Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Singapore Police Force (Part 1)

Along with two other bloggers, Yina and Beatrice, I got to experience a customized program meant to reflect the various vocations of a Police Officer the other day, thanks to NuffnangSG! :D

We were told to wear long pants and covered shoes so here's my outfit (before we got the cool Police tees!) haha!

In a gist, we learned about the core tenets of policing and experienced first-hand a realistic picture of policing work.
We were very privileged to have gained insight on what life is like for trainees during their basic residential training at the Home Team Academy and also check out the type of general policing work that the Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) and Community Policing officers (CPOs) carry out on a daily basis :)

From this program, I had lots of thrilling experiences and brought back several fond memories, so do read on to find out more about them!! :D

Stepping into Police Training Command (TRACOM) for the first time! :)
There's just something about the place puts one in a good mood!
I felt really energized and awake, and super pumped up to learn about (and hopefully try out) some policing work!! :D

To add on to that, all three of us (being typical girls...) were ecstatic when we received our own POLICE polo tees!
Totally felt like official trainees the moment we put the polo tees on :D

To kickstart our day of exciting activities, we first had a briefing by Ma'am Lilian Tan about training in SPF!
The male officers are really cool, but I think there's just an extra glow in all the ma'ams because they just exude so much confidence and independence, like girl power, you know? :D
Ma'am Lilian Tan definitely left such an impression on me!

About Singapore Police Force

The mission of the Singapore Police Force is to prevent, deter and detect crime.

Shared Vision
A Force for the Nation – To make Singapore the safest place in the world

Departmental Values – C.L.I.F.
Courage, Loyalty, Integrity, Fairness

If you find the word "C.L.I.F." familiar, it's probably because that's what Mediacorp 2011 Blockbuster Drama " 警徽天职 C.L.I.F." is named after :)
This series is inspired by true Police crime files, with researchers pouring over hundreds of cases for reference.
Key actors and actresses were put through a training programme to enable them to portray Police officers realistically.

TRACOM is the training arm of the Singapore Police Force (SPF).
TRACOM's mission is to turn recruits into Police Officers and to develop serving officers into better Police Officers through basic training for all new entrants, vocational training for certain functional areas, and supervisory, executive and leadership courses.
Training will be progressive and based on needs as the Police Officers progress in their career.

It is necessary that all police officers go through the basic training because it will aid them in being successful in their mission (to prevent, deter and detect crime), to be competent in their job, and also to ensure their own personal safety while on duties.
What Ma'am Lilian Tan mentioned that I remembered vividly is how in SPF, they do not operate OMO (one-man operation),
and in every situation (be it from patrolling to managing crimes and offences), Police Officers will always have at least a partner with them.
I remembered this specifically because personally I would prefer working with people, and two brains are always better than one :p

(yes, at this point I was totally daydreaming about being a Police Officer already hahah)

We were also briefed about some of the benefits that Police Officers get.
I can't deny that the benefits are extremely attractive, and I think it's a really huge plus point to considering becoming a Police Officer as a career.
You get to do your part for your country, keep Singapore (your country and your loved ones) safe, you'll be able to keep fit, have a super cool job (and uniform), and you have a stable income source!

Some of the benefits are:

Sign-On Bonus
New direct-entry officers with Full ‘A’ Level Certificates, International Baccalaureate (IB) / NUS High School Diplomas , Local polytechnic diplomas/NAFA/LaSalle qualifications will receive a sign-on bonus of $10,000.on appointment to the Sergeant rank. There will be a bond of 2 years for the sign-on bonus, effective from the date of appointment.

Retention Bonus Schemes
New officers can also look forward to attractive retention bonus schemes.  If you join, you can expect payouts ranging from $6,000 to $10,000 starting from your 3rd year of service or 5th year of service onwards.

MTE scheme
Minimum Term of Engagement (MTE) scheme allows pre-enlistees (males who have yet to serve NS) to join SPF as a regular officer and receive full pay and benefits, while serving NS with SPF.
My friends who joined SPF as regulars get about 4 to 5 times the pay that my younger brother (serving his 2 years of NS in SPF) gets, and this difference in pays is on a monthly basis (2 years = 24 months) so it's really a huge deal haha!

Opportunities for further education
- Home Team Merit Award, which sponsors successful applicants for a 3-year full-time diploma, and is also open to EXISTING polytechnic students.
According to the website, there's an annual allowance of $12,000 (while you're studying in school) and additional study bonus of $1,200 per sem if the student passes all modules in that sem! NICE!!

- Full-Time Degree Sponsorship Programme
I studied in NUS before and I know how expensive uni fees are. And this programme allows good performing Police Officers to pursue full-time undergraduate courses in any of the 4 local universities (NTU, NUS, SMU and SUTD).
The uni tuition fees will be FULLY covered
and apart from that, you'll still receive 80% pay throughout the duration of study!

