Seizing an opportunity, trusting fellow cops: how police responded to a knife-wielding man in Yishun



While the police officers took on Faizal, Full-Time National Serviceman (NSF) Corporal (Cpl) Yang Kai Siang was on his way to work at Ang Mo Kio South Neighborhood Police Center when he saw the commotion.

He was initially confused about the situation. Then he saw Sergeant 3 Syarhan grab the knife carrier from behind.

“I quickly joined the other officers to pin the man down. It wasn’t easy because he was struggling and uncooperative,” said Cpl Yang, who joined the police force about a year ago.

The 19-year-old served as a Ground Response Force officer for about three months. He added that he was confident in his own training in unarmed tactics, which helped him deal with the situation.

Sgt 3 Syarhan, who is part of the Woodlands Police Division’s Emergency Response Team, said his role was to observe the perpetrator from behind and see when they could apprehend him.

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“The moment I made an attempt to tackle the man was when he was distracted and focused on my colleagues. That’s when I knew this was the chance to pull in and do the takedown,” he added.

The victim then fell to the ground while police officers restrained and disarmed the man.

When asked if he would have done anything different, Sergeant 3 Syarhan replied that he would have done so if the perpetrator was holding a gun or had attacked police officers with the knife.

ASP Chew added that the officers’ biggest challenge was identifying the opportunity to take the man down.

“It’s potentially a life-and-death situation in this kind of situation, so the stakes are high,” he added. “You have to identify the opportunity, you have to be fully committed to it and, of course, you have to rely on your colleagues around you.”

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The officers also answered questions about video footage of the incident circulating online.

Sergeant 3 Syarhan said his mother recognized his voice from the footage and asked him how he was, but normally he wouldn’t tell his family what he does on a daily basis.

ASP Chew’s wife was heavily pregnant at the time and “deeply concerned” when he told her about the incident. She gave birth to their first child, a boy, on Thursday.

“Ultimately, I think she knows there’s a certain risk involved in what I do,” he added. “She’s always supported me because she knows I’m trying to do the right thing.”

Many of ASP Chew’s friends also recognized him and contacted him. “I was quite touched by all the messages of support and people checking on me to make sure everything was okay,” he said.

When asked if being filmed by members of the public affected the way officers work, SI Tan said it was “normal” for him.

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ASP Chew, who was filmed talking to the perpetrator and appearing to know him, said officers attended multiple calls and incidents just like him.

“Inevitably, some people are more recognizable and familiar than others,” he added.

A police spokesperson said earlier that the perpetrator was known to officers in the area, but was not wanted by the authorities.

ASP Chew said he believes that as long as they are “doing the right things”, they have nothing to worry about.

“Of course there will always be people who criticize. There will be people asking why we didn’t do this? Why didn’t we do that?” he added.

“But at the end of the day, if we know why we did what we did and our conscience is clear, we really have nothing to worry about.”



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