Tear gas, pepper spray in full swing at Hong Kong police riot drill to prepare for possible polls violence
An intensive two-day exercise was conducted Monday, while online monitoring of localists’ Facebook and forum pages is also being done
Tear gas canisters were fired and pepper spray was used to disperse mock protesters during a security drill by police yesterday to prepare for possible chaos during this Sunday’s Legislative Council elections.
Anti-riot weapons were in full use at the Police Tactical Unit training ground in Fanling, as ‘protesters’ wearing face masks and sunglasses marched towards a police cordon hurling mock bricks, the Post learned.
During a simulated Mong Kok riot sequence, officers in anti-riot gear fought fire with portable extinguishers and removed mock trouble-makers who occupied a road and set fire to items.
In the exercise which ended at 5.30pm yesterday, officers from the elite “blue team” were also deployed to capture ringleaders and rescue colleagues who were under attack. The team comprises officers from the force’s counter-terrorism division and airport security unit.
In all, more than 1,000 officers participated in the training session, which saw Deputy Commissioner of Police Alfred Chau Kwok-leung and Director of Operations Lau Yip-shing turn up to show their support.
“New tactics on how to disperse a large crowd on a busy street and how to separate and capture ringleaders were tested during the drill,” one source said.
He said officers also received training on how to remove people from a sit-in protest and how to process the arrests.
Yesterday was the second day of the two-day security drill amid worries radical localists may disrupt the polls on Sunday.
According to police, the force conducts regular training exercises to enable officers to execute duties in a professional and efficient manner.
The drill follows a report by the Post last week that at least 5,000 police officers would be mobilised on Sunday.
About two officers will be posted at each polling station and traffic policemen will be deployed to escort the delivery of ballot boxes to the central counting station at the AsiaWorld-Expo near the airport.
Another source said initial assessment showed the risk level for violence during the election period was not high. The force is still collecting intelligence to see if anyone planned to cause trouble.
It is understood police are concerned radical groups might disrupt the elections over the disqualification of some localist candidates.
Officers from the force’s crime wing and Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau at the Wan Chai headquarters have been deployed to monitor online forums and Facebook pages run by localist groups.
Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said on Monday: “We have operation plans in place as well as sufficient officers on duty so that if there is any situation that needs to be dealt with, it can be dealt with swiftly and in an orderly manner”.