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September 23, 2017

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Taipei SWAT officers patrol MRT in wake of fatal stabbing incident

The Taipei City Police Department Special Weapons And Tactics Division (TCPD SWAT, 臺北市政府警察局刑事警察大隊) joined the security patrols on the Taipei MRT.

Following the Taipei Metro stabbing spree last Wednesday, the accumulative security efforts from Taipei City, New Taipei City and the National Police Agency — who dispatched 80 Special Police officers — sought to improve security and strengthen passenger confidence.

The TCPD SWAT also joined in on the security efforts Sunday afternoon, when SWAT officers were spotted carrying Heckler & Koch MP5 9mm submachine guns. A representative of TCPD stated that officers are included as this is an unusual time for commuters in both cities. The SWAT officers will carry out patrols as the main objective of their duties for some time before a review on the continued officers' services will be conducted.

Commuters' reactions toward SWAT officers are mixed, with one passenger quoted as saying that he felt safer with the addition of the officers patrolling the metro, while another said that she felt stressed by the officers' presence.

Academic Questions SWAT Necessity

Outspoken Professor Lee Mau-sheng (李茂生) of the College of Law at National Taiwan University stated on social media that the addition of SWAT officers could lead to greater concerns over security. Lee's Facebook page captured the professor's concern with a post accusing the government of madness should an MP5 be fired out of spite or a malfunction. Bullets are very likely to hurt or kill passengers in a crowded space, wrote Lee, who went on to question what happens if a SWAT officer is potentially the very threat that they have been tasked to prevent.

In response to Lee's statement, the TCPD reassured that SWAT officers are trained and qualified professionals and MP5s are the standard equipment for the officers. All SWAT members have been entrusted with their weapons and aim to be a force of deterrence toward potential wrongdoers.

The representative also said that SWAT members will perform their duties on MRT lines in pairs, with only one officer equipped with an MP5. SWAT officers will ride the MRT and patrol the stations in two shifts between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. every day in more populated areas such as the route between Taipei Main Station and Zhongxiao Fuxing Station on the Bannan Line as well as the route between Zhongshan Station and Jiantan Station on the Tamsui Line. The SWAT officers will be a part of MRT security until June 3, said the representative, before a review will determine whether or not the program will continue.

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