Securing Your World
|Type||Subsidiary of Temasek Holdings|
|Founded||1958 (as Guard and Escort unit of the Singapore Police Force)|
|Key people||Paul Chong, Group CEO|
|Parent||Temasek Holdings (100%)|
Certis CISCO Security Private Limited (Chinese: 策安保安机构), formerly CISCO Security Private Limited, is one of the five commercial Auxiliary Police forces authorized to provide armed security officers to government organizations as well as private companies or individuals in Singapore. It has its roots as a department of the Singapore Police Force (SPF), which branched out as the Commercial and Industrial Security Corporation (Chinese: 工商保安机构), a statutory board with a monopoly over most areas of the local private armed security industry.
From 1 June 2005, the statutory board was dissolved and Cisco Security Pte Ltd was formed upon its corporatisation as a fully owned subsidiary of Temasek Holdings, and inaugurated on 5 July 2005. The abbreviation of the former statutory board, "CISCO", was retained due to its reputation in the local market. The company was renamed as Certis CISCO Security Pte Ltd in 13 September 2007.
As the oldest Auxiliary Police Force with a monopoly over most of the private armed security sector in Singapore for 33 years, CISCO continues to leverage its relatively strong track record compared to its less-established competitors in the liberalised security sector. It maintains a visible presence in many key establishments, including the private residences of VVIPs. They were deployed in major events such as the Singapore 2006 IMF Meetings, the New Year Countdown at Marina Bay in 2007 and 2008, the Chingay Parade and the Thaipusam processions. They also continue to dominate some services such as the transportation of valuables, most visibly in the form of delivering cash to automated teller machines.
CISCO came into being in 1972 in the wake of a police employment scheme review by a committee led by Professor Lee Soo Ann a year earlier. It recommended that the Singapore Police Force's Guard and Escort Unit (守卫及护卫组), itself formed in 1958, be hived off as a statutory board of the Government of Singapore, in a bid to relieve manpower constraints on the SPF by empowering the new statutory board with the ability to conduct its own recruitment schemes tailored specifically for armed security services.
At its dissolution, the Guard and Escort Unit had a strength of 1,600 police officers, who received the same training as their counterparts in police divisions, and are mostly deployed as guards in commercial banks. The new statutory board absorbed most of these regular officers, although the committee recommended the early retirement of 460 older officers, with an enhanced pension scheme offered to them as compensation. A recruitment drive was also initiated on 1 April to recruit other police officers and boost its strength to 2,000.
CISCO, as a separate statutory board, became Singapore's only commercial entity offering armed security services. Its policemen continue to receive training via a 7-week residential training course at the CISCO Police Training School, which is adjacent to the Police Academy at Thomson Road, with training assistance from the Academy. Over time, the course was streamlined to fit their specific operation needs, and instruction was gradually taken over by fellow CISCO officers. CISCO police officers were dressed largely similar to their counterparts in the Singapore Police Force, and CISCO vehicles were also largely similar, except with the addition of a CISCO logo. CISCO officers were paid a salary of about S$650 in the 1970s.
In the next decades, the company diversified its operations beyond the provisioning of armed guards, providing a range of security-related services, including enforcement, management, and consultancy services for not just physical, but also data and IT-related needs. In 1991, the board's new chief executive, Chan Boon Kiong initiated wide-ranging changes to turn the company round into a commercial entity with an annual turnover of S$200 million, with diversification into various aspects of security. As the company began to diversify, its traditional armed police operations were organised under the name of CISCO Auxiliary Police under the Product Division, together with the CISCO Recall Total Information Management Pte Ltd and other specialised departments. It also began to expand abroad, having first established a joint venture with Zhong-Bao Security Industry Company in China in July 1995 with a 60% stake.
CISCO officially opened its new Headquarters building at Jalan Affifi off Upper Paya Lebar Road on 20 June 1986, which then boasted some of the most modern facilities including the first computerised indoor shooting range in Singapore. On 2 March 1994, work commenced to extend the CISCO Headquarters building to incorporate facilities to process and store high-value items and a computer disaster recovery centre. The SCORE Counselling Centre was opened in the building on 5 December 1996.
CISCO entered into a joint venture with Brambles Industries Ltd from Australia in May 1996 with a 51% stake to form CISCO Recall Total Information Management Pte Ltd as part of its foray into the information management industry. On 8 June 1999, the first purpose-built CISCO Recall Centre was officially opened, which included a 43-metre high document storage facility, the tallest single-storey building in Singapore. A second CISCO Recall Centre was opened in Chin Bee Avenue on 10 September 2003, by which time the company's CISCO Recall service has 33 government agencies amongst its clients.
By 1998, the company has over 2,000 clients which has installed security systems linked to CISCO's alarm monitoring system, an increase of 25% since 1996. This included some 500 private homes which paid between S$2000 to S$1million for such systems. CISCO entered into a joint-venture with the National Library Board on 21 June 1999 to establish a digital signature certification authority service.
