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May 14, 2014

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125 SWAT teams on city streets to ensure security at Asian summit

SWAT teams will be deployed in critical downtown areas, including busy streets, scenic spots and transportation hubs, to provide added security during next week’s Asian regional summit in Shanghai.

The city’s police have 125 SWAT teams with up to 10 officers in each, capable of responding fully armed and at speed to any emergency situation.

“Our team members, all aged under 50 and in good health, come from different departments,” said Huangpu District police official Zhu Liang, where there are 15 teams. “Before they joined this group, they received two weeks of special training in the use of firearms and other equipment used to deal with emergencies.”

Shanghai’s SWAT teams will be dispatched to popular attractions such as the Bund and Yuyuan Garden and crowded shopping areas on Nanjing Road E.

On Huaihai Road M. yesterday, the team leader of one of the Huangpu teams showed Shanghai Daily some of equipment available for use in an emergency.

“Two of us are carrying guns,” said Gui Min, the team leader. “We all have bulletproof vests, helmets, shields, fire extinguishers and even a fire blanket for attacks, fires, accidents or other incidents.”

He said the teams are ready to reach incidents in their area within three minutes of receiving a call.

The SWAT teams will operate in two shifts, one starting at 9am and the other at 2pm. But team members will always be on call.

“In a sense, you could say, we have no weekends, no holidays,” Gui said. “I spend very little time with my family.”

He said risk and danger was part of the job.

“I never know what we will encounter the next moment,” he said. “If I get injured, I would never tell my family. I really don’t want them to worry about my job.”

Chen Xiaoyan, the only female team leader among the 15 groups, said the job could be exhausting.

“But I’m happy to participate in the effort to ensure public safety and security,” Chen said. “Team spirit is essential in this job.”

The two-day Shanghai Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia begins on Tuesday.

China has experienced an increase in violent public attacks in recent years.

Last October a jeep crashed into a crowd in Tian’anmen Square in Beijing, killing two people.

There have been subsequent attacks at railway stations in Kunming and Urumqi cities in the past few months.

Major Chinese cities, including Shanghai, have been stepping up security and putting armed patrols on the streets following the terrorist attacks.

Police in Guiyang, capital of southwest China’s Guizhou Province, have been equipped with guns and protective devices and patrol the city round the clock.

Emergency vehicles are stationed in the city’s main areas, and military forces and special police take part in joint patrols. Armed patrol teams have been deployed at the city’s railway station, bus station and airport.

On Monday, Beijing police deployed 150 armed patrol vehicles on the capital’s streets.

A team of weapons instructors has been sent to northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to help police there better handle terrorist situations, the Ministry of Public Security said yesterday.

The 30-strong team is part of a three-month program launched last month to train grassroots police officers in using arms.

The ministry said that it hoped the team of instructors would help improve local police’s capabilities in “dealing with terrorist offences, resolutely suppressing terrorists’ rampant momentum, and safeguarding people’s security.”


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