Riot police swap blue berets for red hats

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 December, 2007, 12:00am

Officers shed tough-guy image for morning of seasonal fund-raising

It is common for the public to perceive the Police Tactical Unit as a group of tough guys with guns and shields, but they can act as Santa Claus as well - serving the city with care.

On December 14, the unit - also known as the 'blue berets' or simply the riot police - held its Christmas fund-raising carnival at its headquarters in Fanling.

The 250 participants included members from four branches: PTU H Company, Foxtrot Company, Quick Reaction Force of New Territories North Region (QRF) and PTU Headquarters.

Each team donated HK$2,500 for admission.

During the half-day event, members could buy goods at low prices in a jumble sale, while enjoying a series of team games.

The day started with the Saxon Pull - eight officers from each unit hauling a 9.5-tonne Saxon armoured vehicle across the training field.

This arduous task was followed by five other games, including the Unit Commanders' Birthday.

To become the champion, the head of each unit had to eat a chocolate birthday cake without using his hands.

When the game began, the four commanders appeared to enjoy the cakes, but by the time they had eaten half, all decorum had vanished and the competitors' faces were covered in cream and chocolate topping. They also needed plenty of water to wash down the cakes.

No contestant managed to eat a whole cake, so the judges weighed the remaining pieces with the Quick Reaction Force's representative being named the winner.

Runner-up Mike Armstrong, superintendent of PTU Foxtrot Company, found the task difficult.

'It was absolutely terrible. The cream cake is not my favourite at all,' he said, vowing he would never do it again.

But winning the game was not the issue. At the end of the games, the lowest-ranked team donated HK$500, and the champions gave HK$200.

Although the carnival contrasted with the teams' rigorous instruction programme, Commandant Bill Suen Kwai-leung said it was part of the training.

'Through these interesting activities, members can build up team spirit, as well as help people in need,' he said.

The carnival ended with an auction and barbecue before training resumed in the afternoon.

'It was challenging to organise the event while we had to receive training at the same time,' said Jim Chim Tak-wing, chief inspector of PTU Foxtrot Company and chairman of the carnival co-ordinating team.

'But I am very happy because we can contribute to society with our efforts. After all, we're a caring force.'

It was the third time the unit had supported Operation Santa Claus, and it raised HK$96,720.