Singapore Police Release Bodycam Footage To Debunk Bullying Allegations
Recently, a video of Singapore Police Force (SPF) officers’ encounter with an elderly woman in Yishun made the rounds of the Internet.
The netizen who posted it accused the officers of bullying the granny because she wasn’t wearing a mask.
Later, The Online Citizen Asia (TOC) posted a video interview with her, where she denied the officers had bought food for her.
In response, the police have released a video of their own, showing a police officer buying food for the granny.
In the footage captured by an officer’s body-worn camera, the officer can also be seen telling the woman’s domestic helper to tell her that she’s not wearing a mask.
Police said they were concerned for granny
The SPF have so far released 2 statements on this incident.
The 1st one, posted on Facebook last week, clarified the online posts that accused the officers of bullying.
In the statement, SPF said that they assisted the granny as she appeared to be lost and didn’t have a mask on.
The officers also bought food for her as they were worried that she might be hungry.
SPF also commended 2 members of the public who helped out by offering masks to the granny.
Police stand by their statement, release video
However, TOC followed this up with a video interview with the granny.
In it, the interviewer asked her whether the police bought food for her. The granny shook her head and said, “No”.
TOC then asked SPF to share bodycam footage to prove their assertions.
Thus, in a 2nd statement, posted on Facebook on Tuesday (25 May), the SPF said it stood by their version of events in their 1st statement.
They also did something that’s not common practice – they released bodycam footage to debunk 2 of the allegations. Watch the SPF video here:
Footage debunks 2 allegations
The footage, taken at Block 743 Yishun Avenue 5 on 17 May from 7.23pm onwards, debunked 2 allegations.
The 1st was that the granny wasn’t given food by the police.
The bodycam footage shows a police officer ordering food from a cai png stall, telling the stallholder it’s for the auntie.
The officer was then seen delivering a pink plastic bag to her.
He offers to bring the granny home, but she declines, saying she can go home herself.
The 2nd allegation was that the police reprimanded the woman.
Footage from the camera showed the male officer talking to another woman nearby who was said to be the granny’s domestic helper.
He told her to tell her ma’am that she didn’t wear a mask.
Granny has dementia, police say
The police said they’ve spoken to a family member of the granny, and confirmed that she has dementia.
As such, she may not remember what exactly happened during the encounter.
The family member was also disappointed that someone interviewed the granny and posted the interview online without speaking to her family members first, the police said.
Thus, the police decided to release parts of the bodycam footage online after discussing with the family member.
They said this isn’t generally done as the information is confidential.
Directions issued under POFMA
Besides releasing the latest bodycam footage, the authorities have taken other actions to show that they take the allegations very seriously.
Last Friday (21 May), the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement that correction directions had been issued under the Protection From Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA).
They were issued to:
- Instagram user @nichology, who 1st posted the video of the incident in his Instagram story on 18 May. In his caption, he alleged that the officers had clustered around the granny and taunted her by pointing at her.
- Singapore Uncensored for sharing an article on the Instagram story.
- The Online Citizen Asia for posts sharing the Instagram story.
Minister Shanmugam tells TOC not to attack police
Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam was also interviewed by the media on Tuesday (25 May), and he had strong words for TOC in particular.
He said the website’s video where they interviewed the granny was “quite malicious” and intended to attack the police.
Saying that TOC had taken advantage of an elderly woman with dementia, the minister added,
People who have dealt with people with dementia will know that you can sometimes get them to say many things they will not remember… You interview her, this old lady, try and get her to say things, I would say this is despicable.
Mr Shanmugam, who’s also Law Minister, advised TOC to reserve their “malice and venom” for the political sphere, and keep our police officers out of it as they’re just doing their jobs.
As for whether any further action will be taken, that’s still under consideration, he added.
Don’t jump to conclusions quickly
Though it’s fine for citizens to question whether public servants are doing their duties properly, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions based on a video on the Internet.
That’s because it’s impossible for those who weren’t at the scene to get the full picture from just one video with no context.
It’s important to think before you share information online that may lead to misunderstandings.
Hopefully, now that the police have released bodycam footage, the incident will be put to rest.
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Featured image adapted from Facebook.