CISCO manned the Area Licensing Scheme gantries in 1975 until the introduction of Electronic Road Pricing in September 1998, where 105 officers were redeployed. CISCO officers began to assist the Traffic Police as traffic wardens to curb illegal parking on 1 November 1999. Over 12,100 parking violation notices were subsequently issued in the next two months, prompting their implementation in more areas to allow the Traffic Police to concentrate on enforcing traffic rules on the move.
During the height of the SARS crisis, CISCO officers were deployed to serve Home Quarantine Orders at the residents homes and install CCTVs at their homes. These were enforced by about 60 officers, who were given the power to electronically tag those who violate the order Their high-risk duty was mentioned for praise during the then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong's National Day Rally Speech in 2003
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, CISCO reported an increase in business as a result of heightened security demands. From November 2004, CISCO officers were deployed to assist in enforcing sensitive locations such as Jurong Island. CISCO ventured into professional investigation services in 2005.
In August 2012, cash and valuables were reported missing from safe deposit boxes held by Certis CISCO in at least 8 police reports. Clients were warned not to talk to the media. This was followed by a rush of customers to check on their safe deposit boxes and annulment of contracts due to various integrity issues.
Over the years, the license to provide armed security services has been extended to other companies, including the Auxiliary Police Forces operated by PSA Corporation, Changi International Airport Services, Singapore Airport Terminal Services, and Singapore Technologies Kinetics, although these officers have their policing powers restricted to their areas of operation. In the wake of rising security concerns, the government decided to introduce greater competition in the armed security service industry.
As a result of measure to create a more level playing field, the CISCO Act was dissolved, and CISCO ceased being a statutory board, corporatised as a fully government owned company, and coming under the same legislative and regulatory guidelines as the other Auxiliary Police Forces. The new company will not longer utilise the Singapore Police Force's crest, and changes will be made to the uniforms of its police officers, in line with its counterparts in the armed security industry.
To minimise disruptions during the corporatisation process, the Ministry of Home Affairs transferred all of its former statutory board's assets, liabilities, staff and contracts to the new company, and did not give it a moratorium since the statutory board has already engaged in commercial services. The new company took over all businesses the statutory board had engaged in, and is now liberated to enter or exit from contracts based on its own commercial interests.
On 1 June 2005, the corporatisation process was completed and the new CISCO Security Private Limited formed.
Since its inception, CISCO officers have been involved in a number of incidents. Several CISCO constables and Lance Corporals have been shot and killed while on duty, and others injured.
Several officers has also been involved in some high-profile incidents, such as a gun-snatching incident and an attempted bank robbery by a CISCO officer in Bukit Timah. One Lance Corporal prevented a robbery by firing two rounds at a robber.
On 22 December 2011, a CISCO guard committed suicide using service pistol at Vivocity after duty at a Citibank there. He was a relief officer. On 29 January 2013, another CISCO police officer shot herself at the Supreme Court.
In July 2013, a senior police officer was arrested on suspicion of a brutal double murder in Kovan. The incident may be related to missing items in CISCO safe deposit boxes. Documents revealed that the senior police officer had been neck-deep in debt.
Given its former affiliation with the Singapore Police Force, CISCO officers wore the same dark blue uniform as that of the police force when it was formed in 1972. As the sole private armed security agency, and with several sensitive roles passed on to CISCO, the uniforms were kept similar such that the general public would not be able to tell CISCO officers from regular police officers unless under close scrutiny. The primary distinguishing feature was of a black plastic name tag with a white border, as opposed to the plain all-black name tags worn by the police regulars.
As a result of several uniform reviews both by CISCO and the police in subsequent decades, however, it became easier to distinguish CISCO officers. The blue beret and long-sleeved shirts, phased out in favour of the peaked cap and shirt-sleeved shirts for most normal police officers, was still retained in the CISCO uniform. Similarly, CISCO retained the old metallic cap badges and collar lapels although they were replaced with embroidered versions in the SPF.
When CISCO was corporatised as CISCO Security on 1 June 2005, officers continued to don the old uniforms pending a review of their uniforms. Under governmental direction, the uniform was modified to inject distinguishing features between them and that of those worn by officers of the SPF to foster a more level playing field with other Auxiliary Police Forces in Singapore. From 15 June 2005, all 3,200 uniformed CISCO personal switched to the new uniforms.
The new uniforms saw the adoption of a new corporate colour, steel blue, and the material was changed from pure polyester to poly viscose. New buttons and badges on the cap and collars incorporating CISCO's logo were used in place of similar logos to the regular police force. The leather belt was changed from black to brown, as is a band around the peak cap. There is also a horizontal cutting across the chest from one pocket to the other.
While the new uniform was implemented across the company, some officers tasked to perform specific roles were exempt from the change, in particular those involving provision of security for sensitive locations or personnel, such as the Istana, the Supreme Court building and the private residences of VVIPs. Close resemblance of the old CISCO uniform with that of the regular police has allowed the latter to outsource sensitive roles, yet providing a visual impression of continued police presence. This practice was thus continued at sensitive locations despite the introduction of the new uniforms.
