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ICA officers to take over from police as first responders to security incidents at Woodlands, Tuas checkpoints

SINGAPORE — Specially trained officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) will take over from the Singapore Police Force as first responders to all security incidents at Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints from Jan 3, 2023.

A practice operation held by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, where its officers have to engage "gunmen" at a checkpoint.

A practice operation held by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, where its officers have to engage "gunmen" at a checkpoint.

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  • The ICA will take over from the SPF as first responders to all security incidents at the Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints from Jan 3, 2023
  • More than 300 ICA officers have been trained in these functions
  • The ICA also showcased its new technological capabilities during an exercise on Wednesday (Nov 16)

SINGAPORE — Specially trained officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) will take over from the Singapore Police Force as first responders to all security incidents at Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints from Jan 3, 2023.

The ICA had already taken over this "protective security" role at Singapore's sea checkpoints in 2018. Security functions at the airport checkpoints will remain under the control of the SPF.

Ahead of the move to expand the role to land checkpoints, more than 300 ICA officers stationed at the land checkpoints have undergone protective security training to prepare them, ICA said in a press release on Wednesday (Nov 16).

These officers were trained in tactical movement for security incidents, as well as in interview and search techniques. 

They also underwent on-the-job training with their police counterparts, with periodic refresher training sessions to ensure officers’ skillsets are up to date. 

In a press release on Wednesday, the ICA said it has been preparing for this change for the past few years.

“The taking over of the protective security functions is the culmination of the transformation of ICA’s role in border security at the land checkpoints.”

The taking over of the protective security functions is the culmination of the transformation of ICA’s role in border security at the land checkpoints.
Immigration and Checkpoints Authority

“It would enable ICA to achieve greater operational coordination and provide clearer lines of responsibility and command and control in border security incidents,” it added.

To showcase these new capabilities and operational readiness, over 200 personnel from the ICA, the police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) participated in a simulated security incident, in an exercise on Wednesday morning.

The exercise, observed by Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam, depicted coordinated active shooters at Tuas Checkpoint. Multiple casualties and injuries to both officers and travellers were part of the fictional scenario.

In a practice scenario held on Nov 16, 2022, a gunman acts out a shooting at the arrival car zone of Tuas Checkpoint.

In the scenario, the ICA’s First Response Team then moved in to engage the gunmen, followed by the Singapore Police Force's Ground Response Forces, Emergency Response Team and Armed Strike Teams from the Gurkha Contingent.

At a practice exercise on Nov 16, 2022, the First Response Team of the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority can be seen gearing up to engage "gunmen" at Tuas Checkpoint.

Then, once the area was deemed secure in the fictional scenario, SCDF’s emergency responders conducted rescue and evacuation of the casualties.

WORKING MORE EFFICIENTLY WITH NEW TECH

In addition to taking over protective security functions at the land checkpoints, the ICA has also been using new technology to more efficiently respond to security incidents.

Collaborating with the Defence Science and Technology Agency and the Home Team Science and Technology Agency, their integrated operations centres at both land checkpoints have been equipped with tools to enable officers to work more efficiently.

First made fully operational in February this year, the centres are able to identify anomalies such as unattended baggage, abandoned vehicles and intrusion attempts in real-time, by using video analytics. 

Previously, officers depended on manually monitored closed-circuit televisions and patrolling on-the-ground to detect anomalies. They also had to manually retrieve camera feeds for follow-ups on those anomalies.

Additionally, ground commanders can now track and communicate with the first respondents, also known as First Response Team officers more easily.  

Whereas ground commanders previously had to rely on voice communications, all First Response Team officers are equipped with a mobile device and body camera to provide situational updates, such as texts, images and even livestreams to the operations centres.

ICA Land Domain Commander Chua Tuan Meng said: “ICA will continue to train more officers in protective security functions and refine our capabilities to keep Singapore’s borders safe and secure.”

Related topics

ICA Tuas checkpoint security police

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