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June 13, 2014

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Home » City specials » Hangzhou

Police Tactical Unit strengthens sense of safety

HANGZHOU has beefed up security patrols and provided special equipment to tactical units in response to the recent terrorist attacks in Kunming and Urumqi.

The Hangzhou Police Tactical Unit is at the forefront of security in the city. The unit vows it can reach the scene of an emergency within five minutes regardless of where it occurs.

The unit’s total 700 SWAT (special weapons and tactics) officers are primarily responsible for internal security, riot control, anti-crime operations, disaster response and confronting terrorist attacks.

Every hour, there are 120 SWAT officers patrolling the city. In busy areas like West Lake, Wulin Square and Wushan Square patrol cars can be stationed all day when needed.

According to government statistics, robberies dropped 37 percent and moped thefts decreased 14 percent last year in large part due to the work of the PTU. The unit has brought a stronger sense of safety to locals since its establishment in November 2011.

PTU officers yesterday rescued a female hostage who was kidnapped at knifepoint at a fruit store at the intersection of Huimin and Ding’an roads.

Officers arrived on the scene within two minutes. The attacker was subdued within 10 minutes while the woman only sustained a minor leg injury.

The PTU said the attacker had been released from a drug rehabilitation center in Sichuan Province three days before the incident. He held the woman for 100,000 yuan (US$1,606) ransom.

The PTU added the case was still being investigated.

The Hangzhou Public Security Bureau built the Chinese mainland’s first PTU by drawing on the experience of Hong Kong, where it has acted since 1958 as a paramilitary unit providing an immediate response to any emergency.

Hangzhou PTU officers wear a beret and a different uniform than other police officers. Their vehicles are painted with three Chinese characters »ú¶¯¶Ó (Police Tactical Unit).

PTU officers are also better equipped. Their vehicles include nearly 30 devices that may be needed in emergencies.

On May 22, 31 people were killed and 94 injured in a terrorist attack in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

On March 1, terrorists killed 29 people and injured 143 others in a slashing and stabbing attack at Kunming’s railway station in Yunnan Province.

“The terrorist attacks in Kunming and Urumuqi gave us some important lessons,” said Zhang Liang, the PTU’s head officer. “We have adjusted our daily training and redeployed our units. Our SWAT officers must bear in mind that such attacks can occur in Hangzhou, therefore they should not relax vigilance for one second.”

Locations with large flows of people including Hangzhou Railway Station and Hangzhou East Railway Station are listed as key targets to protect.

“Once an emergency takes place, our nearest patrolling vehicles will head for the scene via different routes. Meanwhile, traffic police will help clear the roads to make way for us,” said Zhang, when asked how they could arrive within five minutes of an emergency given the city’s notorious traffic congestion.

He also said the PTU is collaborating well with the city’s other police departments.

Last July, the PTU successfully hunted down a gang who were fleeing along Zhonghe Elevated Road. SWAT officers intercepted the gang’s car within five minutes, broke the car window, nabbed the criminals and seized the stolen goods. People who witnessed the scene posted photos on weibo, causing a stir in Hangzhou.

The Hangzhou Public Security Bureau said the PTU would provide an excellent training opportunity for new cops, who have to spend one year in training before they are allocated to a specific post. Some may become a PTU officer while others are likely be assigned to other police departments.

“Their performance in the PTU decides their future job assignment to some degree,” Zhang said.

Yu Lei, a 37-year-old woman with a PhD in guided missile technology, has just begun her PTU training.

“I don’t think it’s a waste of my doctoral degree because being a policewoman has been my dream since childhood,” she said. “My father is a policeman in my hometown Jinhua (located in the middle of Zhejiang Province), and he has had a great influence on my life.”


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