Few people might realize it, but there’s a SWAT team based not far from Jing’an Temple, right in the heart of Shanghai’s commercial and shopping center. Among its members is 26-year-old Wang Yiming.
Wang was born and raised in east China’s Anhui Province. A former wrestler, Wang says he’s living a dream working on the SWAT team.
“When I left home for Shanghai two years ago, my parents said to me, ‘Be careful,’ but this city is much safer than I thought,” said Wang with a smile during a recent interview with Shanghai Daily.
SWAT (special weapons and tactics) teams are police units made up of officers trained to defuse violent situations such as terrorist attacks. Joining such a unit is no less a challenge than becoming a professional athlete, according to Wang.
“I take pride in being a SWAT team member, because we’re the sharpest policemen with the sharpest mission,” he says.
Most SWAT team members are recruited from police academy graduates, but it also recruits former sportsmen and retired soldiers.
Wang says SWAT team training can be more demanding than in professional sports.
“For example, we were asked to run five or six 400-meter laps. The first two laps had to be finished within 1 minute and 10 seconds, and the next two within 1 minute and 5 seconds,” he explains. “We were not allowed to leave the track till we finished within these times.
“The goals of our training are similar to those in most sports because we aim for better physical performance rather than body-building,” he says.
A multiple national champion in wrestling while still a teenager, Wang is now on his way to collecting titles in SWAT skill competitions. This year, he’s already won a city-wide physical challenge title. Within 93 seconds, he climbed over walls, up and down a rope obstacle, and flipped over a tire weighing 50 kilograms, setting a new speed record in the annual competition.
When he’s not patrolling the streets with his unit, Wang can often be found working out in the gym at the SWAT team’s barracks. The young police officer says he enjoys his simple life and the sense of purpose his job provides.
The SWAT team also works with police officers from other divisions, especially in robbery and kidnapping cases. They also regularly respond to cases where people threaten to commit suicide.
Of course, the job exposes him to plenty of danger. On one of his first missions, to arrest a gang of gambling den operators, Wang was almost hit by a giant mallet swung by one of his colleagues when he tried to kick down a door.
He also gained attention in September when he subdued three thieves in the Shanghai Railway Station who were stealing mobile phones. Wang was off duty at the time and was about to catch a train for his great-grandmother’s funeral.
“I grabbed a thief and dragged him over without much trouble,” he says. “I showed him who I was by displaying my police ID card.”
The physical trainer for Wang and his fellow SWAT team members is 50-year-old Gao Xueming, who was also once a wrestler. Gao didn’t spare compliments when commenting on his young trainee.
“I can tell that those who are most devoted to physical training are also the most devoted to working, because he knows what he aims to accomplish,” he says.