CNB Special Task Force: Mummy wears a bullet-proof vest : Page 3 of 3

CNB Special Task Force: Mummy wears a bullet-proof vest
COVERT: SSG Tini rides a bike to tail a target discreetly while SSG Johnny follows a suspect in a nondescript car.

Striking hard & fast

Thirty seconds flat.

That's the time Special Task Force (STF) officers are expected to take to make a forced entry into a flat.

The quicker they breach a drug syndicate's hideout, the better the chances of arresting the suspects red-handed and without incident.

Prior to executing the arrests, the covert operators make their assessments of the target.

Jason, a senior officer-in-charge of the STF, said: "They (STF officers) will spy on the unit itself to learn what kinds of doors and gates (are used by the suspects)."

The strike team will then select the most suitable tools for the job. These include heavy-duty cutting tools, portable door rams and hydraulic spreaders. A hydraulic door opener can break a standard HDB flat door in less than seven seconds.

A normal scenario involves one STF officer cutting the lock on a gate while the other gets ready to ram open the door.

Added Jason, 39: "That's why we emphasise forced entry training, to ensure that (the officers) can break in fast enough before the evidence is disposed."

While success is measured by the amount of drugs confiscated, sometimes the weapons found in these hideouts can be alarming.

Luckily, most traffickers have been caught by surprise.

SSG Tini described previous operations: "As we went in, they had no chance to take out the weapons. During searches, we have recovered stun guns, samurai swords, knives, knuckle dusters, batons and even a Rottweiler."

But the officers are prepared for trouble. For raids on homes, each officer's 6kg load of personal equipment consists of a stab- and bullet-proof vest, slash-proof gloves and sleeves, a pair of handcuffs, goggles and an extendable baton with a sharp tip for breaking windows.

They also each carry a 9mm pistol with a 13-round magazine.

At the end of the day, safety is paramount.

Jason said: "For successful operations, we look at the arrest of the key players, the (drug) seizures. And I will always tell them (the officers) that these are not the main factors. Their personal safety and that of the public and even the accused persons (are equally important). No one should be injured."

Drug situation by the numbers

$4.7m

The value of drugs seized from January to June this year. This is 50 per cent less than the value of drugs seized in the same period last year.

$20.5m

The value of drugs seized by CNB in 2013.

1,524

The total number of drug abusers arrested in the first half of this year, which is about a 20 per cent drop from the same period last year.

What it takes to be in STF

Any Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officer can apply to join the Special Task Force.

However, there is a selection phase to identify team players who are physically and mentally fitter.

Candidates must get at least a Silver award - the minimum requirement - for their Individual Physical Proficiency Test and must be marksmen in handling their sidearms.

Selected candidates go through on-the-job training, which includes shooting, driving, surveillance techniques, methods of entry and unarmed and close-quarter combat, among other skills required for their new role.

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