Despite the dangers, all of them are willing to devote their own safety to protecting the public and maintaining social order.
In danger zones, as usual
The special police force (team 3) of the Police Department for Investigation of Social Order, Ho Chi Minh City Police, was established on April 2, 2008. 38 police officers of this special force are always on standby to deal with different type of crimes and conduct complex criminal investigations.
After stressful working hours, the police officers come back to the police station for a short sleep.
On the morning of July 7, Tuoi Tre visited the police station. In a large room with 30 bunk beds, there were several police officers resting after patrolling the streets all night.
Second lieutenant Pham Huynh Ngoc Viet was sitting in the middle of the room. Viet had just returned from the Hospital for Tropical Diseases. He must go there for treatment to prevent HIV infection after exposure. Viet was injured when he chased and fought with a necklace robber on To Hien Thanh Street the previous afternoon. While fighting with the thief, Viet’s bleeding hand came into contact with the blood of the other man, who was HIV positive.
Viet looked tired after taking medicine. His right hand was still bleeding and he was rather nervous. In the middle of that morning, Tuoi Tre followed Viet to the hospital to get the blood test result. The doctor said that the blood test was negative, but Viet still had to take medicine every day for six months. His words made Viet feel secure. “Don’t worry about this. I am not the only one. Six brothers in our team have taken this medicine”, Viet said with a smile.
Viet is one of many police officers who face dangerous situations every day. Lieutenant Trinh Huu Phuong once broke his leg when he was chasing after a robbery gang.
Second Lieutenant Duong Phuoc Bao Hoang, who has since moved to another unit, had to get his spleen removed after being stabbed by a criminal. Being injured on duty has become something familiar with the police officers of this special force.
Lieutenant Tran Thanh Binh told Tuoi Tre about the hard days when his team followed illegal motorcycle races at the end of 2011. According to the law, to arrest the racers, police officers must have evidence which can prove that the racers participated in organized illegal competitions.
There must be a referee and a race track with starting and finishing lines. Moreover, the police officers have to wait until the race ends and approach promptly when the racers are collecting the betting money.
This requires the police officers to spend time keeping track of the suspects. They had to disguise themselves as street sweepers and motorbike taxi drivers to keep watch at hot spots and follow the racers. Each time the racers found someone or something suspicious, they changed their plan and the officers had to start their work over again.
It was not until March 2012 that the police officers were able to bust a ring. “All of us were so happy and felt relief. No one cared about their own injuries during the days chasing the racers”, said Lieutenant Binh.
The job requires the police officers to patrol on their motorbikes all day. They only return to the station after a long shift for a short break and quickly leave when there are clues for an investigation or a suspect who needs to be followed.
Those police officers often joke that since their wives cannot find them at the police station, it’s hard for them to prove that they are really on duty, and not out somewhere for fun.
According to Lieutenant Binh, each police officer in his team is assigned to be on the night shift two times a week. However, Binh and other police officers often stay out on the streets all night to patrol or follow suspects. It is common for them to go home only once a week.
One year, although there were only two days left before Tet, they were too busy to go home and could not give their wives money to prepare for the holiday. “We have little time for our family, so we need love and sympathy from our wives so that we can keep our mind on work”, Binh said.
The police officers of this special force are assigned to deal with all types of criminals. It often takes them at least six months to deal with a special case. When one case ends, they simply continue working on another one.
“Although we are eager to be given a new task, sometimes I feel uneasy over making the family worry for my safety”, said Lieutenant Binh.
However, when the police officers are on duty, everything is put aside. Coming back from the hospital with the medicine in his hand, Second Lieutenant Viet smiled cheerfully and said “I am ready to go on patrols this afternoon”.