation, which brought time constraint for pre-operation internal communication. Also, the huge rise in the numbers of these events and the organisations involved indicated that the Force had to meet more and different expectations. Prolonged large-scale operations created physical stress for officers and provocations by individuals' could also bring emotional stress.
Jacob's Psychological Gear
Jacob said teamwork was a big help for him, adding that he treasured communication among officers because it enabled him to view things from different perspectives. With every officer working for the same goal, team spirit would come into play for overcoming challenges.
Jacob always reminds himself of the significance of public event operations. The significance is what he swore in the former Police Training School - maintaining law and order. This mission is particularly important for such operations, enabling the public to take part in the events in a safe and peaceful situation. At the same time, another challenge of the operations is safeguarding the rights and freedom of the people not participating in the events.
Satisfaction and pride
For Jacob, public recognition of police work has brought him job satisfaction and pride. He sees the customer satisfaction survey on the performance of the Force and letters from citizens as a great encouragement for him. He has no doubt that the majority of Hong Kong citizens are behind the Force. From his own experience, he also noticed that a majority of protestors were peaceful. He always reminded himself to remain open-minded and empathetic towards protestors and the media so that mutual understanding and communication would help reaching consensuses.
Jacob said he would try his best to enhance the morale of officers involved in the operations. For example, he would coordinate better pre-operation preparation work, including internal and external communications. He would remind commanders to give concise and clear operational goals to officers. He stressed that it was essential to establish a good system of manpower deployment, provide theme-based training and simulation exercise on operations, pre-operation briefing, post-operation debriefing, and sharing sessions. It was equally important to enhance officers' psychological competency.
Jacob has demonstrated the four elements of T.A.K.E. wisdom (T- Treat your body, A- Appreciate your role, K- Know your people and E- Endure hard feelings) in public event operations, especially A and K. Let us build up empathy to enhance both internal and external communications, and strive for excellence in all that we do.