For more information on more further education benefits, you can check out:

After the briefing, off we went on these cool buggies to get started on the programmes planned for us!

First, we each needed to put on the ops utility belt (without the gun, handcuffs, walkie talkie etc) to feel the basic weight that each Police Officer have to bear when they go for operations.

The belt alone weighed about 2kg I think. Plus everything else, it would probably weigh 7kg to 8kg!
Initially it was a bit overwhelming, like wearing weights while you're running, but after awhile we kind of got used to it,
and I think it's a pretty good way to lose weight and get a fit and lean body too! :p

As aforementioned, the SPF training content is based on needs and progression of the Police Officer.
So while the Senior Officers go for Senior Officers Basic Course, new recruits will have to go through the Police Officers Basic course to attain the Police Officer Basic Competency Standards.

These standards include:
Managing routine crime incidents (i.e. thefts) & offences
Managing routine non-crime incidents (i.e. disputes)
Conducting interviews
Report & record incidents during patrol duties
Carry out patrol duties
Carry out escort, ward & security duties
Use of force/tactical options

So each aspect of the training programme recruits go through at TRACOM is to help them achieve those standards.

Police Standard Obstacle Course (PSOC)

The PSOC is exactly what it sounds like :)
These are obstacles made to simulate buildings, pipes, drains etc that Police Officers will face during their duties
and the PSOC helps them be confident about overcoming these obstacles during their duties (for example while chasing a thief).
And of course, to make things more challenging, the officers have to clear the entire obstacle course within a given time limit!

SSS Eddie Ng briefing us about the different obstacles!

Two of the officers (one male and one female) demonstrated how they could get past these obstacles with extreme agility!
Super impressed!!

Obstacle to simulate a regular drain

To my right is Ma'am Lilian Tan whom I mentioned above by the way! :)
She was with us throughout our entire day at TRACOM!

Our regular fence!

These sandbags were meant to simulate a crowded area!
The aim of this is to get past the "crowd", and also to prevent anyone from being able to touch any equipment from the ops utility belt!
Looked really easy when the officer was demonstrating it, but I was so terrible at this I kept feeling the sandbags touch my gun pocket! :(

Check out this work of art!

Actually this was meant to simulate the walls and pillars at void decks :)

Me having a try at getting past this (with my hand in a gun-position)!

I also tried to conquer this steep slope which you will have to jump off from at the end!

Me struggling to get up the slope, ahh!

The officers guiding me the proper way to jump off from the top without hurting myself! :)
They're all so patient and nice!!

After the PSOC, we walked over to the Dojo for Police Defence Tactics Training and Demonstration!

SSS Tan Kien Hwee was teaching us about the use of force and tactical options.
Unlike what we see in the movies (which are usually highly exaggerated), Police Officers do not just draw a gun as they please.
There are different levels of responses they can choose and obviously it'd be better if they didn't have to draw their guns (like a last resort).
There are verbal commands like "Hands up, sir!" "Drop your weapon", use of unarmed tactics, use of T baton, use of taser,
and finally, use of their guns.
This is why at TRACOM, they have all sort of simulated trainings for different scenarios to train Police Officers to be able to access situations well enough to make the right decisions :)

We got to try out the actual T-baton and (training) handcuffs!! :D

Learning from the pro!

For safety reasons, we had to warm up before we could try out the Police Defence Tactics Training! :)

Learning how to handcuff a compliant culprit!
I never knew there were so many specific steps that goes behind this!
There's an accurate way to hold onto the handcuffs to ensure that your culprit won't be able to escape, there are certain measures to take to ensure your own safety while doing this, the verbal commands you have to give etc!

Us trying to get the hand postures right

And here's me shouting the verbal commands for the suspect to turn around and lifting his right hand up!

Yay, I caught the "culprit"!
Haha they were actually Police Officers themselves, hopefully they didn't laugh at our sub-par handcuffing skills :p

Time to learn about the T-baton!

Getting all posey with it first

Learning about self-defense in the case where someone tries to strangle you from the back

Me versus the invisible man!!! :X

Now for the real practice haha

But of course, what we learnt in that short period of time cannot compare to the defence tactics that these officers demonstrated for us.

Now for the Basic Combat Shooting Course and Dry Practice! :)
We're actually all really hyped up for this!!
But like everything else, it's important to get briefed about what to expect, what the procedure is like and also safety measures first before getting into it!

Different old equipments versus the new equipments

Then we proceeded to the shooting range!

Got my eye protector and my ear muffs on, and we're ready for the dry practice!

There's also a simulator which can record the reaction time of the Police Officer

Then off we went in the buggy again to head over to the Training Village, guided by SSI Hajira!

