Follow protocol, with a heart

The police do not have an easy job, and I agree with Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam that we should not jump to conclusions when the facts of a case have not been fully established ("No basis for hasty conclusion on boy's death: Shanmugam"; yesterday).

Like many others, I am deeply saddened by the premature death of a young student. A young girl may also have psychological issues to grapple with. It must be a trying time for both families, and they need all the support they can get.

There are painful lessons which we can all learn from this incident, and one of the things that will prove useful in such incidents is to give assurances to all involved that whatever happens, everyone will journey along with them and help them along the way.

This measure can go a long way in reclaiming and saving lives.

I have witnessed the police handcuffing adults when they are taken to the Institute of Mental Health after alleged offences.

But what has caught my eye is that one of the officers usually puts his hand on the shoulder of the man who has been arrested.

I've seen police officers put their hand on the shoulder of an arrested suspect in handcuffs. The body language to me is clear: You may have been accused of a crime, but I still care for you.

The body language to me is clear: You may have been accused of a crime, but I still care for you.

This was a salient point which I reinforced to para-counsellors of the Singapore Police Force at a training session I conducted several years ago. Education on these delicate issues must be ongoing and must reach out to all sectors of the population.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2016, with the headline 'Follow protocol, with a heart'. Print Edition | Subscribe