SINGAPORE: After a Certis CISCO officer took his own life in 2020, the security firm improved its procedures for tracking issued firearms and ensuring their timely return, a coroner’s inquest has found.
In coroner’s findings released Wednesday, July 20, State Coroner Adam Nakhoda ruled the death of Mr. Elanko V Ganesan a suicide and concluded that no foul play was involved.
Mr. Elanko, 42, died of a gunshot wound to the head with his Taurus M85 revolver issued by Certis CISCO. His body was found by police in a parking lot in East Coast Park in the early hours of September 19, 2020.
The day before, the Malaysian had taken out his revolver and 10 cartridges from the Certis CISCO armory before leaving for deployment with two colleagues.
Their deployment ended an hour earlier, around 10 p.m. on September 18, 2020. The trio returned to the Certis CISCO center around 10:10 p.m. and Mr. Elanko’s two colleagues surrendered their firearms, but he didn’t.
Instead, Mr. Elanko went alone to the men’s locker room, where he deliberately wore his jacket so as to conceal his revolver in its holster, Judge Nakhoda said.
He then left the Certis CISCO center at 10:30 p.m., scanning his personnel pass as he left the building.
Mr. Elanko then boarded a taxi for East Coast Park. There he was last seen on camera walking to a parking lot, where he loitered near a dumpster center and killed himself shortly after 10:54 p.m. that night.
AFTER HIS DISAPPEARANCE
Judge Nakhoda found that Certis CISCO acted “in a timely and appropriate manner” by first trying to locate Mr. Elanko and then informing the police of the accident.
He noted that the security company had also reviewed and improved its procedures since the incident.
Certis CISCO officers have one hour to return their firearms at the end of their shift, to account for unforeseen delays, ad hoc missions and traffic jams, Gunsmith Master Sergeant Chiue Seng Yu told the inquest. of the coroner.
This one-hour period began at the scheduled end time of the deployment and not at the agent’s return time to the CISCO Certis Center.
Mr. Elanko’s one-hour period therefore expired at midnight on September 19, 2020, even though he returned from duty before the scheduled end time of 11 p.m.
The Weapons and Equipment Management System (AEMS) would automatically send alerts to the duty officer and key officers if a CISCO Certis agent did not surrender their firearms within one hour.
On September 19, 2020 at midnight, the Certis CISCO operations control manager received an AEMS email alert that Mr. Elanko had not returned his revolver by 11 p.m. the day before.
The agent checked the time tracking system and realized that Mr. Elanko had already scanned, meaning he had returned to the Certis CISCO center. He called Mr. Elanko’s cell phone, but got no answer.
At approximately 12:15 p.m., the officer and another sergeant who also received the AEMS email alert escalated the matter by informing other officers, including Staff Sergeant Chiue and Certis management. CISCO.
They checked with the armory and security transport unit (banking and retail) that Mr. Elanko was in, confirming that his gun had not been returned and that all the unit had returned. Mr. Elanko remained unreachable by telephone.
At approximately 12:45 p.m., Deputy Commissioner Julian Chee, Commander of the Certis CISCO Auxiliary Police, was informed of Mr. Elanko’s disappearance. He ordered the officers to inform the police and check Mr. Elanko’s record.
At approximately 1 a.m., Certis CISCO officers searched Mr. Elanko’s locker and viewed CCTV footage from the locker room showing that he had the gun. He was also seen flagging down a taxi.
Certis CISCO notified the police of the incident around 1:30 a.m. Officers went to East Coast Park to search for him around 5.30am and discovered his body around 6.15am.
FIREARMS PROCEDURE IMPROVEMENTS
At the time of the September 2020 incident, the AEMS and the weather tracking system were not linked, AC Chee said. After the incident, the systems were linked in October 2020.
This meant that if an Auxiliary Policeman scanned through the time-tracking system before the official end of his deployment and his firearm had not yet returned to the armory, an alert would be issued. Alerts would continue until the firearm was returned.
There was also an escalation protocol if the officer could not be reached or if there was a suspicion that the officer ‘no longer had a lawful basis’ for possessing the firearm, according to the findings. of the coroner.
The duty officer would notify the police and other Certis CISCO officers would be mobilized to check CCTV footage and search the officer’s lockers and deployment site.
The escalation protocol has been reviewed frequently and incorporated police feedback, with the last review being conducted this year, according to AC Chee.
“This improvement will allow for a faster response to similar incidents if they occur in the future,” Judge Nakhoda said.
In December last year, Certis CISCO also reviewed when the majority of Auxiliary Police Officers must surrender their firearms, taking into account the official end-of-duty time and the average travel time to the CISCO Certis center.
Auxiliary police officers are also “monitored individually” until their issued firearms are returned at the end of their shift to minimize the risk of late return or non-return of firearms, according to the coroner’s findings .
“CAN NEVER BE UNDERSTOOD”
Forensic analysis of Mr. Elanko’s mobile phone revealed that he had researched the suicide and gunshot wounds on the internet in the early morning hours of September 18, 2020, before going to work.
The judge found that Mr. Elanko had formed an intention to end his life that morning and put that intention into action after completing his deployment later that night.
Memories of Mr. Elanko’s cousin and roommates painted a picture of a reserved man who kept to himself. He did not show suicidal intentions or overt behavioral changes prior to his death.
He had suffered a tragedy in 2015 or 2016 when his girlfriend died of cancer, but there was no indication that was what prompted him to take his own life, the judge said.
From the recollections of his colleagues, Mr. Elanko was also a good worker. He had no medical or financial concerns, Judge Nakhoda added.
“What may never be understood is why Mr. Elanko decided he had no other choice in his life but to kill himself,” Judge Nakhoda said.