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Punishing water cannon officer won't help: police

2019-10-21 HKT 19:04
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  • Punishing water cannon officer won't help: police
Police said on Monday that taking action against the officer in charge of the water cannon that sprayed blue dye at Kowloon Mosque will not be any help, as the department joined the Chief Executive and police commissioner by apologising for the incident.

But speaking at a press briefing, senior superintendent of operations Wong Wai-shun said penalising the officer involved would not help.

"Fault-finding or asking whether any officer should be suspended from his duty will not help the solve the problem. It's more important to cut ties to violence and stop people from using violence to disrupt peace in society," he said.

Wong said the commander of the water cannon truck is a station sergeant and the officer is responsible for the safety of the truck and decides when to use the water cannon.

The superintendent said he doesn't think the officer should bear all the responsibility for Sunday's incident, because the truck's deployment and its operation involves many units. He said the officer didn't decide on his own when to deploy the truck.

He said a risk assessment was carried out before the action was taken and only minimum force used. But there are some restrictions in such operations which makes it difficult to make sure that other people aren't affected.

Asked if the police would apologise to the people of Yuen Long over the July 21 gang attack, like they did to the Muslim community, chief superintendent of the police public relations branch John Tse said they had been working hard over the last four months and every action that frontline officers have taken over the long period may not have been perfect.

At the briefing, the superintendent for the cyber security and technology crime bureau, Swalikh Mohammed, said there were posts online accusing the police of declaring a war against Hong Kong's Muslims. He said such attempts to inflame tensions won't succeed, as the Muslim community is peaceful and rational.

He also dismissed criticism that some female police officers had lacked sensitivity as they were not fully covered when they went to the mosque on Sunday night to clean up the area after the blue dye was sprayed.

Mohammed said that according to the Koran, women have to wear non-revealing clothes and the female officers who visited the mosque had done that.

"The other thing is that it was a community centre and they only approached the office instead of prayer halls and things. I think our officers had shown utmost respect to the religion, to the community and that is our central message," he said.