At the Training Village, the place was designed to look like a shopping mall.
There was a mini mart, a jewellery shop, a bank, pushcart shops, and even some escalators!
So cute! :D

And we witnessed a simulated shoptheft incident, with the trainees putting into practice what they've learned in theory to arrest the shoplifter.

The trainees had to give the right verbal commands (like what we learnt at the Dojo), search the shoplifter (who was their fellow trainee) for any dangerous weapons, conduct interviews with the shop owners (also a trainee) to write a report etc.

Although it was a simulated scenario, it was interesting to see that the shoplifter was actually very convincing in struggling, rebelling and going against the Police Officer trainees, just as you'd expect in a real case of shoptheft.
I think this effectively helps prepare the trainees to handle various routine crime incidents confidently when they become Police Officers and do patrol duties.

Their trainer and fellow trainees will also watch their responses to the incidents,
and they will give constructive feedback on areas of strengths and weaknesses (e.g. trainee was firm in giving verbal commands but need to ask the shop owner for more details during the interview) to help each other improve :)

Next, we checked out the dormitory and their facilities, guided by NSPI Hafiz :)

A guide on how a trainee's items should be organized to help inspection be carried out quicker at a glance :)

The dormitories are clean, adequate and kept simple!
They are quite strict with their lights-out timings to ensure that everyone gets sufficient sleep, which is a good thing!
The whole ambiance actually makes me feel like I'm back to secondary 3 camp.
Lots of learning, bonding with friends, new experiences, and definitely lots of fond memories :')

By the way, we actually asked the officers,
and they said that there is no "tekan" (usually meant to describe punishments like push-ups etc) in SPF :p
- but trainees will still be punished if they infringed any rules and regulations.

Then we also got to take a look at their gym facilities! :)
We were told that usage of the gym is not compulsory, mostly OTOT (own time own target), depending on how disciplined the trainee is and how keen they are on training their bodies.
I think that SPF really provides a well-balanced and holistic environment for learning and working.

Our last stop at TRACOM is the Mess for lunch! :)

Queuing for our food!

The portions were huge (and you can still ask for more if you're really hungry haha).
There's everything you'd need in a meal - meat, vegetables, eggs, rice, soup, a cold drink and even a dessert (not shown in pic).
I liked the rice the most, it was actually really yummy!

So if you're thinking of joining the SPF, rest assured that you'll definitely be well-fed :D

And then came the saddest part of the day - leaving TRACOM! :(
We had so much fun there and got to try out so many new things, it felt almost as if the 3 of us were a tiny part of SPF already!
And most of all I'll miss Ma'am Lilian Tan!
She shared with us a lot of stories about being a Police Officer,
and she came across as an intelligent, capable and dedicated woman who takes pride in what she does.
Although the time we had with her was short, she's definitely been an inspiration to us!

A huge thank you to everyone at TRACOM who helped make our trip there super memorable!!

(sorry the sun was in my eyes, I can't open it, ahh!)

Then, we went over to the Central Police Division for the next half of our programme - to learn about general policing! :)

A quick picture of us before the presentation on the 'A' Division started!
(the different letters represent various areas in Singapore)

Evolution of General Policing

1983 – 1997 Neighbourhood Police Post (NPP) System
The Singapore Police Force started neighbourhood policing model in mid 1980s. The NPP system was meant to provide easy public access to the Police and to project police presence at the neighbourhood.

1997 – 2012 Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) System
In 1997, the expansion of the NPP network was put to a halt and the Neighbourhood Police Centres
(NPCs) were introduced.
The NPCs are ubiquitous, sited at strategic locations nationwide and provide the communities that
they serve with a one-stop service point for a full range of police services ( from crime-fighting capabilities to change of address services).

2012 onwards Community Policing System (COPS)
While the NPC system has served our community well, our policing model must adapt to meet
anticipated changes in the community’s security needs in the coming years. Our population is ageing
and also becoming more diverse.
Development in information technology and camera technology also offer opportunities to do things
better and more efficiently, thus something we should capitalise on.

Sources: SPF Website – http://www.spf.gov.sg/sites/cops 

About COPS

Community Policing System (COPS) will transform frontline policing in the following four areas:

Changes in Systems, People, Technology and Partnerships are necessary in order to meet our changing and diverse population in order to better serve the community

After the presentation, we had a tour of the Divisional Operations Room (DOR) and BME NPC Report Room! :)

(Sorry, no pictures here cause there are some restricted areas where we couldn't photograph!)

