Cops heading back to beat patrols from street battles

Local | 27 Feb 2020 6:24 pm

The police say riot police will begin returning to regular law enforcement duties, such as crime prevention and traffic control, because "violent" anti-government protests are on the decrease, RTHK reports.

The announcement comes a day after plans for a 25 percent increase in funding for the force were revealed in the budget.

In a statement on Facebook, the police say they had to send a large number of frontline officers to deal with "gangs of violent and unruly protesters" responsible for eight months of "demonstrations against the extradition law amendment bill.''

But the post adds that the protests have died down, and it will therefore re-deploy manpower and get riot officers back to regular law-enforcement duties "in a proportional and flexible manner".

"The police will remain united to safeguard law and order, and spare no effort in protecting the lives, well-being, and property of all citizens," the statement says.

The government is planning to boost the force's budget by HK$5 billion to help it buy more equipment and hire an extra 2,500 or so staff.

Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said on Thursday that the police are getting the money to help them crush dissent.

"Most of the Hong Kong people strongly oppose increasing the budget for the police force, especially the expenditure used to suppress protesters," Lam said.

But pro-government lawmaker Junius Ho said it is only fair for the police to be given more resources, in case the protests return.

"Now, thank God, things have died down a little bit. But there's no guarantee whether the situation is fully restored," Ho said.

He said the force must continue to be vigilant, in case there is further unrest in the city.

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