Recently, a video of a 60-year-old security officer being punched at Roxy Square carpark after an argument regarding directions out of the building went viral. Due to this incident, the discussion of whether these officers should be armed was brought up again. Despite countless of private security officers being physically or verbally abused in Singapore, many of our security industry leaders are still not in the favour of these officers being armed with weapons.
President of Security Association Singapore (ASA), Raj Joshua Thomas thinks that arming officers can create more problems instead, such as the misuse or careless handling of the weapons. Offensive weapons like batons were never meant as a form of self-defence in the first place and equipping security officers with these weapons would only increase tension between him and the opponent.
The job of security officers is not to fight, but to inform the police when a situation gets out of hand and thus, Mr Robert Wiener, President of the Association of Certified Security Agencies (ACSA) feels that weapons are not essential.
Besides, officers are already obligated to participate in several courses within their job requirements, and equipping them with weapons would mean more rules, paperwork and training, as tasers and batons are regulated items. With a large percentage of the security industry being workers who are slightly older, picking up weapon-handling skills will not be a breeze and might end up dissuading workers to join the industry.
The key underlying problem of this issue is the fact that security officers are not respected enough. In a poll done by Union of Security Employees (USE), 67% of officers stated that they had been scolded or sworn at during work, and 6% reported they had been physically assaulted. However, most of these incidents go unreported.
As the nature of the job requires security officers to come in contact with members of the public all the time, “they never know when they might encounter an unreasonable person.” says Mr Zainal, assistant secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).
Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam has declared that public service workers only include officers whose jobs serve the general public, and not just patrons of private establishments and would not be provided legal protection under the Protection from Harassment Act (Poha).
Yet, most of these officers work under a private establishment and thus do not receive additional protection under Poha. In response to this, Mr Zainal retorted that if private security officers can be regarded as as public service workers, it would then send a clearer message.”The work they do is a very important part of the security landscape and they must be offered the same added protection,” he said. This is true as if any building of Singapore were known to be attacked, be it at a public or private place, it would create social unrest and affect public confidence as a whole.
What do you think, would arming security officers with weapons help to make Singapore a safer place or would it create more problems?