The Combined Operations Room (COR) serves the critical role of a nerve centre to the Singapore
Police Force and operates 24-hours daily.
The COR co-ordinates with the Operations Rooms of the 6 divisional headquarters (Division
Operations Room -DOR) as well as other specialist units such as the Police Coast Guard, Traffic
Police, etc.
In its Service Pledge, it promises to answer 90% of the Police Emergency 999 calls within
10 seconds! :D

Check out all these impressive-looking equipments!
If I didn't remember wrongly, these equipment are meant for police officers when they get deployed to a scene of crime etc.
Among the items there is a torchlight, a camera (to take pictures of evidences), sterile bottles, a brush to dust  for finger prints, special suits and mask in the case of radioactive or harmful chemicals and many more! :D

Then onto the police car we went :)

Have you sat in a police car before?
Actually I do hope your answer is "No"...
unless you're a Police Officer on duty or you went as a visitor like we did! :)

We were on our way to our attachment to the Community Policing Unit!

Under the new system, the Community Liaison and Preparedness (CLP) team at each NPC will be expanded into a Community Policing Unit (CPU).
Having more manpower will allow them to be more involved in community partnership projects.
These officers will be assigned to specific beats, and will conduct foot and bicycle patrols to build closer relationships with community stakeholders!
And we were going to witness for ourselves these officers at work! :)

Look at us beaming with excitement :D :D

Just having the Police polo teeshirt on alone and I can feel such pride already!! 
Can't imagine how proud of myself I'll be if I get to be a real Police Officer!

Time to do some patrolling!!

The CPU at each NPC focuses on reaching out and working in partnership
with the community.
Their outreach efforts are aimed at galvanizing the community to work even more closely with the Singapore Police Force, to keep Singapore a safe home for all of us.

During the short interviews the Community Policing officers (CPOs) had with some of the residents around the area,
there was a lot of good feedback from the people!
Most of them mentioned the visibility of the officers on patrol, which will definitely help deter crimes from happening,
and also how they feel safe knowing that there are officers on patrol (by foot or on bicycles) even at areas where patrol cars can't access to.
Apart from that, the officers also told the residents that should they spot any suspicious activities or characters around their areas, they can always alert their nearest Neighbourhood Police Center (NPC).

It was really nice to know that the officers are putting a lot of hard work into this, and the residents are reciprocating these efforts :)

Last but not the least, we followed the Fast Response Car (FRC) Patrol Team to learn more about their usual patrolling duties :)

We were attached to Station Inspector Jason Lim, who had more than 10 years of experience in SPF, and he was extremely patient in answering our questions!
I asked him what he thought about most people's stereotypical mindset that being a police is a risky job,
and I personally was very satisfied by his answer.
He told me that with every job there is always a risk, and that is why sufficient and competent training is so essential.
With proper training, Police Officers will be able to react swiftly and to the best of their abilities in difficult situations, while ensuring the safety of others and also themselves! :D

Even when there's no crime going on at the moment,
just like the CPOs on patrol around residential areas, seeing police cars on the roads is always a good deterrence for crimes.
I personally check that I remembered to buckle up my safety belt whenever I spot a police car nearby (which I always do by the way, haha!), or that the driver of the car isn't exceeding the speed limit etc :)

Us with Station Inspector Jason Lim :)

Beatrice was telling us we should salute to the camera for a picture
And I'm not sure why, but Yina's and I had the same funny expression lol!

In all, the entire day of back-to-back activities at TRACOM and ‘A’ Division had been extremely fulfilling!
We learned a lot about SPF, got a preview of their basic training, tagged along some officers to learn about their duties, met a lot of inspiring characters...
I must say that I've gained a new found respect for everyone at the Singapore Police Force - be it a PC (Police Constable) or a CP (Commissioner of Police)!
Their exceptional pride and passion for their work, dedication in keeping Singapore safe, and their never-ending desire to learn and improve themselves is something we all can learn from :)

So if you think you have what it takes to be extraordinary, want to go to work feeling motivated and driven, are not really into the idea of a usual office job,
I think SPF is definitely a good career choice to consider!
The prospects are pretty good, salaries are increasing with the new system, there are opportunities for scholarships and sponsorships for further education, the feeling of helping others is always rewarding, and you get to keep fit while doing all of that!
(*ahem* not the main point, but people will also be awestruck by your job plus your cool uniform)

Explore a career with SPF and/or apply to become a Police Officer via Careers@Gov today :)

For more information, you can visit the Singapore Police Force Recruitment Facebook page!
Do also show your support by "Liking" their page, and also by taking part in their Facebook contest!

How to win:
1. ‘Like’ Singapore Police Force Recruitment Facebook page
2. ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ any of the original link on your own Facebook Wall
3. Comment (i.e. “Liked & Shared!”) on the original link post after you have done the above

10 lucky winners will walk away with a pair of movie tickets each.
Winners will be announced on SPF Recruitment Facebook page!
Easy, isn't it? :)
Contest ends on Thursday, 13 Jun 2013, 3:00 PM, so do hurry!

Thank you for reading, love you all! :)