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Chinese SWAT officers train in a 'haunted house'

Credit: Sina Weibo

Haunted houses are sometimes viewed with disbelief but most people will steer clear of them anyway.

The fear of the unknown is particularly strong when faced with a crumbling, dank and dark house professed to be infested with ghosts.

There are many people who have claimed to live in haunted houses and twice as many who'd give an alleged haunted house a wide berth.

All of these are perfectly reasonable and justifiable actions. See a haunted house, avoid it.

Yet in China, police trainees are made to wander the dark hallways of a haunted house as part of their training.

It used to be a training academy that was eventually designed and outfitted with all the trappings of a horror movie from Asian cinema to scare the police blues off an aspiring cop.

The building was a former driving school and was rumoured to be haunted anyway.

That knowledge alone would cause a significant number of people to be suddenly acutely aware of every sound, bump and smell in the building.

The new facility, called the Psychological Limits Development Centre, was specifically tailored to toughen up "officers born in the 1980s and 1990s [under the one-child policy], single children who were spoiled by their families."

It's also opened to the public but how many dared to put themselves through a horror fest is currently unknown. Not many would walk into an abandoned building just for kicks let alone sign up for one you know you're going to get a scare in.

The entire building is rigged with electronic systems to simulate authentic supernatural experiences with the occasional shock imagery of a corpse or skeleton thrown in for good measure.

The trainee officers are given one minute to study the building plan before they're sent off on their way to navigate the house of horrors. Sometimes the recruit is placed in a room in total darkness while bombarded with scary tactics.

His purpose is to escape the room. The average time taken was 5 minutes which we assume meant the guy was sufficiently terrified to try really hard to get out of there.  

Credit: Renmingwang via Sina Weibo

The mad geniuses behind this idea intend to not only toughen up the officers but teach them a very important trait; how to be calm under intense stress and pressure.

When interviewed by the Wuhan Evening News, a cadet was quoted saying, "after only three steps, my flashlight shone on a skeleton. Suddenly the wind started howling and there was lightening. I saw another skeleton hanging in the middle of the pouring rain. On my left, the screams of a baby shocked me. Then I heard a woman weeping, and then giggling. When I turned, a female corpse with long hair and dressed in white was hanging from a tree".

If you've been through the haunted house at Resorts World Sentosa during Halloween, you can begin to understand how these officers might feel.

The big difference here is they go through the ordeal alone. No back up and no squad to command. Just one man against the creepiest scares his superiors can come up with.

And if coming face to face with a corpse swinging from a rope in the dead of the night in an abandoned building isn't scary, we don't know what is.

After all, if someone can remain calm when faced with something like that, everyday police issues would be relatively benign and stress free.

That's the theory at least.

Still, it's not a bad idea. People have been interested and continuously spooked by the supernatural for centuries; using it as a means to toughen up one's psychological resolve is a pretty ingenious invention.

Asia has long been steeped in the realm of the supernatural and one need only look at the upcoming 7th month preparations to understand that what the West considers superstition is merely a part of life in most Asian nations.

And Singapore, no matter how metropolitan, has its fair share of ghost stories and supernatural curiosities. We're often considered the most haunted city in Asia but our haunted locales, while popular are quickly being barricaded behind government fencing.

Instead of keeping supposed haunted buildings locked and unavailable, why not appropriate them as training facilities and open them to the public?

Perhaps then, Old Changi Hospital can have a new lease at life.

Written by: Christopher Chitty

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