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From Spears and Whistles to Pistols and Tasers

By Hadi Hafidz (Photos: Public Affairs Department)


Since the days of swords and spears two centuries ago, police equipment has evolved to keep up with the operational needs of an increasingly modern Force. Here is a look at the array of equipment that have helped our Ground Response Force officers carry out their duties effectively through the years.


1800s – 1920s

Snider Carbines rifles


When the police force was first established in the 1800s shortly after Sir Stamford Raffles established a trading post in Singapore, police officers were equipped with Snider Carbines, before they were replaced with Lee-Enfield Rifles. However, these rifles were not uniformly distributed within the Force due to the lack of resources. Interestingly, between 1820 and 1850, some officers were instead given swords and spears for their patrols! In the 1870s, wooden batons were incorporated as part of the patrol equipment, and by the early 1900s, handcuffs were also introduced.



Tubular-shaped metal whistles were introduced in 1884 to draw attention to crimes and to call for backup in the early days of policing. However, these whistles were phased out in 2002 as communications technology improved.


1920s – 1970s

Webley & Scott Mark VI pistol


As rifles were heavy and created too much recoil, they were not optimal for use against armed criminals, who often had pistols and were able to move faster and take faster shots. In response, the police force began equipping its officers with various types of pistols from the 1920s. By 1953, officers were officially armed with Webley & Scott Mark VI pistols.


Very High Frequency Walkie Talkie


In 1945, the first High Frequency walkie-talkie system was introduced with the establishment of the Radio Branch. This was replaced in 1949 with an enhanced Very High Frequency (VHF) walkie-talkie system, as part of a drive to introduce more secure radio equipment in order to reduce infiltration into the communication frequency. This security upgrade reduced the chances of eavesdroppers, which could compromise police operations.


Metallic baton


The 1950s also saw the evolution of the baton. Metal batons replaced wooden batons as they were more effective in dealing with violent yet unarmed persons with non-lethal force.



1970s – 2002

Smith & Wesson revolver


In the 1970s, the lighter and smaller Smith & Wesson revolver was introduced. This enabled officers to react more swiftly against armed criminals. The newer weapon also complemented the switch from the ‘cross draw’ to the ‘quick draw’ style of shooting – which allowed officers to draw their revolvers more quickly.


Personal Radio Service


The Personal Radio Service (PRS) was introduced in the early 1970s to replace the VHF walkie-talkie system. However, the PRS was not fully secure and radio messages sent over the air could easily be monitored and extracted by those with ill intent. So, in the late 1990s, a secure and more robust digital-based encrypted radio network known as the Cubicon Trunked Radio System (CTRS) was introduced.




In 2001, the metallic T-baton was introduced to replace the previous metal baton. It featured a side handle, and the retractable body made it less bulky and more versatile than its predecessor.



2002 – 2017


Taurus M85 revolver


To keep up to date with modern policing needs, in 2002, officers were equipped with the Taurus M85 revolver, which featured a five-chambered cylinder as well as an accompanying speed loader to help reduce the time and effort needed to reload the weapon.


Taser X26


In 2005, the taser, an electroshock weapon that discharges a 50,000 volt charge, was brought in to help officers subdue non-compliant persons in a non-lethal manner.



Ministry of Home Affairs Communications Network 2


In 2015, the ageing CTRS was replaced with the Ministry of Home Affairs Communications Network 2 (MCN2), a walkie-talkie system superior to its predecessor. The MCN2 is equipped with improved network connection capabilities that function well even in crowded areas and allow the streaming of data and videos.



2017 – Present





Due to today’s heightened security climate, officers have been progressively trained with service pistols since 2017. The pistol has an increased ammunition capacity, can be used with different grip methods and features a safety mechanism that prevents it from being triggered by accident.



Straight extendable baton


Two years later, in 2019, the Straight Extendable Baton (SEB) was introduced to replace the T-baton. Unlike the T-baton, the SEB does not have a horizontal handle. This makes it easier for officers to execute handling techniques, as the horizontal handle of the T-baton can be disruptive to an officer’s movement. Along with its increased retractability compared to the T baton, the SEB is even more compact

04 March 2020 @ 8:00 AM
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