There have been multiple complaints linked to Certis CISCO officers for unprofessional conduct in performing their duties. In one recent incident, a complaint was issued against an officer for his lack of sensitivity and flexibility while on duty at the Singapore General Hospital. There have been numerous allegations of Certis CISCO officers using high-handed tactics while performing their duties e.g. indiscriminate issue of fines.
There were many cases of officers running foul of the law.
- 21 CISCO Constables were charged with using counterfeit medical certificates on 23 June 1998 and subsequently fired.
- On 12 August 1999, CISCO officer, Abdul Latif Mohamad, 32, was charged for misappropriation of S$1200 while working at DBS Bank.
- CISCO officer Loh Chong Hong, 22, was charged for negligence after accidentally firing a round from his service revolver while on duty at a goldsmith shop at North Bridge Road on 7 September 1999.
- On 14 November 2006, CISCO officer, Loqmanul Hakim Buang, 23, was arrested for shoplifting. Dressed in uniform and carrying his service weapon, he had walked into Sheng Siong Hypermart in Jurong, and calmly attempted to walk out carrying two DVD players. He was charged on 16 November.
- In July 2013, a Certis CISCO officer was jailed for four weeks for punching and kicking a 69-year-old man at a coffeeshop. Jay Prakash Jageshwar Rai, 48, had admitted to causing hurt to retiree Ngoh Jat Peng at Block 280 Bishan Street 24 on 11 March 2012.
- On 30 December 1999, Certis CISCO officers Goh Kim Huat, 25, and Ganesan Vijayakamaran, 24 were charged for accepted bribes during inspection of their cargo and vehicles. From early March 1999 to late May 1999, Certis CISCO officer Wan Kamil who was attached to Woodlands Checkpoint accepted bribes ranging from RM 380 to RM 1350 in exchange for assisting 4 individuals to smuggle illegal immigrants from Malaysia into Singapore. Wan Kamil was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment in October 1999 consequently.
From July 1999, CISCO implemented measures to curb corruption amongst its officers in the midst of several publicised cases of corruption involving CISCO Officers.
- Requiring all officers to undergo psychological tests before being posted to vulnerable posts such as checkpoints.
- Officers were put on more frequent rotations such that they do not serve the same post for more than a year.
- Deployments will be announced only on the day of duty, and all officers must declare any money they carry before and after their shifts.
- Officers with extravagant lifestyles were identified and monitored, with suspect cases reported to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.
- Officers were educated on the consequences of corruption, and were given channels to report any corruption practises.
- Cases of officers who refuse to accept bribes were given publicity in the press.
- CISCO Lcp Mohammad Nasir Salleh and Constable Mohammad Sharani Rais, both 32, were commended for turning down a S$30 bribe from a trailer driver on 9 June 2001.
In October 2008, Certis CISCO officer M Subramaniam was arrested by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) and charged with two counts of abetting foreign workers to violate the terms of their work permits and two counts of engaging in trade without his employers’ consent. In November 2009, Certis CISCO officer M Rafi Abdul Alim was charged with attempting to obtain sexual favors in return for turning a blind eye on smoking offenders.
As an armed organisation, there have been cases of CISCO officers committing or attempting to commit suicide with their service revolvers, although few cases were actually attributed to work-related issues. On 23 April 2002, 50-year-old officer, Constable R. Sathasivam, shot himself in the head after failing in his attempt to murder his estranged wife at her workplace in the Institute of South East Asian Studies. As a result of this incident, all officers on duty were no longer allowed to commute on public (not included taxis) or private transport from their workplace to the headquarters building in Paya Lebar, and are to report immediately between the headquarters and workplace via transportation provided by the security company.
On 22 December 2011, a 25-year-old male auxiliary police officer (an Indian Malaysian from Penang) was found with a suspected gunshot wound to the head at Vivocity Building first floor male toilet with his service revolver beside him, with the door of the cubicle locked from the inside. The police revealed that they had received a call at 6pm about a gunshot and he was pronounced dead at 6 30pm by SCDF paramedics. The dead male officer has been identified as a 25-year-old Indian Malaysian, who had been working for the company for three years. According to The Straits Times, the officer was on relief duty earlier at Citibank branch in the shopping mall, where he had been deployed as an Armed Security officer.
On 29 January 2013, Lim Kooi Khim (June 1992-January 29, 2013), a Malaysian Chinese female Certis CISCO officer, who had been with the company for a year, was found dead in a washroom cubicle with a gunshot wound to her head and was pronounced dead fifteen minutes after the discovery of her body (1.35 p.m.; local time).
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- Policing Singapore in the 19th & 20th centuries, 2002
- Privatisation of CISCO
- Amendment of the Singapore Police Force act
- CISCO officers to get newly designed uniforms