Almost 10 per cent of the 28,000-strong police force gathered yesterday as units from across the city took part in what is understood to have been the second major exercise to prepare for the Occupy Central civil disobedience campaign.
Some 2,600 officers received training at the Police College in Wong Chuk Hang, next to Ocean Park, on how to remove people from a sit-in and how to process the arrests, a police source familiar with the matter said. Liaison with media was described as a "key area" of the training, he said.
The arrangements were similar to the first major exercise, said to have involved about 1,600 officers in late June. Neither drill was announced to the media. This time, training covered more about arrestees' rights, such as ensuring access to food and lawyers, following the July 2 sit-in on Chater Road, the source said.
"Shame on police," 600 officers acting as mock protesters chanted as songs favoured by social activists played in the background. Commissioner of Police Andy Tsang Wai-hung, believed to have been absent from the first drill, turned up to "show his support", the source said.
Photographers trying to capture the goings-on from 100 metres away saw an officer apparently make a gun gesture with his hands, "aiming" at them.
A police spokeswoman said the force was investigating whether the officer's behaviour was appropriate and would treat any breach of rules seriously.
In response to queries about the exercise, a spokeswoman said only that the force trained regularly to prepare officers for public order events.
Occupy organisers have threatened to block streets in Central should the official framework for the 2017 chief executive election not live up to international standards of universal suffrage.
Some moderate pan-democrats including Civic Party chairwoman Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, former Democratic Party lawmaker Cheung Man-kwong and chairman of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood Bruce Liu Sing-lee have been invited to attend a meeting with senior Beijing officials in Shenzhen on Friday.