Bomb hoaxes and undercover inspections: Changi Airport's police on the unpredictable nature of their job

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SINGAPORE: In November last year, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Jerry Tan found himself dealing with a bomb threat on an aircraft about to land at Changi Airport.

The information about the alleged bomb came from “an unknown source, so that reduced the credibility of it”, said the 33-year-old patrol team leader in the Airport Police Division.

Nevertheless, the police had to ensure that aviation security was not compromised. ASP Tan’s team was dispatched, and immediately started working with different airport agencies to rule out the possibility of a bomb on board.

Taking command of the situation, ASP Tan had no time for fear as he focused on making sure that his team performed the necessary procedures and kept various stakeholders informed.

“After the aircraft was parked, we had to manage the scene, coordinate the rescreening of passengers, baggage and cargo, search the aircraft for the bomb, as well as control the movement of people into the aircraft and conduct interviews with witnesses,” he said.

It took three to four hours in total to contain the situation and rule out the bomb threat, from the time that police received the tip-off before the plane’s arrival.

Assistant Superintendent of Police Jerry Tan (right) patrolling Changi Airport with his partner. (Photo: CNA/Marcus Mark Ramos)

That bomb hoax remains one of the most memorable incidents in ASP Tan’s time with the Airport Police Division, which is responsible for the security of not just Changi Airport, but also Jewel, Seletar Airport, Changi Airfreight Centre and the Airport Logistics Park of Singapore.

Aside from maintaining law and order, the division performs the civil aviation security functions required of Singapore as a contracting state in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

In an interview with CNA, officers from the...

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